Brew Review Methodology
How We Rate Beer. The BarAmerica rating guide for brew reviews.
Rating beers is subjective and highly personal, so you have to be sure to trust your own judgement when tasting. What follows are the tools we use to help us come up with numbers that we think fairly and comprehensively reflects a brew's quality. BarAmerica's editors draw up their conclusions independantly of each other then average their numbers together to come up with a final score.
The head is usually the first thing to stand out as the beer settles in the glass. Small tightly-packed bubbles are an indication of freshness and quality. Other visual keys are a beer's clarity and color, which will vary by type. A great beer should also be pleasing to the eye.
Each beer's perfume is as unique as its taste and must be carefully considered. Much of a beer's taste characteristics can be discovered by taking a good whiff, so we get our noses right down in the glass, sometimes even getting them wet. If an aroma is subdued, or playing hard to get, swirling the glass will usually force it out.
This is where we do half of our work (if you can call tasting beer work) when reviewing. We make sure to let the beer completely bathe the tongue before swallowing. Initial taste, feel in the mouth, flavor palate and finish are characteristics we consier. Carbonation is also important to take note of, too much can interfere with a beer's taste, the right amount can make for a tingly effervesce, while not enough may lead to an unpleasant, flat texture. Is it dry, sweet, or sour? Is its consistancy creamy and thick, or thin and weak? Does it leave an unpleasant lingering aftertaste? Of course it's also important to remember the category of beer being evaluted and look for those qualities specific to that type; ie., we don't expect a stout to taste like a lager. About three-quarters of the way into a brew it's time to re-evaluate. How has the time and temperature affected the taste and consistency? Has the beer gone flat and watery, or stayed strong all the way through?
General Impression (0-2)
This is where we put it all together and sum up the whole tasting experience. Is there something at work that we didn't see when breaking down the beer into parts? If the numbers don't exactly express what we think a beer is about this is a good place to modify a score upwards or downwards.
|0.0 - 1.0||Hideous and undrinkable; an abomination|
|1.1 - 2.0||Bad, bad beer; run from this stuff|
|2.1 - 3.0||Unpleasant, should be avoided|
|3.1 - 4.0||A poor choice in brew; substandard stuff|
|4.1 - 5.0||Average at best; nothing to write home about|
|5.1 - 6.0||Better than the average|
|6.1 - 7.0||Well-made brew; we recommend it|
|7.1 - 8.0||A damn good beer|
|8.1 - 9.0||An alluring, exciting taste experience; hard to resist|
|9.1 - 10.0||Divine; the very best in beer; the stuff of legend|