“Beer reviews—those are like wine reviews, right?” We get that a lot, but the answer never gets simpler. Yes, beer reviews are like reviews of other beverages in that a group of experts tastes, reports on and rates each brew. But beer’s a special beverage, and with it comes unique challenges when it comes to sipping and scoring. Think about it: Wines are expected (and encouraged) to taste different from year to year; each vintage should reflect the grape harvest, climate and conditions of a particular place and time. But a Sam Adams Boston Ale should taste the same whether you open it in winter or summer, in 2002 or 2012—and that consistency is no small feat. Beyond that, beer is judged according to how well it represents its particular style; the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) recognizes about 100 different beer styles, with more being developed every year. Most beers are brewed according to strict parameters set for each style, so when we judge a beer, we’re not just looking for how swell it tastes; we’re measuring it up against established style rules.

DRAFT’s reviews are organized an conducted by our beer editor, who leads a panel of BJCP-certified beer judges through blind tastings several times each month. Using the judging guidelines set forth by the BJCP, the panel analyzes each beer’s aroma, appearance, taste, mouthfeel and intangible qualities, and evaluates how well each of those factors represent the beer’s style. Each brew is scored on a 100-point scale, which corresponds to the following recommendations:

100: A truly remarkable beer that goes beyond taste, style and expectations. A score of 100 must be voted on by an additional panel of experts.
95-100: DRAFT Classic
90-94: Exceptional
85-89: Very Good
80-84: Good
75-79: Recommended
0-74: No recommendation

The most important thing to remember about our reviews is that they’re ours; you may taste beer differently than our experts, and no review can substitute a real beer on your own two lips. Use our reviews to inspire your beer-buying habits and to inform your palate about the nuances of new styles. Keep track of what you sip, write your own reviews and share them on; we look forward to hearing how your tastes match (or don’t match) our own.