Last week saw the ingeniously named US beer-rating site RateBeer hand out its annual awards. Finally, all of the brewers who had spent the last 12 months complaining about the bad reviews their beer had received on the site were able to finally sing its praises as they collected their medals at the ceremony.
Now don’t get me wrong, RateBeer can be a useful resource, especially if you’re visiting an area for the first time, and you want to know some of the best places to grab a decent beer. However, despite a select few young breweries receiving a collective pat on the back at the awards, much of the opinion on the site seems to be heavily weighted by the opinions of a handful of super users. It only takes one or two of this elite inner sanctum to go crazy about a release to send hundreds upon hundreds of traders ape-shit with ISO (In Search Of) requests on trading forums. Yes, these things actually exist.
This got me thinking: why do some breweries get all this praise when others don’t, despite brewing beer that’s equally as accomplished? Hyperbole can be a brewery's best friend or its worst enemy – and it might cause the casual enthusiast to miss out on some fantastic beer.
One beer I came back to recently was Northern Monk’s New World IPA. It was a decent beer to start with, but with time, research and effort it’s grown into a truly magnificent product. It’s redolent with notes of pine, mango, lemon juice and has that West Coast sweet malt thing going on that helps you effortlessly ride the wave of bitterness that follows. It’s from what I perceive to be a cool brewery, who've got a cool taproom just outside Leeds city centre, and it’s in a cool 330ml can. I can’t for the life of me figure out why people aren’t losing their heads over this beer. So maybe it’s time you did.