Burgers and Brews: A Breakdown

There are a lot of beer blogs out there. A lot. A quick look at the Blogs of Note section on this site will give you a hint of that. So why add another one? Why join the ranks of so many other beer enthusiasts who just can’t seem to keep their mouths shut? What do I, middle of the road beer-geek that I am, have to contribute to the ever expanding universe of craft beer?

Not a whole helluva lot.

What I can offer is simply this: an honest, unfiltered, average Joe opinion on beers that you can go out to the store and actually buy. I won’t focus on super-rare, extremely limited, one-off beers that you have to give up your firstborn for (although, if anyone is willing to supply them, I’ll gladly give it the full B&B treatment). Nor will I focus on beers that aren’t available in the New England area (once again, if some fall into my lap, I won’t push them away). I want you the reader to be able to read about a beer, and be able to go out and buy that beer (or not). I make no excuses for being a Northeast-centric beer-writer. This is where I live. This is where I drink.

It’s come to my attention that some people think my grading system is, to put it nicely, arbitrary. I don’t argue this. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a strict rubric for these grades, but I do have some very general guidelines. There are two extremes in my grading. The highest grade, an A+, is the best beer I’ve ever had. I would literally crawl naked over a pit of pissed off lobsters to get a sip of this beer. If I had a kid, I would name it after this beer. I would drink this beer, and only this beer, until I died (be it from old age or cirrhosis of the liver, whichever comes first).

On the other end of the spectrum is obviously an F-. To qualify for this esteemed honor, the beer would have to be so vile that I wouldn’t be able to swallow a second sip. The aroma would burn my nose-hairs, cause instant vertigo/nausea, and possibly cause my hair to catch on fire. The flavor would be enough to induce dry-heaves and a loss of faith in God, with a possible side effect of death. This beer would be a good substitute for Drain-O as I pour it down the sink.

Everything else? Well, I guess that’s up to my mood. Sometimes I can forgive an industrial-light lager for being what it is, and focus on the positives. Sometimes I’ll rip a beer a new orifice. Sometimes I can grade a beer a C one day and a B the next. Why? Because it’s just one man’s opinion, it’s one data point. Let my interpretations be a jumping off point for you, a place to start. Curious about a beer? Take a look at what I had to say about it, then go see for yourself. Agree with me? Let me know. It gives me the warm fuzzies. Think I’m full of crap? Tell me! You might even convince me to change my mind. Either way, you’ll be educating yourself about the ever expanding world of craft beer.


John said...

Taste, compared to our other perceptions, is probably the most subjective. The brightness, or luminosity, of something that you see can be measured. The texture, or feel of something can also be measured. So yeah, I think anybody that reads this must take the grading of a beer with a grain of salt. Not that I would actually recommend salt consumption with some or most beers. Ultimately, it's a rubric you picked and have used for awhile. if you used a less exacting one, perhaps with only a few options, then complaints would swing the other way demanding more precision. Bottom line sir, keep doing what you are doing.

I am looking at shipping you some beers sometime in the future. From what I have read it appears that I will kind of have to be secret squirrely about it, and of course pack the box really well so that nothing breaks, and if it does, does not leak all over the place. As for what I would send, hmm, I have a few candidates, but I think the primary goal would be to send things that are interesting and distinctive. For instance, I could send you a run of the mill pale ale that neither impresses nor offends, but what's the point since there's brewers in New England that will already do that for you.

Mike R Lynch said...

Oh believe me, I was just waiting for you to get settled before I started hounding you for beers ;)

You are situated in possibly the best beer-region in the United States, and absolutely anything you send this way will be treated with reverence.

I'll be sending you a little wish list and a few bucks to pick up a few things in the future. I will gladly do a trade as well, but it's obvious that the regional stuff available here doesn't quite hold a candle to what you can get there. I will, however, do my best :)

I need a west coast liason, I may be asking you to do a few writeups in the future :)

TapHunter said...

John definitely makes some good points. As liking any given beer really comes down to personal preference that will cause you review accordingly. As an example I personally am not a huge fan of barley wine and in particular I would give an F rating to, lets say Hair of The Dog's "Fred" but it has an "A-" on Beer Advocate. So does that make my grade wrong, no, it's just my take on it. I can give my tasting points on it and hope it sparks curiosity. I've definitely found them interesting and I actually recently tried Rouge's OREgasmic Ale based on your review of it.

On a side note: San Diego can definitely give Portland a run for it's money in the brewing world. ;)

Mike R Lynch said...

@Taphunter You're right about San Diego, I won't argue that ;) And thanks for the props on the OREgasmic! I think the fact that four different beer-reviewers will give four different grades to the same beer is a good thing. This way, consumers can get a larger picture of a beer before they take that financial plunge and drop a 10 spot on a sixpack.

TapHunter said...

@Mike Exactly! The better informed you are about a beer the smaller the likelihood of being disappointed with a purchase, esp if you can't buy individual bottles from the six pack.