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How We Rate Beer - Better Beer Authority

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Published on Feb 16, 2011

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James Knott takes a second to explain the methods and philosophy behind the BBA rating scale. We are often told that are ratings are too low, but they were written that way on purpose. This is a rare look into the mind of the Better Beer Authority.

Partial Transcript: "Hi. I'm James Knott and this is the Better Beer Authority. I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the BBA rating scale. On several occasions we've had people question are ratings -- thinking that they are too low.

Near the beginning of the show, I wrote out a rating scale to give the numbers some actual meaning. It's based on the idea that a truly good beer would inspire you to seek it out again, recommend it to your friends and, importantly, fork over your hard-earned dollars for another sip.

The guys on the show take this very seriously. They usually read the rating scale each show before they decide on their rating. I've only asked that they be honest with their opinion as to how the beer fits onto the scale for them and to not feel peer pressure to conform to what other craft beer enthusiasts feel about the beers we are rating.

I purposely wrote the ratings so that they would come out a little lower, so that when we did have a 9 or 10, then you knew we considered it to be a truly exceptional beer. Even though we tasted tons of high-end beers in 2010, our average rating was 6.8 for the year. Our highest overall was 9.0 and our lowest was 3.0.

Our ratings are highly subjective. We aren't rating by style. We aren't BJCP beer judges. We are average guys with average beer backgrounds. We focus on our personal opinions. When we give a beer an average rating, we aren't necessarily saying that it's poorly made or has bad ingredients. We are just saying that it doesn't inspire us personally.

Part of our theory, is that if you seem to agree with a certain panelist over-and-over again on beers that you've tried, then there is a good chance that you can trust their recommendations on beers that you haven't had yet. Further, if all three panelist give a high rating -- I'd say an 8 or higher, then you can assume we've found a beer that has broad appeal.

While the show, focuses more on taste than cost, cost can also be a factor. Brewing beer is a business and if you aren't willing to shell out real dollars for a beer, then maybe the brewer has missed on his combination of recipe and price. If our panelists give a high rating, then it is expected that they would be willing to shell out their own money to buy the beer in the future. "

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