Thursday, 28 January 2010

Thoughts on Beer Rating.

This post started as a comment in reply box to this post. It grew and grew and I thought it deserved a space of it's own.

You see for me, the one fatal flaw with any kind of beer rating is that beer, by nature beer is variable. As brewers we spend most of our life trying to eliminate as much of that variability as possible but there are things outside of our control. Take hops for example. English hops are a seasonal crop, picked and dried in September. Naturally they degrade and oxidise over the course of the year, the beer you drink in August will have nearly year old hops in. Recipes can be adjusted to compensate, but the exact same beer can never be generated. Shortages in hops can also have a ruinous effect on the consistency.

Once the beer is out of the brewer's hands there are many more variables that can have an effect on the beer. Whether cask or bottle, age plays a large factor. Massive U.S. style hopping in a bottled beer that is sat on a shelf in a shop for six months is not going to taste the same as one stored cool for a month and then drunk. By the same token, an imperial stout is not going to taste the same if drunk fresh rather than suitably aged in a cool, dark place. Casks also change in flavour profile depending on how long they have been tapped and spiled. Certainly with the beers I produce, hop character mellows over the life of the cask.

I think it is unfair to rate the 'same' beer that is in different condition. Also I would like to know how much of this beer rating is a numbers game. This guy, RateBeer's top rater claims to have drunk 15,862 since 2002. That is 5.4 new beers every day. How is that possibe? Does he/she do nothing other that sit around opening bottle after bottle? How do they pay for it? If they have had 5.4 beers every day, I'd argue that theyre probably wasn't enough quantity of the beer to get a sense of what it was actually like. I think a 3rd of a pint for session beer, maybe a little less for stronger stuff is about the minimum quantity needed to get a real idea of how a beer tastes.

This list has been published. Who cares? Not me really. I know a lot of people enjoy the fun of seeking out new beers, hallowed and legendary beers, myself included. But please don't take it too seriously.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Being Unfaithful

I recently had to tell my girlfriend I had been unfaithful to her. It had become obvious I had someone else in my life. Not an easy thing to do. We are working our way through it, but I don't think I'll ever stop seeing the other.

To help me come to terms with it, let me tell you a little about her.

She is petite and is the most beautiful creamy tan colour, and as with most women she hates the cold, but anything above twenty nine degrees she hates too. I see her at least three times a week, if not more. Sometimes I see her at the weekend too, telling my girlfriend that I am going to work for a couple of hours. I go and see her instead.

If I treat her nicely, making sure she isn't too hot or cold and she has plenty of food she loves to reproduce. Sometimes I can't keep up with how fast she is, and it makes a mess all over the floor.

Speaking of food, she has a really sweet tooth and loves beers of almost all types. However she does have a really strongly allergic reaction to strong alcohol. If she has anything above about nine percent alcohol, she is likely to die.

She lives where she works, free accommodation is always a bonus with a job. When she is at work she lives in an ultra modern construction made of stainless steel clad in varnished softwood. When she isn't at work she lives in a small one room place made entirely of plastic. I think it is a bit claustrophobic, but she is happy in there for a few days before she starts to sulk.

I sometimes have to be a bit rough with her, rousing her into action if she gets a lazy, but she doesn't mind and almost always reacts well to it. She is also quite old, I'm not sure exactly how old, but then again, neither is she. She has the strangest health routines too, every four or five weeks she likes to be soaked in acid for an hour or so then to go for a massive binge on sugary water for anything up to 5 days. Some of her friends have told me they find that an acid soak every eight to twelve weeks works better for them, but I think they have just been reading Grazia too much.

Her name?