Monday, January 31, 2011

RateBeer Top 100 reactions

The Rate Beer Best Beers in the World list is out -- which is nothing more than an aggregate of the 100 beers with the highest rating on the site -- and yes, no surprise, it is heavily weighted towards big beers, and heavily weighted towards a relatively small group of pants-wettingly hyped breweries (over half of the 100 "best beers in the world" come from only nine breweries?). I have no real problem with the second issue -- things like that happen in this kind of rating/voting -- but the first one? As Stephen Beaumont said,
"In the style listing of the top 50 beers, the word “Imperial” appears 39 times! The word pilsner? Zero times, in the entire 100."
Beaumont titles that post "Why Brewers Make So Many Strong Beers." Martyn Cornell, a strong voice for session beers and traditional British beers, takes it a step further, titling his post on the subject "Why extremophiles are a danger to us all," a post that has set off a tiny bit of a firestorm. Both posts point out that this kind of widely-reported excitement -- in what is essentially a niche within a niche -- has an effect on what beers are available for the average craft beer drinker.

It is not my intention to set off a firestorm today. Not my nature, you know. What I do want to say is that this is exactly the reason this blog is here: to draw more attention to session beers, beers "to the left of the dial," that are under the big ABV radar but still have deliciously full flavor. It's working, but maybe we need to deliver a louder statement. You know...set off a firestorm. 

Accordingly, I am reading manifestos this week, learning from the masters.
A specter is haunting American craft breweries -- the specter of Session Beer.
All the Powers of extreme craft brewing have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter. Where is the beer under 6% that has not been decried as "weak session beer" by its opponents in extremism? Where the extreme brewer who has not charged that session beers take attention from the extreme beers that fire the public imagination?*
Two things result from this fact:
I. Session Beer is already acknowledged by all extreme craft brewers and drinkers to be itself a Movement.
II. It is high time that Session Beer brewers and drinkers should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Session Beer with a Manifesto of the movement itself.
When, in the course of enjoying beer, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of drinkers to assume among the beer drinkers of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all good beer drinkers are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are beer, variety, and the pursuit of hoppiness; that to supply these rights breweries are instituted, deriving their just powers from the purchases of the drinker. Whenever any form of beer hype becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new movement, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its definition in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their drinking pleasure and happiness.
Hmmm...who would have thought Elizabeth Cady Stanton's writing would serve as a model for a drinking platform? Will wonders never cease? I am liking the manifesto idea. But I think I'll keep it shorter. Much shorter, it's got to fit on a t-shirt!

*Guys...absolutely all in fun. I know that all involved have made or enjoyed session beers. I'm just riffing on Karl Marx here, and his Manifesto is the most famous...and required a bogeyman. The manifesto I write for the SBP will not. Promise you that.


  1. Great post! I am pushing session beers among my circle of all too often inebriated, high alcohol beer drinking friends.

  2. Hey Lew,

    In related news, RateBeer also debuted one (and renamed a couple others) new style category in the Best By Style Category list. What's it called?

    Low Alcohol.

    Somehow, that's created far less of a stir. :-)

    My point here is that the emotional reaction we're focusing on makes less sense when the entire body of RateBeer and RateBeer lists are viewed.

    Is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences only interested in big Hollywood blockbuster films? By looking at the Best Picture nominees for the last decade, one would assume so. But there's more to AMPAS than just best picture.



  3. Got a link? Cuz I didn't get a release on any of this, just saw it on other blogs. You shoot me a link on that, and I'll have a look, no problem.
    But I'll admit: I have a hard time believing that it's going to make much difference in perspective with the "entire body of RateBeer and RateBeer lists."


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