12 February 2013

HBG KOTBR Reviews | Time to Bid Goodbye to Mug Ratings

For nearly six-and-a-half years, we as the Knights of the Beer Roundtable have been reviewing beers on this website. In fact, that was the initial raison d'être for the blog; we wanted to convene a few times a month, drink some beer, and share our thoughts about that beer with our readers.

Our beloved founder Chris Maples devised a rating system for the beers we reviewed: HBG's famously arbitrary mug rating system (and forgive us, by the way, for using "mugs" as our rating touchstone; we were young and a bit naive and didn't realize that a mug was not the proper glassware for many beers). A five-mug rating marked an outstanding beer. Conversely, a one-mug rating meant that the beer was a drain-pour candidate.

Over the years, we've recognized the limited utility of the mug rating system. We've called it a "mysterious animal" because we never had beer styles in mind when we assigned our ratings and because all of us have different palates with different preferences. And frankly, we believe that people probably don't get much value out of the mug ratings.

So we've decided to ditch the mug ratings. This doesn't mean that in the future, we won't tell you if we think a beer is worth trying or isn't up to snuff. But it does mean that we won't attach a number to the review. And we hope you'll still stick around to continue reading our reviews. Indeed, we've got some great stuff in the pipeline as we try to branch out and review beers from some breweries that we previously haven't given publicity.

We're certainly open to reconsidering the decision to get rid of the mug scores if our readers tell us that this is a bad idea. So tell us what you think. In the meantime, stay tuned for some roundtable posts in the near future.


The Knights of the Beer Roundtable

Jason, Gina, Jim, Rodney, Matt, Chris, Jake, Megan, and Kristin


  1. As an alternative, consider the rating scale that Sound Opinions uses for rating albums on their radio show. Their scale is 'Buy It', 'Burn It' or 'Trash It'. I find this scale, having definitely good, somewhere in the middle and definitely bad, useful in determining which albums are worth actually purchasing. Maybe 'Buy a Growler', 'Buy a Pint' and 'Only If It's Free' as an analog to the above.

  2. I was many beers in when I received this news, and my initial reaction was a futile attempt at leaving an angry 'BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO' as a comment. For whatever reason, my phone wouldn't allow me to complete that attempt.

    In any case (and being a little more sober now), I'm sad to see this go, as it was the original idea behind the site, not to mention a huge element in the the site logo.

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys. We'll give some serious consideration to what you say. We have three roundtables in the next three weeks, so we may end up changing our minds or doing something different a la Andy's suggestion.