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2000 beers!

Posted in Beer on 2008-06-04 23:17

Rating book, Lübeck, Germany

On Saturday I finally passed a milestone I've been looking forward to for a while: beer rating number 2000. That's right. I've now tasted 2000 different beers. Or, to be more precise, I've written ratings of 2000 different beers on RateBeer, which is how I can be sure of the exact number. I tasted lots of beers before I started rating which I've never seen again since, so these are not counted.

I guess the immediate reaction of many non-beer people to this is: are there really that many beers in the world? Actually, the RateBeer database contains more than 60,000 beers, and as I keep finding new beers that are not in the database I wouldn't be at all surprised if the total number turns out to be as high as 100,000. So I still have some way to go. (In fact, nobody has come even close to rating all the beers. The closest is a Danish rater who has passed the 10,000 limit.)

Nobody's ever asked me that can recall: "why rate beer at all?", but I suspect the question has been on the minds of many. For me it started on holiday in Franconia where I tasted a number of really rare beers, some of which I had to hunt to find. It struck me that going to all this effort to find a beer and then only say "ah, that was nice", and move on seemed a bit wasteful, almost. Being already familiar with RateBeer I decided to start writing reviews of the beers so I'd at least have something tangible to show for my efforts.

Rating books, at home

Once I started I found I enjoyed the process of paying close attention to what the beer actually smelled and tasted of, and trying to describe this. It was pretty hard in the beginning, and many of my earliest ratings are now quite painful reading. Gradually, by talking to others, reading other ratings, and just practicing I got better at it, and now I find it's usually quite straightforward. In fact, now it's a good way for me to relax and tune out everything else.

I have to confess that realizing I've tasted 2000 different beers did make me stop and wonder whether perhaps I drink a little bit too much. I started in September 2005, which is two years and 9 months ago, or roughly 1000 days, so that comes out as 2 beers a day. That's 14 units of alcohol a week, which is well below the recommended limit (in the UK) of 21 units a week.

Of course, it's a little more complicated than that. When I'm rating beer I always try to get as little of each beer as possible, so I can try more different ones. This means that a substantial number of these beers are half pints (in the UK and Germany), 0.1 or 0.2 taster glasses (in brewpubs), or bottles split with other people. 102 of the beers are actually low alcohol beers (and in many cases even alcohol-free). Then again, some of these beers contain a lot of alcohol (all the way up to 20-something percent). And of course I drink alcohol which I don't rate, but I try to limit this, and will often pass on beer/wine in order to "save my quota". So the estimate of 14 units may be a little low, but I'm probably still below 21.

To round off with a little summary, below is the statistics for the number of beers I've rated from various countries. I've cut the list off at 20, to keep it short. Ratings go from 0.5 to 5.0.

Country Count Average
Norway     305    2.85   
Germany     223    3.05   
England     203    3.17   
Denmark     194    3.13   
Belgium     191    3.3   
USA     127    3.44   
Japan     102    2.99   
Sweden     100    3.02   
Ukraine     80    2.63   
Canada     67    3.27   
Netherlands     46    3.14   
Czech Republic     42    3.09   
Italy     39    3   
Russia     37    2.77   
Poland     33    2.96   
Ireland     28    3.17   
Finland     27    3.01   
Scotland     26    3.26   
Austria     22    3.11   

For those who have been following this blog for a while, there should be no surprises here, as the numbers tally pretty well with my travels since I started writing the blog.







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