Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

The audacity of statistics: Rate Beer names the best

By William Brand
Saturday, January 31st, 2009 at 1:41 pm in what's on tap.

Oh my gawd… has done it again. They have a new “best of” list for 2009. It’s based on ratings on the site.  Comments anyone? (I, personally, am speechless)

Best Brewery in the World: Three Floyds Brewing

Best Beer in the World: Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter

(Best Beer in the USA): Three Floyds Dark Lord

Best Beer Bar in the World: Kulminator (Beligum)

(Best Beer Bar in the USA): Oldsmar Tap House (Oldsmar, FL)

Best Brewpub: Dieu du Ciel! (Canada)

(Best Brewpub in the USA): The Brew Kettle (Strongsville, OH)

Best Beer Retailer: Ølbutikken (Denmark)

(Best Beer Retailer in the USA): Vintage Estate Wine and Beer (Boardman, UT)

Best Beer Restaurant: Ebenezer Kezars Restaurant and Pub (Lovell, ME)

Best Brewery to Visit: Hair of the Dog Brewing Company

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  • beerinator

    I realize you say you are speechless, but can you elaborate on what troubles you with this?

    If they actually did what they say they did (which I have no reason to doubt that they did) then this is a perfectly fair list made up of the site reviews from the past year. This is simply compiling statistics from the site’s database and spitting out the results.

    I just don’t see how this could be that troubling if you take it for what it is worth.

  • Chris

    The bottom line it is just a list of what people on prefer. I guess the one thing that troubles me is the way tries to portray their beer raters as some sort of experts. Just because you rate over 100 beers doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about.

  • Jake

    Oldsmar Tap House is the best beer bar in the country? We have easily at least a half dozen here in the bay area that have better selections.

  • Antonio

    My first response is that this would be more palatable if the word “best” were replaced with “highest rated”.

    That being said, there is an interesting statistical phenomenon that occurs with online ratings, where very good, but perhaps slightly less challenging entries end up with higher ratings than the arguably “better” or “greater” entries. This can be seen with Metacritic as well. The all time highest rated movie on Metacritic is The Godfather, yet number two is Superman II. Also in the top 15 are Rattatouille, Sideways, and Lord of the Rings. Not that these are terrible movies, they are good, but one has to wonder about the integrity of the rating system when films from the likes of Mallick, Kurosawa, and Kieslowski, all of whom are revered as geniuses who produced multiple masterpieces amongst people serious about film, don’t appear in the top 200.

    I’ve also noticed that the Beeradvocate highest rated lists tend to heavily favor darker beers, probably because the spectacular lighter (in color) beers tend to be more polarizing, thus bringing their scores down. A great Gueuze or Double IPA will inevitably be all but undrinkable to a certain segment of the population (my own pet theory is that these flavors are too strong for supertasters – people with lots of taste buds), whereas fewer people have that reaction to even the most challenging stouts.

  • Mike

    Saying what is the best beer in the world is way too subjective. You have to be kidding about the best beer bar being in TAMPA, FLORIDA. You can see what they have on tap at their site and it pales in comparison to great beer bars like the Toronado SF, O’Briens, Hamilton’s Tavern, Falling Rock, Brouwer’s, Horse Brass, Brickskeller. Here in the Bay Area you can find better Belgians at La Trappe, The Trappist or the Monk’s Kettle and Suppenkuche in SF has a much better selection of German beers.

  • Chris

    This is my favorite beer rating of all time from Beer Advocate. As the rater states, he drank Wexford Irish Cream Ale “superwarm” and for some reason gave it an “F”

    I realize that this is an extreme example but don’t ratings like this go into their “best” lists?

  • William Brand

    The only rub I have with list is the “best in the world” proclamation. Ratebeer top-rated would be accurate. But best in the whole goddamn world? Hmmm. And the Barnum & Bailey Circus is the Greatest Show on Earth.

  • craig

    how can a list like this not include an english bitter…

  • William Brand

    Because 1. English bitter doesn’t make it here, except in the bottled Pale Ale form and no doubt there’s a distinct lack of UK types present on Ratebeer. At least, that’s my humble opinion.

    Being American: Is Timothy Taylor’s Landlord a bitter? If so, it oughta be on top. Ditto Hopback Summer Lightning, If I could get those two beers on cask at a pub here, I’d never leave..

  • CelticBrew

    Sheeeesh, so what if RB gives out their “Best Of” list? Bottom line, those of us from RB have one thing in common, the love of beer. With the amount of rates and opinions, its nearly scientific when it comes to the list. But by no means is it etched in stone, certainly everyone, whether your with RB or Beer Advocate or some other beer site, is entitled to what they consider best. I do completely disagree with Chris who stated “Just because you rate over 100 beers doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about.” Well, it at least qualifies one to give a little better educated rate or opinion. Sheeesh, you could go to some other Beer site that based on “The Brothers” opinions. Just remember, its BEER. Slainte!

  • Mario (Brewed For Thought)

    All beers are equal but some are more equal than others.

  • William brand

    My only complaint is the lack of qualification It’s ratebeer’s best beer in the world

  • How to Get Six Pack Fast

    I can tell that this is not the first time at all that you mention this topic. Why have you decided to touch it again?