Rate My Craft Beer Bar

After some reflection of last weeks heavy hitting articles, I have done some thinking and come up with a new idea.  Firstly you should read the following articles to get the background on why and how things have changed.

Wasted by Andy Crouch

How the craft-beer movement abandoned Jim Koch (and his beloved Sam Adams).

“Staring at the beer menu, Koch began to criticize the selection. More than half of it, he said, wasn’t worthy of being served—inadvertently insulting the establishment’s owner, who unbeknownst to Koch was sitting next to him. Then Koch interrogated the beer manager about the offerings. Unsatisfied with the answers, Koch complained about the beers so intensely that an employee at the bar teared up. Koch rose from his seat and walked into the keg room, where he started checking freshness dates on his competitors’ kegs.”

Sam Adams and Why We Need To Stop Listening to Hipsters

“Stop giving power to these trolls. They know nothing, they do nothing, and pretty soon they won’t be able to buy your shit anymore when the trust fund runs out. The best part of Jamie’s quote from above is “Right now, it’s about what is shiny and new.” Right now. That’s the key insight here: all of this is temporary. That doesn’t make it any less annoying or infuriating when I’m stuck sitting next to five dude-bros at a bar who ordered a flight and can’t figure out which is the IPA and which is the stout but are still totally beer geeks, bro. It doesn’t make it any less annoying to see an eyeroll when I send a beer back for having an off-flavor that fuck you, yes I can detect, because I’m not so fuckhead 21-year-old from Emerson having his first brown ale.”

What’s the difference between craft beer snobs and Kopparberg drinkers?

“Craft beer, whatever you want to call it, has gone mainstream. Now, it’s growing up and maturing, and it already has several generations of brewers. Without the pioneers, the rest wouldn’t be here today. And while today’s newbies push the envelope ever further – which is what they should be doing – the bigger, older breweries are getting better at what they do, building bigger names, and providing a bridge between the mainstream and the cutting edge. If you simply reject their achievements and their vital contemporary role in favour of what’s new this week, whatever that is, you’re not interested in authenticity and story at all. You’re just following the latest fad among your peer group. And that makes you no more discerning, no cooler, no edgier, than the guy pouring his strawberry and lime flavoured ‘cider’ over ice.

Pete Brown and Luke Nicholas
Pete Brown & Luke Nicholas, drinking a UK brewed Epic Pale Ale on tap at JD Wetherspoons in 2009

There are many interesting points in the above articles, as well as their comments (worth reading the comments). The Jim Koch piece could come across as a little “boohoo, poor me no one wants to stocks my beer, yet I’m a billionaire”. Then again there is a good point about the quality of beer on tap. Sometimes quality comes behind, what’s new these days.

What’s great this week, is going to be old next week, and no one wants to drink it. It has become a treadmill of endless new beers. This is a fractal  as we travel down the long tail. As the market becomes more and more segmented. As more and more new brands enter the market they will get a smaller and smaller percentage of market share. Occasionally the odd new beer will raise above the rest, but mostly the new beers will not get more market share than the beers before them.

Sorry that is a bit deep, but it is just what I am thinking right now.

Maybe there is a way to put this new beer craze into perspective. How about a rating on craft beer bars, based on the beers they have on tap. (This is a work in progress and there needs to be given some thought for anomalies that may come up such as brand new beers with no ratings to work with).

If there is a score for each craft beer bar in a city, and people make their decision on which bar to go to based on their score, then does this force bars into stocking more of the better beers rather than the whats new beers?

Here are some examples from Auckland. The list of beers on tap were taken from TapHunter on the afternoon of Tuesday 13th January.

My Bar – SCORE = 3.53

Garage Project Orange Sunshine – 3.47
Mikes Organic Taranaki -3.86
Tuatara Helles – 3.34
Zeffer Cider – 3.45
14.12/4

The Lumsden FreehouseSCORE = 3.59

Untapped
BrewDog Dead Pony Club 3.625
Epic – Imp 3.945
Golden Eagle Citradel 3.525
Good George Doris Plum 3.686
Guinness Draught 3.825
Hawkes Bay Ginger Fusion 3.848
Hawkes Bay Pilsner 3.071
Kereru Karengose 3.392
Lakeman Lahar 3.603
Liberty Citra Junior 3.875
Mikes Organic Thc 3.455
Moa Checkpoint Charlie 3.382
Newmarket Nude  0
North End Fieldway APA 3.47
Sawmill 12 Gauge 3.587
50.289
14 3.59

Vultures LaneSCORE = 3.72

8 Wired C4 Double Coffee Brown Ale 3.873
Behemoth Hop & Hay 3.548
Funk Estate Sophisticuffs 3.657
Golden Eagle Coalface Stout 3.816
Good George Any Time Pale Ale 3.93
Good George Kiwi Sour 3.825
Good George Nitro Stout 3.752
Guinness Draught Nitro 3.825
Hop Federation Brown Ale 3.554
Lakeman Hairy Hop 3.474
Lakeman Taupo Pale Ale 3.857
Liberty Citra Junior 3.875
North End Amber 3.551
Ranga Alcoholic Ginger Beer 0
Sawmill Sticky Bandits 3.938
Townshend Old House ESB 3.758
Yeastie Boys Man At The Back 3.361
59.594
16 3.72

So the above has potential as an idea for a phone app. If the taps were kept up to date using a service like Taphunter, and then information was pulled in from one or all the beer rating sites (Untappd, RateBeer, BeerAdvocate), and an algorithm applied then you could get a live list of the best beer bar in the city based on the beers they have on tap.

This potentially changes the way that bars stock beers. It moves things from whats new to what is the best range of beers on a particular day.

Food for thought.

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3 thoughts on “Rate My Craft Beer Bar”

  1. It’s a good idea, but still has the endless problem of beer ratings. Quite simply, they are subject to hype, and often not even remotely reflective of the quality of a beer. Then there’s batch variation… but I don’t have solutions for these issues, just raising them.

  2. Also, not sure if this is just me (tried in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari) but I can’t see the comments. The CSS seems to have them in white-on-white! Highlighting the text reveals it.

  3. I’ve been to VL on 4 occasions, it’s a specific trip, and 4 times it’s been really disappointing as a venue, beers not on tap, surly and disinterested staff I don’t know that even if got a 5 I’d make the effort to go there again. A beer rating is a good start though, and the least complicated way of judging a venue for your own enjoyment (even if I only came her to moan a bit)

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