23 January 2008

Ratebeer completes "The World's Largest Beer Competition"

The folks at RateBeer.com have just compliled the giant piles of user-provided data to come up with The RateBeer Best 2008 - a collection of lists of the best beers and brewers in the world.

What beer is at the top of the list? None other than Three Floyd's Dark Lord Oak Aged Imperial Stout (up from #4 in last year's results). Rounding out the top five are (#2) Westvleteren Abt 12, (#3) Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter, (#4) Struise Black Albert, and (#5) Surly Darkness.

There is bad news (well, kinda) for Three Floyds - they've been knocked out of the top brewer spot spot by Struise, who did not appear on last years list. Rounding out that list are (#3) Port Brewing/Lost Abbey, (#4) Bell's Brewery, and (#5) Närke Kulturbryggeri.

UPDATE by Jason (1/25/08): I received a note from Struise's brewmaster Urbain Couttreau giving some clarification to their history on RateBeer.com:

"As a matter of fact, we did appear on the last years list, but still with our beers under the Deca brewery. We were initially contract brewers at that time and we received from Ratebeer 8 golden awards in 2007. Due to our energy, the Deca brewery climbed from nowhere to the 32nd place in the top 100 of the best brewers in 2007. Several weeks ago, we were separated from this chart and we were given our own brewer’s chart by ratebeer.

"Just to say that we are not an upstart because we are already active since 2001. Our Pannepot figures in the top 50 of ratebeer since 2005. Our Struise Witte was 17th best Wheatbeer at the same time."


  1. I find it a bit troublesome that one style--Imperial Stouts--are so prevalent in the best beers list. I wonder about the qualifications of the judges. I haven't looked at their qualifications, but I'll take Ratebeer's word for it when they say that the judges were experienced.

    All that said, I can kind of understand why there are so many Imperial Stouts on the list because there's rarely been an Imperial Stout that I didn't like after trying it. In fact, I can't think of one single Imperial Stout that I didn't think was at least very good in quality.

    Anyway, mazel tov to Nick Floyd and the crew for producing the world's top beer (at least according to Ratebeer) and for being the #2 brewery.

  2. Well, the page says:

    Strongly supported by solid tasting experience: Even though the competition judging is fairly open to all consumers, the vast majority of ratings, 88%, were submitted by persons with over 100 tastings reported.

    So I'm assuming that the reviews they used were just the reviews submitted to the site by readers - and at 88% over 100 tastings, that would lead me to believe that people know what they're talking about.

    But it is interesting that the first IPA comes in at 14th... Hopslam doesn't appear until position 78... if anything, the list is nice for knowing we've got a long way to go when it comes to drinking the best beers. So in that way, it's... inspiring? That's probably not the right word. Encouraging might be a better one.

  3. Good point, Mike. And who am I to question qualifications? It's not like I'm BJCP certified or anything. I was just surprised to see Imperial Stout after Imperial Stout on that list. C'mon, Ratebeer judges--without variety, life can get dull.

  4. Big beer will always be at the top of the heap.

    A well made brown ale that is tops in its category would never stand a chance against even a mediocre RIS or a DIPA. Just the way it is with those sites. Those sites actually bother me a little bit because people don't base their decisions on style category (usually anyway) and rate it based on overall against all categories.

    The thing I hate about the OA Dark Lord is that the one day a year when you can try it is on DL day, but the brewpub is packed, it is noisy, and you are elbow deep with everyone. It really took away the experience when I had it. It was pretty good, but I couldn't be partial to it. I had tried so many things that day.

    I've got several bottes of the Abyss coming my way if any of you HBG's are interested in giving it a try. Perhaps we cold do a "night of the living stouts" and try a several of them.

  5. Matt - I've been slacking on reading your blog - you've gotten into a ton of beers I've been wanting to try.

    I'm sure everyone would agree that we'd definitely be interested in helping you drink your beer... send an email to hoosierbeergeek@gmail.com and we'll get plans in place.

  6. Woah, the sample sizes for some of those beers are really, really small, only 10 reviews in one case. I think they need to set their minimum review number a little higher than 9. It's almost like they set the number that low so they could get more Struise beers on there.

    I know the number of reviewers for Rate Beer is a lot smaller, but IMDb uses a cutoff of 1300 reviews to be included in their top 250 movies list.

  7. Ditto what Mike said, Matt.

  8. Sorry about that, sometimes I can't contain my geekiness!

  9. Chris, I agree. I didn't realize that the threshold was so low. That's interesting.

    Maybe when there is a lull in reporting on the primaries, CNN can cover the RateBeer scandal!

  10. I agree, I would think at least 100 votes would be required. It's ridiculous that beers can get up there with so few votes. Though not as ridiculous as the gross majority of these being Imperial fill-in-the-blank. Take the Bells Bourbon Barrel 7000; it doesn't even have a description and its 19th! I love bourbon-aged Imperial Stouts as much, if not way more than the next guy, but I wouldn't say they are the best beers on earth. That said, if you ignore all of the extreme beers, the normal styles do have some very good examples in there.