23 October 2007

When The Average Isn't

A recent conversation with Cavalier Distributing's Mat Gerdenich about our scoring system led some of us into thoughts of revisiting the scores we've assigned in the past. While some sites and beer competitions rate based on how well a beer represents a style, we've never thought that way - our scores are based purely on personal preference. As a result a beer in brown ale style is likely to never be a high scorer - there's just not enough flavor or complexity in a traditional brown ale to wow us.

What's interesting is to go through our scoring history and see where our personal scores average out. Thanks to the hard work of Gina and the wonders of the spreadsheet, the knights now have that information in hand.

The joke amongst the knights is that I (Mike) traditionally hate beer, and by checking the average of my scores, there's an obvious discrepancy - but not as large a discrepancy as my fellow knights suggest.

It's interesting that Gina and I have close averages - we generally have the same tastes (dating 13 years does that to people). What's more interesting is that Chris and Jason have startlingly close averages* - which means that their foresight in bringing in four more knights was not just clever, it may have been necessary.

The other interesting thing is that the knights' average isn't really average. The average beer score for the site is currently 3.58 mugs - well above the 2.5 most of us use for an "average" beer.

Interested to see everything laid out in columns and rows? The spreadsheet, with scores by knight and by brewery, is available here for download (click free and wait 45 seconds).

*Averages so close that you wonder if they're secretly holding hands under the table.


  1. I have wondered about this myself. It's all in your own tastes. I wouldn't want to see two types of ratings either like

    4.0 for it's style
    2.0 overall

    I've read enough from each of you, that if you give it a good recommendation I can feel pretty safe in trying it myself.

  2. Part of the downfall of our ratings is that we don't normally go after average beers. We look for recommendations from others with great frequency. So we just end up drinking really good beers.

    My own personal take is that I'm not so concerned with us dealing with the technical merits. There are plenty of sites that do that. And none of use are certified judges.

    Instead, I kind of see us as the Siskel and Ebert of beers. We review and give our thumbs up and thumbs down based on personal preferences. And, with six knights, we have six different opinions.

    Somebody who is finicky will read Mike's review and say "Mike doesn't like anything, but he likes this beer; maybe I should try it."

    Somebody who isn't into IPA's will read Chris's and see that he doesn't care for this particular ale and think "I probably wouldn't either."

    If we stuck with the technicals, then we'd have six people giving the same rating. But in our current format, you get true opinions, which I like.

    A quick note to Mike, thanks for outting Chris and I. Though I know you are just jealous that we don't hold your hand.

  3. Doesn't anyone want to hold my hand? ;-)

    I agree with Matt and Jason. Styles, schmyles--I think that what we're doing works well. If someone wants recommendations based upon style, there are other websites where they can go to for that information.

    If you want a distinctive brown ale, you can't go wrong with Bell's Best Brown.

  4. I think my high 'average' score just gives away the fact that I've missed the roundtables where we've had so-so beer. Or something like that.

    I know my preferences are pretty well defined, but I had no idea I was so out of sync with the other Knights. I guess I, um, really like beer.

  5. Mike has a phobia of hand holding. Jim, I'm sure Chris and I will be more than happy to include you in our love in.