In this new modern era of beer drinking, it is now possible to use social media as a forum to discuss and score every ale you try, a great way of keeping check on whether your own personal consumption is far more than the national average!
I must admit, I am definitely guilty of scoring virtually every real ale that I’ve tried since discovering the Untappd app, and furthermore I found that I was far exceeding my weekly units of alcohol (all in the name of research though!). The question I find myself asking, is firstly do we need it? Secondly, is it a true representation of the beer, the brewery and the work that goes on behind the scenes to deliver it to the point where it sits in front of us at the end of a long day? Of course, the very nature of individual opinion is that it is subjective, and thank god we all have different tastes, likes and dislikes or else how boring would making beer be?! Personally I enjoy it, I do often look rather anti-social, sat taking pictures of my pint and then deciding how best to word my review without coming across offensive or indeed belittling the obvious hard work that has gone in to producing it. I’m quite happy that I understand what I like and what I don’t like, but if for whatever reason, that particular pint isn’t for me, then it will be scored on its merits and whether or not it achieves what it has set out to achieve i.e. I don’t like Brussel sprouts, but I have one on my Christmas dinner as its tradition, and if said sprout still tastes like a sprout then it surely cannot be scored any less by me because I don’t like sprouts. In beery terms, I’m somewhat like this with sour beers, they’re just not my bag. However, I am fascinated by the processes used to produce the flavour and in particular the fizz it achieves, this was apparent to me at a recent visit to The Chorlton Brewing Co. I tried their Dark Matter beer, and this was a truly one of a kind dark ale, like nothing I’d ever had before, not something I’d opt to drink but the lime and depth of flavour completely reinvigorated my senses! Thus it received an honest appraisal.
With particular focus on cask ale, and interestingly something touched upon in recent blogs by Cloudwater Brewery, cask is so heavily reliant on a number of factors, the fact is, that it is virtually a living and developing drink at all times means that if any one of the links in the chain collapse, the consequences can be terrible for the finished beer. So I also bear this in mind when scoring, unfortunately far too many drinkers will still wince their eyes and drink through the pain of a beer that has turned. Although I do believe as the pride in our National drink returns, more people are plucking up the confidence to say ‘that’s not right’, and taking it back to the bar.
From the brewers perspective, the passion and hard work that goes into each and every single beer, to have someone review your beer as ‘tasting like sour milk’, smacks of ignorance and a complete lack of appreciation of what it is that you are actually drinking. Craft ale is not a mass produced, flavourless commodity, shipped out in its tens of thousands, to line the pockets of shareholders and directors! Craft ale is made with love, by real people putting their time and effort into creating a unique drink flavoured with all sorts of weird and wonderful hops and adjuncts, and take it from me the proceeds of which go to providing for real families.
So, in my opinion, Beer Scoring is great! But only if people are truly honest and appreciative of what they are drinking.