Jeff over at Beervana (one of the best of the Oregon beer blogs) has a great three-part series he wrote last week on reviewing beer that I think should be required reading for those of us in the beer blogging world, or the beer rating sites, or, well, anyone interested in tasting and reviewing their beer.
Reviewing a beer is a unique exercise–different than tasting it on one’s own or judging it for a competition. A review is a communication that depends on a series of assumptions. When you review a beer, you are taking into account more than just the elements of style. You’re trying to figure out where the beer fits in the context of the market–how does it compare to other beers; what does it add to the public conversation; what will people used to drinking other similar beers think? Many reviewers opt for the homebrew-judge model, or a purely descriptive one, but when I read reviews, I like a little more context.
I tend to review beers via the “tasting notes” method which I think misses a lot of the larger context Jeff is describing in this series. In general that’s just the way my mind works, though as I’m drinking the beer there is always more reflection and rumination that almost never makes it into my notes (and subsequent reviews).
Of course, my reviews therefore tend to drift into the “dry” territory; I should probably start to practice what Jeff is preaching…