Don’t Tell Me How to Rate My Beer!

Untappd Social AppAs of late, I’ve been hearing a lot of folks who use the Untappd app say they rarely rate or comment on the beers they check-in because they’re afraid of how the brewery might react if they don’t give a favorable review. And, that makes me sad. Sad that they feel intimated by brewers and breweries. Sad that they are being bullied on social media for their very real experience with a beverage.

To be honest, there’s a lot of really bad beers out there. By “bad”, I mean sub par. Sometimes it’s quite simply a flawed recipe. Other times, something didn’t go right during the brewing or fermenting process. Or perhaps inferior ingredients were used to cut costs. Bottom line, if a beer doesn’t taste good – it doesn’t taste good. Plain and simple.

With the amount of breweries popping up across the country, the bar continues to be raised on taste and quality. We beer enthusiasts have tried hundreds… even thousands of craft brews. Through that process we are refining our palettes and becoming educated about the nuances of each beer style. We know when a beer doesn’t taste as it should because we have extensive tasting experience.

I’ve yet to personally experience a brewery engage in a heated debate with me using an inflammatory tone over how I’ve rated a beer. In fact, I’ve had quite a few thank me for my honest feedback.

But I have had several friends tell me that they were reamed out by a brewery for their less than favorable comments or rating. And, now they are fearful of using these social beer apps the way they were intended. They simply check-in the beer then turn to me and tell me why it sucked. I’ve even had one friend get banned from a local brewery for rating their beer as poor on Untappd. What?! Banned? That’s ridiculous.

I’m taking a stand right here and now against these bullies. Listen up breweries! If you can’t take the God’s honest truth about your product then maybe you should consider another career path. You apparently have no respect for your customers or would be customers. I understand that some folks may use harsh words to comment on your beer but let’s be frank, when you work as a craftsman in any industry you need to learn to accept criticism and turn it into a positive. I know first hand by working in the advertising industry that you need to get thick skin when dealing with reactions of customers to your work. We can’t win them all. We just keep our heads high and strive to grow and improve our craft.

I empower you, my fellow craft beer drinker, to be confident in your ratings and not shy away from commenting. Don’t let the immaturity of a few brewers deter you! There are way more breweries that know the value of your opinion and understand how to positively interact with their customers and fans.

Constructive Criticism
And with that empowerment, I ask that you make your criticism constructive so a brewery knows specifically what could be improved… the taste… the texture… the packaging design… etc. Don’t just say “this sucks” or “worst beer I ever had”. Speak as you would like to be spoken to. Don’t be nasty or harsh with your tone. But most importantly, be honest and straight forward. Be free to exercise your right to your opinion!

It’s Not My Style
If the brew you are tasting is not a style of beer you prefer, don’t rate it low because you don’t like the taste. For instance, if stouts aren’t your thing it is NOT okay to give the beer a 1.5 rating with a snarky comment like “This stout is so heavy and tastes like coffee. Yuck.” or  “IPAs are far too bitter. How can anyone drink this?” If that style is technically meant to taste that way according to style guidelines, then the brewer has made a successful beer. It’s perfectly okay that you do not like a certain style of beer. And, it’s okay to comment why you don’t like that style. Just, please, do not give it a low rating. It is not fair to the brewers that worked so hard on making a quality product.

(Follow Me On: Twitter & Untappd: @dzyngrl | Instagram: @dzyngrl14)

7 Comments on Don’t Tell Me How to Rate My Beer!

  1. I wonder if breweries get all knee jerked because someone isn’t the first person to tell them their beer sucked.

    Sliding a bar on Untappd is not the same as giving an in depth review, so since most people rate to their tastes, I would hope the breweries wouldn’t get all hurt. Not everyone’s going to like your beer. Yes, it would be nice if more people included comments like “well constructed, but just not my thing”, but a lot of people don’t.

    As far as my experience, I once had Six Point toast a beer a gave a two star review to (no comment, but I just didn’t like it). So I think some breweries “get it”.

  2. I understand why specific breweries weren’t called out in this article, but specificity would have reinforced the argument.

    I wish this would have touched upon the trend of listing years for each beer as part of the rating process. Untappd indicates that year is only to be added if the recipe changes or if it’s vintage (, but this process probably illustrates a feedback loop should a brewer be listening and/or actively trying to improve their product.

    • The reason breweries names were left out was two-fold:

      – It didn’t happen directly to me. Calling out the offending Brewers would have made targets out of the people who reported the incidences to me.

      – I also didn’t want the offending breweries to be bullied by anyone who read the article which would have been inevitable. I wanted folks to react with positive actions… Rating and commenting in spite of the breweries’ not so professional actions.

  3. Well put! You’re definitely on to something here. Most craft beer I’ve had is great, but I have encountered my share of duds. As for the breweries and brewers themselves, fortunately the vast majority of brewers I’ve met have been very generous with their time and plenty fun to talk to. Occasionally, though, I see a few brewers get up in arms from time to time when people criticize their beers on FB chat forums of which I’m a part. (Sometimes, though, I think that brewers’ frustrations are understandable, especially when someone leaves shrill or unconsidered feedback.)

    I once read a particularly questionable article addressed to beer bloggers, exhorting them to praise craft beer and breweries to the skies, seemingly no matter what. I wrote about it on my site in an article entitled “The Uncritical Embrace of Craft Beer?” Much of what I wrote resonates with what you wrote.

    • “Passion” is one thing, but an enthusiasm that crosses over into a fetishization of all things craft beer only results in a dulled critical consciousness.”

      Agreed entirely! Far too often, I see craft beer advocates, bloggers, podcasters, etc. give everything and anything an over-the-top thumbs up. It makes you wonder what kickbacks they’re getting from the brewery. lol. But in all seriousness, it does make me respect their opinion and reviews less when they endorse everything. Surely, “all the beers” can’t be spectacular.

      ‘Cheers’ to you and thank you for pointing to your article 🙂

  4. For those unfamiliar with their Untappd settings and recent changes, one can turn off brewery comments all together. This setting is located under your privacy settings. The brewer can still see your rating and comments, they are just unable to reply. I’ve been to a lot of breweries that make less than stellar beer and I always say ‘just because you can make and sell beer doesn’t mean you should’.

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