Let There Be Beer?

Frank Press Release

I have a disclaimer to post: a shadowy organisation gave me £500 to be at the European Beer Bloggers Conference. I am their shill! But, who are they? What are they up to? Do I now preach to the church of craft Bud Light?

They are “@LetThereBeBeer” to the public – so far just a Twitter account (that says “Must be 18+ to follow. Please only share with those of legal drinking age“), and a Facebook page I can’t see because I have no Facebook account. (US marketing/alcohol laws supposedly.) Under the hood they’re Frank. A PR firm – hired by the biggest brands in the beer world, they’re mercenary marketeers cashed up by the multi-nationals to sell an IDEA. And that idea is beer. How the idea will be formed exactly, how it will come across, it still to be found out. Who they are is summed up in the press release sitting in front of me:

“Who is behind Let There Be Beer? The whole of the global brewing industry, but to get a bit more specific Let There Be Beer has been borne from some of the world’s biggest brewers, UK brewers and pub businesses, retailer and organisations such as the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

- Britain Invited To “Let There Be Beer” – Press Release
(Full PR only seems to be online at heineken.co.uk.)

The claimed mission is “instilling a passion for beer in the nation’s hearts” to remind them “why beer is the nations best-loved drink” because for many “beer simply means pints of warm, flat lager“. The BBPA is involved (mixed feelings about them), apparently CAMRA “support” them (haven’t yet seen what that entails) as do SIBA. They’re bankrolled by (at least) AB InBev, Heineken, Molson Coors, Miller Coors – all of whom have CEOs “available for comment.” The press release is effusive in the support of beer, exclaims its importance, and throws some stats at us – I’m not qualified to dissect it, I suggest you read the press release for yourself (the paper copy I have has a little more detail, and less errors - but I’m not about to transcribe it - turns out AbInBev have a much better version of the PR online). I’ll keep an eye out for opinions from some of the UK’s proper beer folk, which I don’t really expect to see much of until the curtains are opened on the campaign for real. Dave of Hardknott brewery is the only proper beer type to have said anything about it as far as I have seen.[1] He is uncertain about the thing since the message isn’t yet clear – and leaning to cynical (unsurprisingly), his post is cheekily tagged “Silly PR campaigns”. As per a comment from Tandleman a lot of this seems to be very last minute, much like the crazy day-before-the-event EBBC scholarship competition I managed to win.

Why are they even involved in a conference for beer bloggers? I’m no marketer – but my guess is they need to find ideas, they need to mine the people who love beer for the edges they can explore to build the beer market. It is early days yet. The young woman from Frank who I met at EBBC seemed very earnest about the project and was pleasant to speak to and seemed receptive about thoughts on beer and its place alongside food. (Terribly, her name slips my mind, as usual.) Still at the beer discovery phase herself, learning: yes, this beer stuff isn’t actually too bad, is it? (So I gathered.) Beer can be outstanding – so long as you know what to look for – and what to do with it when you’ve found it. I suppose that’ll be the hurdle they need to leap: how to get these ideas across to the public? “There is more to beer, and it deserves a place in your life.”

What should we all think of this? Us “beer bloggers“… are we a rich seam, a natural resource ripe for exploiting? A mine of information? In a way, I hope so. If, with big marketing money, they can have some success at opening up new views on beer that would hopefully work for us all. Grow the beer market out into new areas, most will probably go dull-macro, but they’re new beer drinkers – there’s now more of a hope they can “upgrade” to better, more local, and more my kind of beer. Could this not be a good thing for ALL beer lovers, and the industry as a whole from the big boys down to the start-ups?

I really don’t know enough to make that call. I’m not a natural optimist, I’m a cynical bastard at the best of times. I don’t trust corporates – anyone with “shareholders” is automatically suspect. This campaign, however it pans out, will be all about building the market for the multinationals – who’re seeing a decline in beer sales while the “craft” side of the industry is growing. We can just hope it works in our favour as well – that good beer is a focus and becomes a bigger slice of the pie that we all can enjoy. Drinkers like myself as well as the many good breweries, brewers, and other beer trade people out there. Just don’t be fooled into thinking the CEOs and investors of the given companies actually give a stuff, at the end of the day this is all about just one thing: dollars in their pockets.

No Colin, Garret Oliver is not for eating!As for the conference itself, my thoughts on that belong in a separate post which I shall try to find the time to create. I wasn’t originally going to the conference as I don’t consider myself a “beer blogger”, I’m just a chap who happens to blog about beer. That makes sense in my head at least. I’ll try to get around to explaining what I mean. I did have a great time, and it was a good event, and UTTERLY amazing value for £95 – I hope it is a worthwhile exercise for the good breweries & folk who put their time and money into it. I have Let There Be Beer to thank for being able to go… and I do & did thank them. But I won’t fawn, promote, or even be optimistic – I’ve never been comfortable about this sort of campaign in any industry. The tech scene is full of it, and this is why you’ll find most of us tech folk will be cynical and won’t trust you. (I used to be in InfoSec, can you tell?)

In the meantime, certainly “let there be beer” – really good beer, and plenty of it. Cheers!


[1] Dave’s post somehow passed me by – I’ve been busy – I found it just now as one of just two hits for the quoted intro from the press release’s final “about” section: “Who is behind Let There Be Beer”. I see there is a video. I haven’t seen it, I don’t have the right plugin installed.


2013: A Year in Beer

The Collection

Just a bit of beer…

Sometimes I look at my calendar and feel some concern about the amount of beer on it.

This year is turning out to be a bit heavy on the beer front, perhaps not the healthiest of hobbies? I swore I’d fit more cycling in this year but right now I’m not sure where I can fit it. An interesting thing is that there are a lot more non-CAMRA events in the schedule.

2013 kicked off with Craft Beer Rising, a beery day out that ended in BrewDog Shoreditch & too much beer. CBR wasn’t really up to the standards set by IMBC in 2012 alas, that’s my personal take on it. It was a broad shapshot of “craft” encompassing what I personally think of as true craft breweries through to the big twig-co’s (Greene King for example, meh) and some truly terrible shit pretenders (Point from the US, and some dodgy rum-flavoured crap for example).

Less beery was the Windsor & Eton Brewery weekend doing the MITIE London Revolution. Over 180 miles cycling – fun but painful! It took 3 weeks for my knees to fully recover. I’d do it again in the future though and can just hope I fit my beaut Windsor & Eton Republika jersey a bit less like a sack full of lard.

Cambridge Beer Festival happened at the end of May and as per usual I attended on several occasions. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings I believe. With over 200 different beers there are always more I want to try than I can possibly fit in.

Hitchin Beer Festival

Hitchin Beer Festival

We had our own Hitchin Beer Festival in early June. This chewed a week of leave! Up to Crewe on the Monday to pick up beer from off Beat, site set-up on Tuesday, and then Thu/Fri/Sat fest and Sun take-down. We bit off a bit more than we could chew with this this year! Bar managing and also taking over from security at 6AM every day. Thu, Fri, Sat nights: less than 4 hours sleep a night! We ended the festival utterly exhausted and I slept a lot the following week and was a tad laggy at work. It was an excellent & successful fest though.

Next event on my calendar is the North Herts Cambridge Pub Ramble that I’m running. It’ll be fun and I hope we get a good crowd along. I picked a set of pubs, all good, which form a nice loop through town and all have a bit of extra interest to them. I have put notes up on the map I’ve made for the route.

Off Beat Firkins

Off Beat Firkins

After that a quick one is Off Beat’s #FirstyFriday on July 5th. We have some of their firkins out the back, empties from Hitchin Beer Festival. So why not coincide dropping them off with their little monthly at-brewery beer event? Now there’s an excellent plan coming together!

We’re all booked in for the Birmingham Beer Bash at the end of July. Both Saturday sessions including the beer-matched dinner. We scoot up via train on Friday afternoon and will be staying in the Radisson Blu just a short stumble from BrewDog Birmingham. I expect Friday may involve the consumption of just a bit of beer. Train: £129, hotel: £113, Beer Bash: £120 – over £350 spent up front. Not bad for a 2-night weekend away though I suppose. We do take our beer rather seriously, too seriously? ;)

August brings the GBBF – for which I use another week of annual leave as I am there from start-to-finish participating in CAMRA’s intensive bar/beer management course. This ought to be a blast! I’m going to be on Buster’s bar.

Independent Manchester Beer Convention

October brings IndyManBeerCon 2013! Wow, memories of 2012 still glow for me. We were booked in for this “FULL FAT” the day the tickets were released, hotel booked too – the travelodge around the corner again at an insanely-low early rate. So far IMBC is just costing £66 for tickets plus £152.50 for five nights in the hotel. (We’ll be driving up for this one.) Oh, and another week of leave booked!

I’m sure there’ll be more added to this list as time goes by. A Brodie’s gig or something similar in London is always tempting. We’ve still not seen the (now not-so) new Kernel brewery – not to mention not visited many of London’s shiny new breweries, I’m very keen to catch up with where Weird Beard are at. And, heck, we still haven’t even visited the Craft Beer Co. I also would love to get up to Edinburgh again, I’ve fallen in love with the place – though we’ve only stayed there twice. The BrewDog AGM passed us by this weekend, I was on the edge of booking that trip for weeks but decided against it in the end. The inaugural AGM was so good… I doubt future AGMs, while bigger and slicker, will live up to the memory.

Anyway – so far three of my five weeks of anual leave are given over to beer. That’s just nuts, right? I think the other two will go to a December visit back home to the family in Western Australia… where beer will certainly happen. WA’s craft beer scene is an ever-growing beast, interesting to catch in small bites every couple of years.

How much leave, travel, and time to you give to beer? Not to mention money!

We still haven’t quite graduated to making international trips just for beer events. That, I guess, is the next step. One for 2014? Copenhagen, De Molen, GABF? I’d love to catch up with beer folk in New Zealand again too. *sigh*

KeyKeg, KeyCask, and what is “Real Ale” anyway?


Key Cask © KeyKegWhat is “KeyCask“? Last year I had it from the manufacturer that “KegKeg”[1] and “KeyCask” are the same thing, the assumption on my part being that the latter is merely a re-branding to make it less contentious amongst cask ale drinkers. To quote KeyKeg’s tweeted response to me:

KeyKeg = KeyCask. KeyKeg is perfectly suited for Real Ale. CAMRA acknowledged this. KeyKegs for Ale will be branded as KeyCasks.” (20th Aug 2012)

On the other hand a CAMRA internal post on the matter states:

In KeyCask the bladder is made from a semi-permeable material to allow reaction of the beer with oxygen.” (23rd May 2012 — CAMRA login required I’m afraid.)

In essence there is some confusion on the subject — and several Twitter conversations I have had over the last few months imply I’m not the only one who is uncertain. The only relevant information I can find on the KeyKeg website states “Special laminated inner bag for Ale” — does “special” mean “oxygen permeable”? Meanwhile the KeyKeg online shop lists just KeyKeg as an option for purchase, but perhaps the elusive KeyCask is only available wholesale?

I have no clear confirmation one way or the other on this one. I have sent the KeyKeg folk an email asking if they can provide any further information on the subject.

Update 2013-02-28

Now here we have it, lifted straight from a Lightweight Containers newsletter:

The KeyCask has now become a full-fledged member of the KeyKeg family. Several English and German ale brewers have opted to fill their ales in KeyCasks. With the exception of the name and the instructions on the packaging, the KeyCask is still identical to the KeyKeg – for now.

However, the Lightweight Containers R&D department is continually testing new types of inner bags for the KeyCask. If a different type of inner bag may turn out to perform even better for particular ales, it will be installed instead. For the time being, ale brewers are completely satisfied with KeyCasks. They keep the ales fresher for much longer, which suddenly means that ales can be exported.

Read on for the original KeyKeg/KeyCask oxygen WTF-confusion… but really there is no need, as it was just that: confusion. KeyKeg = KeyCask (“for now”) and for the life of me I can’t imagine why this shouldn’t be the case. If, for example, beer racked off “bright” to a poly can be served at a festival as “real ale” (it can) then KeyKeg is certainly no different. Better yet you do have the option of conditioning in KeyKeg, I spoke to Batemans brewery folk at Craft Beer Rising last weekend and they said they had been experimenting with this with definite success. I don’t think KeyKeg is always the ideal solution — but it seems like a good option for pubs with lower turnover or pubs that’d like to put something a bit stronger on that may not sell fast enough to make a 9g cask a good idea. There’s also factors of reduced transport weight and no need for container return. Anyway, more on that another time… perhaps.

However the debate doesn’t stop there — exactly why must the bladder be “semi-permeable” in the first place, why does this matter?

The CAMRA internal post on the subject has a short comment thread attached that asks some pertinent questions:

“Could do with a bit more detail here. For example: the difference between a keykeg and a keycask how to prevent one being passed off as the other what are the venting difficulties? Is there a technical report I can see?” — Peter Alexander (23rd May 2012)

From the perspective of a CAMRA volunteer running beer festivals this is a somewhat important question. Regardless of my personal views on cask/keg I want to work within the rules when running a CAMRA festival. If there is a real difference and CAMRA really only approves of one of them then us festival buyers/organisers need to know how to tell which is which. However Hardknott brewer David Bailey then asks:

“Not sure why semi-permeable bags are needed. Why do we want beer to come into contact with oxygen? Oxygen makes beer go off, not improve it. What is the problem with beer that is conditioned in the container from which it is dispensed and dispensed without any contact with extranious gas?” — David Bailey (24rd May 2012)

This was my initial reaction on hearing about the whole semi-permeable/oxygen issue. I don’t remember seeing a CAMRA definition for “real ale” that says it needs to come into contact with oxygen. The primary online CAMRA definition of “real ale” makes no mention of oxygen — then again it is pretty useless in any technical sense. All we can really garner from this definition is that secondary fermentation in cask/bottle/final-container-of-your-choice is the important part — making it “living” beer.[2]

With tank-conditioned beer going into cask near-bright for speedy pub sale being not uncommon I wonder if any of these definitions hold up in practice. Can you tell if a cask breather is being used, or if the cask ale you’re drinking was tank-conditioned and racked off near bright? What if it was tank-conditioned with injected CO² — does cylinder CO² taste different to that farted out by yeast? No. Pubs are excluded from the Good Beer Guide if they’re known to use cask breathers — even though others who do use them are often in there. (How many CAMRA branches ask their GBG pubs to confirm they never use breathers — how do they ever know for certain?) If pubs start using KeyCask then things get murkier still because even fewer branches are going to understand these newfangled devices or whether they’re being used correctly within the definition of “real ale”.

What we need if we’re to pursue “real ale” realistically are guidelines that normal people can read and understand. Ignore the container, ignore everything up until the point that you have a drinking receptacle full of beer in your hand, and from there beer in your mouth. People who like traditional beer can then rate it on their perception of carbonation level, temperature, flavour and overall quality — which is JUST AS IT IS CURRENTLY DONE in practice. But then the waters get muddied by all these borderline technicalities that have little to do with the quality of the beer.

The “definition” of “real ale” we have is inadequate, and unmeasurable in any case. It is little better than “craft beer”. What is “real ale”: “I knows it when I sees it!” — no, you just think you do.

[1] For the unaware, what KeyKeg/Cask is is essentially a “bag inside a ball“, the foiled bag contains the beer and the polycarbonate ball holds everything together under pressure. This all comes in a neat cardboard enclosure to hold it upright. You need a KeyKeg coupler to connect this up to a dispense system — as with any other keg. Typically you get beer out of the keg by introducing gas (CO² or pressurised air) between the ball and the bag, thus squeezing the beer out of the bag. Alternatively you could suck beer out of the bag with a straw if you’re desperate — or a proper hand-pump will do the trick too. Leave the air inlet on the coupler open, and the beer engine will happily pump beer out of the bag. I’ve successfully hooked beer engines up to KeyKegs at a beer festival, it works pretty well.

[2] The published “What is Real Ale” page leaves a lot to be desired. Not only is its definition of “real ale” of little technical value it makes other brash inaccurate statements, which you could call “lies” I guess: “Brewery-conditioned, or keg, beer has a longer shelf life as it is not a living product.” That’s a mean & misleading thing to be telling the general drinking public. Firstly I know of “brewery conditioned” beer that goes into cask as a “living product” so this term is not a synonym for “keg”. Secondly I know of “keg” beer that is unfiltered and unpasteurised and tastes incredibly good. Beer does not exist in a black and white world of “cask” and “keg”, as much as CAMRA policy continues to espouse the idea that it does. And “Why isn’t all beer real?” — seriously? *goesforapintofunrealbeer*. Sometimes I’m vaguely ashamed to be a CAMRA member, let alone an active one.

Drink Moor Beer — Letchworth Beer of the Festival Presentation

In November 2012 Kathlene and I had the privilege to form a tiny delegation from North Hertfordshire CAMRA to visit the Moor Beer Company in Somerset. The purpose of our visit: to present the “Beer of the Festival” award won by their beer Revival at the 2012 Letchworth Beer and Cider festival. As reported in the previous edition of Pints of View this is a light golden and hoppy beer at 3.8% ABV. Revival was notable from the moment I first broached the cask to be rewarded by a burst of intense aroma, it was like breathing hops. The beer won the festival by popular vote, obtaining twice the number of votes of the runners up.

When you see the owl, you're there.

When you see the owl, you’re there.

Given that Somerset is a bit of a trek from North Hertfordshire we arranged to visit the brewery on a Saturday and stay overnight in a nearby inn recommended by the brewery’s owner and head brewer, Justin Hawke. After checking into the inn we continued on to the brewery… and drove straight past the small side-road it’s on. Returning back eastwards we spotted the correct turn, there was a large road sign visible from the west but no matching sign to be seen from the east. Tricky! We were soon outside a large green farm shed, a wooden owl on a bicycle wheel atop, and us knocking on the brewery door.

The wall-of-awards

The wall-of-awards

We were ushered to a corner to admire Moor’s wall of awards to keep us out of the way at first. A yeast transfer was taking place at the time and you need to be careful with your yeast! This gave us a good opportunity to study our surrounds. Moor is a typical example of a working brewery, all serious concrete and stainless steel. There is a scattering of pallets, boxes, kegs, and one luxury-item: a bottling machine. The yeast was soon safely dealt with and we were able to get the business of the award presentation and photography out of the way. We were then able to enjoy a few beer samples and have a good discussion with Justin, his staff, and a couple of local visitors. The topic, unsurprisingly, was beer — but in particular Justin’s strongly held views on matter of good beer.

Justin prefers to make, sell, and drink what he calls natural beer and doesn’t like using finings in his cask ales. These “finings” we’re talking about here are a chemical substance derived from certain types of fish which is added to cask ales to help them clear faster and brighter. The action of finings is to make yeast in the beer clump up and sink to the bottom of the barrel. The primary problem most people have with finings is that their use makes cask ale unacceptable to strict vegetarians. However Justin doesn’t believe leaving finings out is good only for vegetarians, but that it also makes the beer more flavoursome and enjoyable. Flavour components, especially hop oils, stick to small particles that are pulled down to the bottom of the barrel and thus out of your pint of beer. I have heard others counter that the haze can also carry undesirable flavours and I suspect that this is an argument that could go on for quite some time. At the end of the day the truth is in the mouth of the beer drinker.

I tasted Justin’s cask ales in unfined-form at our excellent inn, the Queen’s Arms in Cortham Denham, and can very much say that the ale was in incredibly fine form. There was a slight haze to the beer, enough to put a frown on the face of many cask ale drinkers even though the beer tastes perfectly good. This, I think, is where the battle-lines lie for unfined ales: the culture of cask ale is one where a beer will not usually be considered perfect unless it is crystal-clear. This may change over time as awareness grows, it may also be aided by the growing popularity of more heavily hopped IPAs. These strong and very hoppy ales tend to carry a “hop haze” irrespective of whether they’re fined or not.

Only time will tell on the matter of whether unfined cask ales will gain a wide acceptance in the UK. Personally I hope they do, both for the sake of my vegetarian friends and also for the simple fact that Justin’s ales do taste incredibly good. The cask of Revival we had at the Letchworth Beer Festival was fined we believe, we will certainly try to have Moor beers at future beer festivals and when this happens the beers will be unfined. You see, Justin used his last finings in December 2012 and from January 2013 all Moor beer will be unfined. You can read more about Moor Beer Company, their beers, and their stance on finings on the brewery’s website: http://moorbeer.co.uk/

I’ll leave you where I started, with Moor Brewing Co’s very fitting slogan:
“Drink Moor Beer!”

Us with the Moor team

L-R: Richard Cann (Asst. Brewer), Tom Scrancher (Asst. Brewer), Justin Hawke (Owner & Brewer), Yvan & Kathlene (N.Herts Committee), Mike Cable (Asst. Brewer), and Fred Wilde (West Country Ales)

Bottled Moor beers are available online through West Country Ales, who have a shop-front in the picturesque Cheddar Gorge. Fred Wilde, shop owner, was at the presentation and we visited his shop the next day to find a great selection of beers. Beaut Cheddar cheddar from across the road, and great west country ale… perfect. You can order Moor beers online here: http://www.westcountryales.co.uk/ — follow Fred on Twitter: @westcountryales.

If you run a pub or beer festival, we bought our Moor “Revival” from one of London’s newer beer distribution companies: Liberty Beer, they don’t currently have any regular deliveries within Hertfordshire but may be able to arrange something for you if you get in touch: http://libertybeer.co.uk/ — they’re on Twitter too: @liberty_beer.

Finally — this write-up was created as a North Hertfordshire CAMRA contribution to the Feb/Mar edition of Hertfordshire’s “Pints of View” newsletter, find it in your local Hertfordshire pub or online here: http://www.hertsale.org.uk/?newsletter


The Murky World of Rating Beer

I don’t rate beer any more. I’ve always struggled with the concept, and I’ve given up. Too much is dependent on context – place, time, temperature, company. The drinking of a beer is far too complex an experience to pint down with a number on a single-axis scale. From now on I don’t give beers ratings in Untappd, and any I have rated before I re-rate to ★★★★★ if I have them again.

Rating beer can be a rather personal thing for both the rater and the ratee. I’d suggest that breweries try not to pay too much attention to individual beer ratings, that way far too much angst lies!

I live with two different rating systems. First there is CAMRA NBSS. This is used by most of us CAMRA geeks/branches to pick pubs for the Good Beer Guide. Importantly it is a rating of the condition of the beer, not the beer itself. We’re rating the pub’s ability to keep and serve the stuff, not the brewery. (Sometimes the brewery is responsible for beer being in bad nick, but in this case the pub shouldn’t serve it!) Personally I find it difficult to judge a 4 from a 5 in NBSS terms… the level of technical “perfection” is pretty high already at this stage and 3 is already pretty good as it is. I expect that I and others often let personal beer preferences & general mood and atmosphere determine the difference sometimes.

NBSS is the first “beer rating” scale I ever really used. Nowdays I use Untappd far more often though. My NBSS scale of rating has bled through to this, but judging on a scale of “preference” (subjective) rather than “condition” (objective). I’ve copped a little flack a couple of times from brewers I know who think I’m saying their excellent beer is a bit “average”. I use Untappd mainly as a personal record of beer with the primary purpose of ratings being to record whether or not I think a beer is worth trying or buying again. Importantly, in the way I use it, anything from 3 starts to 5 starts is “good to perfect”.

This is my attempt to explain how I use Untappd ratings:

  • (0) — (Not sure this exists as a counted rating) Not rating this beer, either I’ve had too many or I can’t be assed. Also in the case where I think the beer condition is flawed at point of sale or I think the bottle/cask is broken/infected in some way.
  •  — “Yuck!” — Pretty awful. Covers drainpour through to just barely drinkable. Leaves a lasting negative impression, will probably never touch the stuff again. I try to avoid giving this if I think there is a technical flaw along the lines of infection or keeping.
  • ★★ — “OK” — Good beer, about average. I’ll be quite happy to finish my pint. I’d not order another one immediately if there was something I know to be better available or something I hadn’t tried before, but I’d have another without complaint. If a bottled beer then I’d probably not buy it again. Whether or not I should buy a beer again in the future is one of the reasons I bother with ratings.
  • ★★★ — “Nice” — Very good beer. I’ll probably have another immediately. I’ll definitely buy again. Most beer I buy is “very good” in my experience, but I tend to be an “informed purchaser”. Normal British cask ales are unlikely to score higher than this, even if I think they’re perfect for style. If I give imperials/etc a 3 then I probably do think they’re a bit average. It all depends on the beer.
  • ★★★★ — “Wow” — there is something special about this beer. It pushes past normal boundaries of flavour. It tickles my tastebuds in exciting ways. I may have to buy a case.
  • ★★★★★ — “Oh, fucking hell, this is fucking amazing!” — As good as the beer experience gets for me. Extremely unlikely to be given to anything that doesn’t have “imperial” in its name. That’s just the way I roll.

So, there you have it. Don’t be offended if I think your beer is a ★★★ this probably means I think it is perfect.

Amusingly it appears to me that just about every beer in the world scores between 3.5 and 4 starts on Untappd.

As a resource for researching beer I find Rate Beer much more useful and worth paying attention to than any other similar resource online. Its aggregate scoring is one of the best beer-picking resources on the web IMO. They seem to use decent analysis & statistical methods to turn “ratings” into good rankings by style. But I don’t have the time for the level of detail Rate Beer entails to be a direct user of the system.