Cheers to Don Russell, who this week asks why we need a score to choose a beer. The headline: 100-point scale for beer ratings a rank idea.
Specifically, he writes about Pislner Urquell hanging an advertisement on its bottle necks declaring it the world’s “highest-rated pilsner.” That according to the Beverage Tasting Institute, the same guys who sparked the Anheuser-Busch vs. Capital Brewery silliness.)
Russell doesn’t like ratings based on a 100-point scale taken from wine, because:
– They’re unneeded.
– They’re inflationary.
– They’re anti-beer.
On the last count he writes:
The mere process of rating wine, in which a few experts – whose standards do not reflect the masses – influence the marketplace, is elitist and autocratic.
Beer is democratic by nature and should reject any high-handed incursion by taste-makers who insist they know better.
Russell gives Jerald O’Kennard, who runs the Beverage Tasting Institute, a chance to speak up for using the 100-point scale. And I know first hand that consumers like the ratings. They are one of the most popular features in All About Beer magazine, which I write for regularly.
No arguing that people like numbers and use them. So they good or bad for small breweries?
This is an area where we can look to wine, because the 100-point scale has been debated far longer. And since I’m biased I suggest you check out an essay by W.R. Tish: Ten Reasons We All Lose When Numbers Dominate the Marketplace.
Most of the time you could just plug in beer when he writes wine and the sentences make perfect sense.
Try it with his final point: “We are living in the Golden Age of wine; quality and selection of bottlings available in the US are both unprecedented. If we all stop slinging numbers around so frequently, more people would be able to enjoy this Golden Age.”