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Cheap Online Beer Australia: Hunting for the best Australian beer
I’ve lately been pondering whether any beer can be justified in calling itself The Best in Australia.
Personally, I am a keen BeerAdvocate user, and while I don’t pay a huge amount of attention to their top 100 Australian beers list, I have contributed many scores towards its calculation. It’s not the only list out there, though, and they all should be considered. Aside from the Local Taphouse’s once-a-year poll, the more dynamic alternative is the RateBeer top 50. Each of these lists has its own merits, but as happens online, each also carries with it a certain community’s biases, subjective preferences and prejudices. So it got me thinking about the differences between the two lists, and whether there is a comprehensive list to be gleaned from the comparison. My thoughts extended to how professional beer judging works, and whether the Australian International Beer Awards bear any resemblance in their results to how the online community thinks.
The Critics’ Choice top beers list is the list that owns the mark of integrity. Taken from a broad spectrum of judges who have to earn and demonstrate their credentials, it combines the best of all the lists. It requires the effort of writing, careful consideration and comparisons between beers common to the RateBeer and BeerAdvocate lists, but is compiled by experienced folk who aren’t so blinkered by their geeky excitement that they lose track of what the common person in the pub wants to drink.
But while the Critics’ Choice is ideal as a reference guide, the internet is the reference point at everybody’s fingertips and with crowdsourcing so much the rage, online beer lists are simply free, peer-reviewed guides for everyday people. So what are the merits of the different lists; which one should you want to be a part of, and – the question on everybody’s lips – is there a definitive verdict on the best Australian beer?
Some vital statistics first. Both BeerAdvocate and RateBeer lists are based on beers with a minimum of 10 user ratings, and each rating must be accompanied by a minimum character limit in order to qualify. This means that both lists require thought, effort and some level of credibility, since by the laws of the site you must justify your vote. It also means that some beers can become overrated in relation to where they actually sit in the broader Australian beer scene. For example, the Mountain Goat/Thornbridge collaboration Thorny Goat Black IPA – a one-off brew no longer made – sits jarringly at #2 on BeerAdvocate, on the basis of 21 beer geeks loving it upon release (full disclosure: myself included).
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