Parallel to the rise in craft beer production has been a growth in the community and analysis around beer, including, for better or worse, beer rating websites and apps.
Beer is experienced goods. That is, you must first consume it before you can judge its quality.
With the variety of choice, the pace at which things move, and the constant barrage of new beer releases, a sense of “FOMO” can grow among craft beer enthusiasts.
Coupled with that is the fact that one’s capacity to consume beer is finite.
So naturally, people want to separate the wheat from the chaff. They want to ensure that each beer experience is a good one. That’s why many turn to beer rating sites or apps to inform their purchasing decisions.
It’s the same reason people read reviews of restaurants or hotels. They want to optimise their chances of feeling positive on the other side of the transaction.Beer is experienced goods. That is, you must first consume it before you can judge its quality. Click To Tweet
Rating As Part Of The Beer Experience
The time and effort it takes to rate and review a beer is barely factored into an economic consideration of the “beer experience”.
Beer is a passion for many, so the time and effort to rate, review or analyse becomes part of the enjoyment we as craft beer lovers extract from the overall experience.
It’s a pleasure we feel, tangentially related to the main experience (actually drinking the beer), that adds value to our overall engagement with the pastime. It’s the same thing that might compel someone to run a website about beer.
Ratings and reviews also allow us to keep up with the fast-pace of the beer world. As platforms, these websites and apps provide a way to see what’s new, what’s hot, what’s trending. Something that, in a scene subject to “FOMO”, can be factored into purchasing decisions.
The Relative Dangers Of Beer Rating Sites
What is sometimes lost in these beer ratings is perspective. “If a beer is rated 95/100, then why would I drink it if I can get a beer rated 99/100?”The problem with beer ratings: If a beer is rated 95/100, then why would I drink it if I can get a beer rated 99/100? Click To Tweet
This is where things can get a bit silly and all too often, opinions expressed lose any sort of nuance or balance, instead straying into black and white thinking. If it’s not awesome, it’s shit.
Clearly, anything read on the internet should be taken with a pinch of salt. But in the case of beer ratings, at least it’s creating conversation.
Positive Shared Experience
This opinion and debate is one reason behind the growth of these apps and websites. They create a community of like-minded, passionate people.
The internet has provided a platform in which anyone can seek out people with similar interests. As with any pastime, if we’re short of options to engage with it locally, we can turn to the web to find others who share our passion.
Platforms like Rate Beer, Beer Advocate and Untappd provide a virtual space where we can engage with like-minded people.Platforms like Rate Beer and Untappd provide a virtual space where we can engage with like-minded people. Click To Tweet
These platforms are like any niche social network or forum, the like of which have existed for decades. They open up the opportunity to converse, debate and reaffirm both our thoughts and beliefs and how we self-identify.
This social experience is not a new phenomenon but something that has merely changed form through the internet.
Think of it like a book club. It’s a place to discuss, debate and provide critique. (Why would I read A Farewell to Arms if it got 96, when The Great Gatsby got 98?)
What’s The Point?
These apps and websites service two major compulsions which seem evident in craft beer lovers. Firstly, the need to ensure each beer drinking experience is a good one. Secondly, to interact with like-minded people.
Whether beer ratings are good for the industry as a whole, including both brewers and drinkers, is another debate.
While there are a lot of people who possess enough independence of thought to make their own beer buying decisions, ratings provide many others with a means of navigating a fast-growing and often confusing marketplace.
While all non-expert reviews and ratings might be somewhat flawed, we tend not to see as much polarisation of opinion when it comes to restaurant or hotel review sites.
For now, let’s just put that down to the passion of craft beer drinkers.