Highly Overrated

Trying to write a review for the first time ended in complete disaster and that particular review will never see the light of day. I was so hung up on describing the brewery that there was no actual review.  There was no focus, or rather, I was focusing on information that bored the ever living hell out of me.

I don’t even know the square footage of my house without looking it up, why the hell do I care how big the new Huss Brewing Co. location is? True, it’s great if you have a nice big location, but, if the parking sucks I’m not going.

If it’s a late Friday afternoon, I’m not going to Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. by car no matter how much I love that place – everyone else that loves Wilderness will be there too! I’ll drive the twenty extra minutes to McFate’s Tap and Barrel with twice the amount of parking and a smaller, cozy setting.

Nobody is looking at a blog to find the address of 8-Bit Aleworks so why even list that information if it’s not relevant to the story? Goldwater Brewing Co. is on Scottsdale Road just off Goldwater Blvd. and that’s where the name came from.  The beer also happens to look like gold water so it was a perfect choice … that’s what’s important when talking about a location, not the address.

I didn’t even attempt to start reviewing the beer. Can you really judge a place on its beer if you haven’t tried them all? While I am not one to back away from a challenge … trying every beer at every brewery I go to would only result in death. And beyond that, it’s hard to get two people to agree on why exactly a beer is good. I despise brown ales and you’re probably some communist who loves New England IPA’s, right?

Looking back on my first blog post to what attracted me to craft beer in the first place, I realized I need to focus on the total brewery experience as a whole and rate the different parts that make up that chance encounter for me.

Now all I need is some sort of rating system, oh joy!

Five stars, thumbs up, hearts, yellow moons, eventually we’ll get through all the Lucky Charms to convey our love of a thing. The rating system isn’t the problem, the issue is there isn’t a set of criteria when it comes to deciding how to rate something. Untapped is the perfect example of this. Quick.  Is three stars average or bad? Wrong! Is the beer being rated as it compares to other beer of the same style or is it being compared to the quality of other offerings from the brewery? There is nothing wrong with what people choose as there criteria for rating beers issues arise when those ratings become visible. Of course, a brewery wants to see all their beers with 5-star ratings, it looks good on a menu, but that’s just not realistic. In the famous words of Syndrome, “And when everyone’s super…no one will be!”

I have heard this argument in several breweries – if you’re not going to rate it five out of five then don’t rate it at all. That mantra is not limited to breweries, I have heard the same statement on a number of podcasts as well as a variety of customer service surveys. Five stars or nothing and we all know that only a Sith deals in absolutes. But, as soon as the rating logic changes to a yes or no, thumbs up or down … then people lose their shit! Point is, it is hard to rate beer unless you sit down with one at a time and go full-blown-wine-snob on it. If I’m going to do that, I at least better get a sticker out of it. However, this paragraph wasn’t a complete waste, I did get to throw in some sweet pop culture references. Look out here come the puns!

Speaking of the dark side…

Hell hath no fury like that of a Yelp reviewer. The people at Mesquite River Brewing in Scottsdale, Arizona shared their story with us. They were given a bad Yelp review, as if there is any other type, based on a guest beer. Another reason why some breweries hesitate to serve food. Why risk a neutral or negative review of food to impact the opinion of the beer? Have a sense of adventure, fly blind every once in a while.

So, taking all this in to account I spent a few days trying to come up with a rating system. With a little help from my wife I realized that I’ve already been rating breweries since day one – with growlers!

I will not be rating a brewery or beer and giving it three out of five growlers. It will be a 3-tier system defined as a Taster, a Pint or a Growler.  If a brewery is rated a Growler it’s because I physically own one from that brewery. I considered a fourth rating but it’s hard to imagine a place being so bad that I wouldn’t even suggest trying it.

Rating System Overview

Ratings will be based on:

  1. Beer
  2. Brewery or tap room
  3. People
  4. The food is a factor but if it’s not served that is not a negative.  Remember we’re here for the beer.

Taster or Flight – A neutral or negative response. Every brewery and every beer deserves a chance, but if nothing about them stands out i.e. the people, the brewery or the beer??? Then, in my book, it’s worth a taste. You may never go back, but, it’s an experience. You may even find a beer you like or it’s just a place nearby to meet a friend.

Pint – A positive response. There is something unique or special about this place. It has an amazing location, feature in its tap room or the food is high-quality.  Maybe it has a few good beers, a world-class brewed beer or perhaps so many that you’ll never get to them all. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly.

Growler – Above and beyond expectations. As stated before, this rating is physical, a brewery receives a growler rating because I purchased one from them. This is a brewery that does everything great, they have several impressive beers and are not afraid to try new things. The people are companionable and know a great deal about the beer, the brewery or the history of the company. There is a chance that you can meet and talk to the brewer or owner or even sneak in a tour. The food (if served) is amazing or as unique as the beer.

There are also some x-factors that can boost a rating so look out for the editor’s note on bathrooms, as evidently that is something people care about. The goal is to provide a short review for all the reasons to visit or not and maybe give some information that can’t be found on Google.  NOTE: If you think my review is off-base, then that’s not a reason to start a fight.  It is, however, an excellent reason to sit down to talk over a beer.

Liked what I had to say?  Then please rate this blog three purple horseshoes.


2 thoughts on “Highly Overrated

  1. Pingback: Wait If You Can | Beer Today ~ Blog Tomorrow

  2. Pingback: No Degree Required | Beer Today ~ Blog Tomorrow

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