Monday, July 7, 2014

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love "Top Beer" Lists - Volume 2

I’ve never been more excited to follow up on a blog post. Originally, I was going to do this topic in two parts but I just can’t seem to fit everything into two posts (unless the second post is very, very long). How I Learned to Stop Worrying has now officially become a series of posts (looking at three posts right now). 

After I posted the first part of this series last week, I continued to dig to find more data pertaining to “user-rated” top beer lists or top beer lists that were essentially based off of opinion (wouldn’t all “top” lists be opinions for that matter?). I stumbled upon a site called BeerGraphs. This site utilizes the social media beer rating site Untappd, pulling data to create a ranking system for the world’s top beers. It’s fairly complicated as they don’t just take straight ratings off the site. Similar to Beer Advocate and RateBeer, a lot of other factors come into play. You can read about how they develop their metric here.

Surprise, surpise. Heady Topper tops another list

Beer Graph’s Top 50 lists breaks down like so:

American Double/Imperial IPA: 13
American IPA: 11
American Double/Imperial Stout: 9 (all are barrel-aged)
American Pale Ale: 3
Russian Imperial Stout: 2 (all are barrel-aged)
American Strong Ale: 2 (all are barrel-aged)
American Barleywine: 2 (all are barrel-aged)
Quadrupel: 1
Imperial/Double Red Ale: 1
American Pale Wheat: 1
Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy: 1 (barrel-aged)
Lambic - Fruit: 1
Pumpkin: 1
Pale Lager: 1 (Jack’s Abbey Hoponius Union which they self describe as an India Pale Lager)
Fruit Beer: 1 (barrel-aged)

There are a couple of things to remember about this list and Untappd in general. First of all, there were ample repeats in the top 50. I had to look to the top 60 eliminating ten repeats total in the top 50. Repeats are allowed on this list because Untappd’s beers are user-generated. Some users felt the need to separate some beers by year (ex: Bourbon County Brand Stout 2013 vs. Bourbon County Brand Stout). When I was a hardcore Untappd user, this was one of the things that frustrated me the most about the app.

The other thing that frustrated me again tied into the fact that the beers are often user-generated, meaning users can add beers in at their leisure. When a user adds a beer, that user defines the style (as well as the alcohol by volume). If the user adds in the wrong style, that beer is then forever defined with the wrong style. King Henry is a great example of this. Goose Island defines this beer as an English-style Barleywine. On Untappd, it is categorized as an American-style Barleywine. Is this THAT big of a deal? No, especially since the beer is barrel-aged. HOWEVER, there is a unique difference between an English-style Barleywine and an American-style Barleywine. For someone who has spent the time to learn the difference between the two, this could be incredibly annoying.

Untappd actually has a list of top beers on its website. The list is 36 beers long, with one repeat (Russian River’s Beatification) so for scoring purposes this will only be counted once.

Untappd's highest rated beer.
The name explains why.

American Imperial/Double Stout: 18 (17 are barrel-aged)American Imperial/Double IPA: 6
American Wild Ale: 3 (all are barrel-aged)
Russian Imperial Stout: 2 (are all barrel-aged)
American Barleywine: 1 (barrel-aged)
Quadrupel: 1
Lambic - Fruit: 1
American Pale Ale: 1
American Strong Ale: 1 (barrel-aged)
Root Beer: 1 (Small Town’s Not Your Father’s Root Beer)

NOTE: One of the entries in the list was categorized as a Gueuze but I included it instead as an American Wild Ale. It appears on several of the lists as an American Wild Ale so it just made sense to lump it in with that style. Furthermore, I personally don’t consider this beer to be a Gueuze due to production methods BUT this post in not meant to be an argument of style differentiation. 

The final numbers I’d like to bring to your attention are again from the website Beer Graphs. If you do some clicking around, you’ll find a list that ranks the highest average rated beer styles overall on Untappd. These numbers are from 2013 (I couldn’t find anything more recent) but I suspect that if there was a current top 15 styles list it would still be very close to this list. In order:

Imperial Double/IPA
Imperial/Double Red Ale
American Imperial/Double Stout
Imperial Oatmeal Stout
Russian Imperial Stout
Belgian Quad
Imperial/Double Black IPA
Root Beer
Flanders Red Ale
Imperial/Double Porter
Milk/Sweet Stout
Cyser ( A type of mead)
Irish Dry Stout
American Wild Ale

Breaking the statistics down by percentages:

Beer Graphs:

IPA (Including Imperial): 50% (Jack’s Abbey’s beer was included in this statistic)
Imperial Stout (Including Russian): 22%
Barrel-Aged: 34%


IPA (Including Imperial): 17%
Imperial Stout (Including Russian): 57%
Barrel-Aged: 67%

No comments: