Reviewing Beer

Written by Damon on November 13, 2008

I created a reviews category, but I’m not really sure how I feel about reviewing beer. How is my opinion, or anyone else’s, relevant to your appreciation of beer? Maybe if I did more beer reviews and you realised that we like the same kinds of beer, then my reviews would be worthwhile. But why come to Life With Beer to read about a beer when you can drink it for yourself?

I think the BJCP judging framework is useful for educating the palette and critically evaluating your own beers. It’s a good learning device, but not so useful for evaluating a beer’s quaff-worthiness.

So, with all this in mind, I’ve decided on a framework for beer reviews with the goal of helping to learn how to be a better brewer and deciding how to spend your beer-bucks.

Connect the Dots

What other beers does this resemble? What flavours and aromas do I find in the beer and what ingredients can I detect?

The point of searching for comparisons is to learn more about beer and brewing through discussion. I might think I detect Willamette in a beer that you think has Goldings. Please feel free to disagree with me, I’m not an expert and I think these sorts of comparisons help all of us become better brewers (and possibly drinkers, but I’m not sure I need much practice) by thinking about beer.

The Fly is Supposed to be in the Beer

What makes this beer interesting?

It may not make the beer good, but definitely curious. Maybe it’s just a common flavour that I can’t figure out how to get in my beers, like the common Belgian beer aroma I’m trying to replicate in my still-fermenting Belgian Blanches.

Months later, they are still fermenting.

Months later, they are still fermenting.

Or maybe it is something really strange, like the flavour of tobacco I detected in Barley Days Brewery’s Harvest Gold Pale Ale. I don’t particularly like tobacco, so I didn’t like this beer. But it definitely made the beer interesting, worth trying and writing about.

How Would I Mess It Up?

How would I modify this recipe?

It’s probably still beyond my abilities to copy a commercial beer based just on a tasting, but I’d still like to think about different directions that I could take using this beer as a base; I’d still like to think about what strange ingredients I could add that might work.

Hang-Over-Worthiness

Do I like this beer enough to regret it the next morning?

I admit that my standards go down as consumption goes up, but the real question is: Can I drink enough of this beer to make Molson Canadian palatable? A pretty high standard, I’m sure you will agree.