Everyone loves a good rating system! While our rating system may not be the most precise and absolute method by which to judge these yeasty brews, it provides a quick (and highly subjective) breakdown of the merits of each beer by look, smell, taste, and feel–just like how we judge our fellow humans.
The OVERALL RATING is on a scale of 1-to-5 pint glasses. One glass indicates that the beer in question is pretty damn terrible, and you probably shouldn’t rush out to your local beer store to grab a sixer (unless your intention is to leave it on an enemy’s front stoop). Five glasses indicate that the beer in question is pretty much the best thing in the world. Take the day off, find a bar that serves it on tap, and reflect on how lucky we are to live in a world where you can dump a few simple ingredients into a huge copper brew kettle and be rewarded with a magnificent creation. Magic and chemistry are kind of the same thing, and a five-glass beer proves it.
The “sight” category refers to what the beer looks like after a pour. What’s the color? Clarity? Head retention? Lacing? Most beers should retain a fair amount of head for at least a few minutes after the initial pour. Sweeter beers will leave behind a trace of lace on the edges of the pint glass, too.
The “scent” category judges the aroma of the beer. Most beers will give off an initial smell of malt or hops. Malt-heavy beers will produce a more roasted malty smell, with undertones (and sometimes overtones) of chocolate, coffee, or caramel. It largely depends on the type of malt used (and sometimes the process). Hop-heavy beers will invoke the smells of grass, pine trees, flowers, and in some cases, weed (like, marijuana–yep!). It largely depends on the type of hop used. There are dozens and dozens of hop varieties, and most have their own unique flavor. Some popular types of hops include Cascade (spicy and floral), Simcoe (grapefruit and pine), and Amarillo (spicy and citrus).
The “flavor” category is clearly the most important. What does the beer actually taste like? And further, is it GOOD?
The “feel” category refers to how the beer feels in your mouth (let’s avoid all “that’s what she said” comments, please); or its “mouthfeel” and body. Is it creamy? Watery? How carbonated is it? Often, even if the beer tastes right and delicious and all those wonderful things, if the mouthfeel is off, it can ruin the entire beer-drinking experience.