Hall of Taps Holiday Beers

It’s the holidays, and it’s time of the year where everyone makes their lists of the top things of the year. So, let’s make our own! This is the list of the top ten hall rated beers, which have the word ‘holiday’ in their name.

The highest rated Holiday Beer currently in the Hall of Taps, is Stone Brewing Companies Stone Xocoveza For The Holidays & The New Year, coming in at a Hall Rating of 92.76. According to the Hall Rating, it’s the best holiday beer out there.  It’s only one of two stouts that round out the top 10 holiday beers.

Here are the rest of the top 10:

2. Old Friend Holiday Ale 63.07

Dark enough to feel wintry, but light enough not to offend those who don’t think they like dark beer, the brew is a perfect peacekeeper for those family gatherings when the last thing you need is something else to argue about.

3. Shiner Holiday Cheer 62.92

We hope you enjoy your Shiner Cheer, an Old World Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans. The malty flavors of this dark wheat ale are enhanced through the use of malted barley and wheat. And Kräusening ensures a smoothness that makes the subtle peach and pecan flavors all the more satisfying.

4. Festivus Holiday Ale 60.54

Smooth, spicy (allspice, ginger & cinnamon), malty with an elegant finish thanks to caramelized wort and a bit of brown sugar, this beer is sure to make the holidays better. According to the Seinfeld model, Festivus is celebrated each year on December 23rd. Those attending Festivus may also participate in the “Airing of Grievances,” which is an opportunity to tell others how they have disappointed you in the past year, followed by a Festivus dinner, and then completed by the “Feats of Strength” where the head of the household must be pinned.

5. Jingle Java Holiday Stout 56.14

enhanced with vanilla, pecan, cinnamon, caramel and rum to give it a flavor that is the perfect compliment to the holidays

6. Holiday Ale From To (Til Fra via Mikkeller) 52.00

A spiced porter with fine malt background and lovely hop aroma and flavor. The label is designed as a ‘From To’ card – fill in the names and put the bottle under the Christmas tree. The perfect gift for the lazy man/woman…! Ingredients : Water, malt (pale, smoked, cara-crystal, brown and chocolate), roasted barley, dark cassonade, hops (amarillo, saaz and cascade), spices (star anise, clove, cinnamon and coriander seeds) and yeast.

7. Special Holiday Ale 51.43

Each brew is following the same recipe, including Michigan chestnuts, white sage from southern California and Norwegian juniper berries, but differences in brewing and aging practices produce different beers

8. Red Nose Holiday Wassail 49.19

Great Basin’s Red-Nose Holiday Wassail has kept its base recipe each year – sweet, malt-forward with a biscuity finish – while the spices continue to change year after year. This year we’ve included honey, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, orange peel, chamomile, woodruff, heather tips, elderflowers, maple, and vanilla. Each of the very limited (only 300) 22 oz. hand-filled bottles is personally signed by Great Basin’s Brewmaster & Owner Tom Young.

9. Hoppy Holidays 46.36

A rich, malty beer with an assertive but balanced hop character. Hints of chocolate and dark fruits greet you on the nose. Roasted malt undertones play over your tongue and finish with an earthy hop finish.

10.Holiday Ale 45.74

Two Roads Holiday Ale is inspired by the little known Biere de Noel style, a subset of Biere de Garde, both of which originated on small farmhouse breweries in the north of France. Biere de Noel, which translates as “Christmas Beer,” tends to exhibit a more malty profile than a typical Biere de Garde.
In its native France this special type of ale is brewed by just a handful of small breweries and is only available for the few weeks leading up to Christmas.

The Hall Doesn’t Care For Your Favorite Craft Beer

Everyone has their favorite beer or even the beer that got them into the craft beer scene. We all have a go-to beer, a beer that you can’t be convinced is ‘bad’ or doesn’t ‘taste good. The formula doesn’t care for your favorite craft beer (it might be in some cases). But, for me it doesn’t care at all.

My favorite craft beer will always be High Seas IPA for the Michigan Brewing Company. Several years ago, the Brewery went bankrupt, and the recipes and brewing equipment were sold off.  So imagine my surprise when I found that we had High Seas IPA in the hall. In fact, on Untappd it has 755 check-ins according to our database. Of those 755 check-ins, 545 rated High Seas IPA and ultimately it received a dismal hall rating of 39.04. Holy crap that isn’t all that great of a rating from the hall formula.

Before I moved to LA and discovered Sculpin IPA (this was before it was regularly available in Michigan), there was a “dark period” in my life. High Seas IPA was my all-time favorite IPA. I liked it better than All-Day IPA, better than Two-Hearted. In my mind, there was no comparison.

It was the first IPA I ever had; I fell in love with it. Surely, I wasn’t the only one who loved this IPA. Well, it’s average rating on Untappd is on 3.36, not exactly the greatest average rating. If I had ever rated the brew on Untappd, I can assure you that I would have given it a ‘5.’ It left that much of an impact on me as a craft beer. But when you back drop it against other IPA’s such as Ballast Points Sculpin, it makes sense why it’s hall rating isn’t all that great.

The short of it is, enjoy what beers you enjoy. Read the reviews you want, and make your judgments. Just because it’s not worthy of the hall of taps formula doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy your favorite craft beer any less than you already do.

 

 

 

Objectivity and Subjectivity in Craft Beer

The Hall of Taps was designed out of people’s subjective opinion on each craft beer. Not to say that that everyone person has an opinion about every possible craft beer, but rather people have subjective (and unique) opinions about the different craft beers which they have drank and then rated on Untappd. There are currently over 200,000 beers with rankings from Untappd in our database. 200,000 beers that all have been tasted and then given a rating on Untappd. A number that grows with each new craft beer release and beer festival, and really each day. Despite the fact that each beer is rated on a subjective opinion of what an individual thinks of a particular craft beer, the hall of taps makes an attempt to objectively rate each beer on subjective data.  Our purpose then, is to find (1) if using Untappd data in the hall rating formula is a worthwhile endeavor (2) looking at some beers discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the hall rating and finally (3) indentify the challenges of craft beer subjectivity and how both the hall rating and Untappd Data can work together to find objectively good craft beers.

Untappd Data and The Hall Rating

The Hall of Taps makes an attempt to find the best craft beers without any sort bias. It also rates each craft beer seemingly without a bias of some sort. But, doesn’t using Untappd ratings undermine the whole process itself? Well, not exactly or at least not in the sense which you might be thinking. Right away, you might be inclined to think that beers with 100,000 or ratings will have a better hall rating than beers that have less than that number.  But, that isn’t always the case. Using Log10 (a mathematical formula) we essentially greatly level the playing field for a beer with 100,000 check-ins vs. one with only 1,000 check-ins. Simplified, Craft Beer A has 100,000 check-ins. It’s Hall Volume becomes 5. Craft Beer B has only 1,000 check-ins, but using LOG10 it’s Hall Volume becomes 3. A much more level playing field than before we applied Log10. So, when tons and tons of people check-in Bud Light on Untappd and give it an unfavorable rating, it allows for a beer like Cranium Crush to make up ground on the Hall Rating.  So, while we are using subjective data from Untappd, we are finding ways to handicap the data (in a sense) so that it becomes as objective as possible.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Hall Rating

That’s not to say that the Hall Rating is perfect, nothing is without fault. That’s why we are going to look at what’s bad about the hall rating as well as what is good about the hall rating. Down and dirty to start though the bad and ugly of the hall rating. The worst thing (also a big factor) in the hall rating in Untappd Ratings. Which is the most subjective data variable in the formula. Imagine if 500,000 people were to give bud light (intentionally) a rating of 1 star on Untappd. That would greatly skew its hall rating. Imagine the other side of that hand as well, 500,000 people give Watermelon Dorado a perfect rating of 5 on Untappd. That would as well skew its hall rating. Using Untappd data is one of the biggest weaknesses of the hall rating. It’s not like baseball where the better players will have a better batting average or strikeout rate. The Hall Rating roots itself in opinionated data, which can be problematic.

At the same time, though, it’s a good thing for the Hall rating. Subjective data is what we want. That’s the only way we are going to determine what beers are good. After all, people will drink good beers and give them good ratings, whether it’s 1,000 people or 100,000 people, people will drink what they think is a good beer. But, there will be some individuals who don’t enjoy a stout as much as the next, which is why beers with a 5 rating on Untappd are almost non-existent. But enough people give beers a favorable rating (over the individuals who give a beer an unfavorable rating) to balance out a beer and make the rating as objective as it can be.

The Challenges of Beer Opinions

 

I may like DIPA’s and you may prefer Porters, which can be be a challenge when trying to quantify what is a “good craft beer”. Of course, the problem could be remedied by me putting my favorite DIPA in a backdrop of other DIPA’s. But, that’s too easy. Then there’s macro mass produced beers versus nanobrewed craft beers. These are challenges faced by the subjectivity of craft beer. It’s very possible that your favorite craft beer is your own wheat ale homebrew that you have only ever shared with a select few. It would never make it on Untappd and then never ranked and never found to be put in the Hall of Taps.  Together, though as Untappd data becomes more available, the hall rating comes into pit a beer with 1,000 check-ins verse a beer with 100,000 check-ins and levels the playing field. Untappd is a mobile app and as more users than RateBeer and is rapidly becoming the dominant beer ranking application. Which is why it makes sense to stick to using only one (and such a dominant) craft beer platform.

The Five Best Brews From Michigan

Since its July, and in Michigan that means its craft beer month, we probably should be drinking only beer from there, while lounging down a river enjoy some of the best brews from the Mitten State. I can’t be doing that myself, but I can give you five of the best quality beers that the state has to offer using the hall of taps. First, we’ll look at the five most checked-in beers from breweries in Michigan. Then, we will look at the best beers from Michigan, even if you can’t get them right now (think KBS from Founders).

The five most checked-in Michigan craft beers are as follows:

1.       Two-Hearted Ale (Bell’s Brewery) – 786,802 check-ins

2.       All-Day IPA (Founders Brewing) – 599,494 check-ins

3.       Oberon Ale (Bell’s Brewery) – 439,487 check-ins

4.       Breakfast Stout (Founders Brewing) – 432,563 check-ins

5.       Centennial IPA (Founders Brewing) – 311,985 check-ins.

Founders and Bell’s are the most checked-in breweries from Michigan across all of Untappd users. Now, that doesn’t mean they are for people in Michigan (I would gather that they are even in state), with Founders have 3/5 of the most checked-in craft brews. But does that mean these five beers are the best ones from the state of Michigan? The Hall Rating tells us that the following five brews are the best ones from the state of Michigan:

1.       Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) (Founders Brewing) – 118.87 Hall Rating

KBS has roughly a third of Centennial IPA’s check-ins coming in at 129,662, which makes sense as it’s a limited release brew from Founders. That doesn’t stop it from being the best craft beer to come out of the Mitten State, clocking an impressive 118.87 Hall Rating.

2.       Canadian Breakfast Stout (Founders Brewing) – 111.31 Hall Rating

CBS has even fewer check-ins than KBS, only 24,655. It’s one of the hardest beers around to find, but it well lives up to the Hype boasting a 4.8 rating on Untapped to go along with an 110+ Hall Rating, showing that just brews drank in mass quantity aren’t necessarily the best.

3.        Hopslam Ale (Bell’s Brewery) – 111.05 Hall Rating

Another limited release craft beer, Hopslam comes in at third but has almost as many check-ins as KBS with 110,035. Many consider it to be Bell’s Flagship Beer (aside from Oberon), it’s a DIPA that is awesome. For a while, I was in love with it and considered it to be the best DIPA around. Moving out west though changed that, but there are still many Untappd users that consider it to be an awesome beer, and it ranks right up there with the best of them in the Hall of Taps.

4.       Two-Hearted Ale (Bell’s Brewery) – 108.16 Hall Rating

My go-to IPA, whenever it’s on tap, and I’ve tried every other beer on tap or in the bottle, it’s the beer I go to when I want something reliable. 786,802 other users have done the same, and none of the top three beers touch it regarding volume, showing that just because a beer has tons and tons of check-ins that doesn’t mean it’s the best beer available. But, the hall rating shows that if you need a beer, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better Michigan beer out there.

5.       Breakfast Stout  (Founders Brewing) – 103.61 Hall Rating

Founders dominate the top five best beers from Michigan with their Breakfast Stout coming in at third posting a 103 Hall Rating complimented by 432,563 total check-ins. The Breakfast Stout series from Founders offers three of the top five Michigan beers.

Of the top five most checked-in Michigan beers only two of them make the top five rated list. First is Bell’s Two Hearted, which is the most checked-in beer from Michigan on Untappd. But, it’s only the fourth best beer, showing that quantity doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best beer you can get. The other brew is Founders’ Breakfast Stout. That is the 4th most checked in beer from Michigan and the 5th highest rated one.

 

What Is The Hall Rating and Is It Worthwhile?

The Hall Rating is the backbone of the Hall of Taps. Without the rating, there’d be no Hall of taps. It’s that simple. The Highest rated beer in the hall currently is Heady Topper boasting a Hall Rating of 130.40. The lowest rated beer currently is Bourgogne Des Flandres with a dismal rating of -189.07.  Now, a negative beer rating shouldn’t exist, but there are over 9000 beers currently with a negative rating. So, is the hall rating in its current state suitable?

To answer that question. First, we ought to know the formula behind it first. First, we want to know how a how beer compares against other beers in its style. Let’s look at the style for Heady Topper- IPA Imperial / Double. Among Double IPAs, the lowest rated beer (with at least five check-ins on Untappd) is the Storm DIPA by BrewDog Brewery boasting a rating of 2.6 in 500+ check-ins. A quick google search shows that according to BeerRate.com the beer is no longer brewed, so that’s somewhat a plus mark in the hall rating column.

What we are trying to do here is accomplish what sabermetricians call “replacement level.’  In craft beer culture terms, from any beer style, what’s the lowest quality of beer I can get for that style. For a Double/Imperial IPA the data says a Storm, whose untapped rating clocks in a 2.6, and has a Hall Rating of 0. Which we expect for what we are going to call a replacement beer, so that’s good. But, what about Bourgogne Des Flandres and its Hall Rating of -189.07?

Let’s take a look at that. The Des Flandres comes out of the Flanders Oud Bruin Style (which I have never heard of). When we look at beers using the replacement level criteria, we can’t find the Des Flandres (as seen in Image 1 below). But, we remove our criteria (more than five check-ins and a Untappd Rating greater than 0) we find Des Flandres(see image 2). AHA! So, that partially explains the negative rating. The replacement level beer for Flanders Oud Bruin is the Oud Bruin from Beer Works sitting at an Untappd Rating of 3.11, so Des Flandres TAP rating comes out to -3.11

TAP = Untappd Rating – Replacement Level Rating

But how does it get all the way up a hall rating of -189.07?

Next, we look to check-ins, for example, the Bourgogne Des Flandres has 6,496 check-ins on Untappd but has a total rating of 0. Where Oud Bruin has 32 check-ins but a rating of 3.11 (our replacement level beer). So how do we compensate for higher check-in beers? We use the math equation LOG10 to value check-ins. That way the value of check-ins for Bourgogne Des Flandres is 3.81 whereas as the value of Oud Bruin check-ins equates to 1.5 making the value of the check-in less skewed than it was.

But how do we determine just what a perfect brew is? We’ve looked at ratings and check-ins but we haven’t really defined what we think perfect brews to be. We need a number that makes sense. The Heady Topper is the best beer we currently have according to the Hall Rating, and its style is an Imperial / Double IPA. The beer that really started the Imperial movement was Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA, so a perfect Hall Rating would be 90, an homage to the beer that is considered to be the flagship for Imperial IPAs.

So the perfect beer will have a hall rating of 90, with a least one thousand check-ins and an Untappd rating of 5. Currently, there aren’t any Beers with a rating of 5, the closest to that is The Heart of Darkness from B.Nektar Meadery with a rating of 4.8343 on Untappd. But this presents a problem as there a plethora of beers up for nomination currently with a Hall Rating greater than 90, what we just deemed to be a perfect score. It seems counterintuitive to say they aren’t perfect beers, as we said a rating of 90 is so. But, beers can’t be better than perfect. It’s called perfect for a reason.

We haven’t perfected the Hall Rating yet.

At its core, it’s a starting point for trying to value a beer by looking at the data provided by Untappd users. Currently we are a looking at the number of check-ins for a craft brew and then its rating related to other types of beers in that style.

One question that immediately comes to mind is the relative to style ranking. That just gives us the perfect DIPA, perfect stout, perfect porter, etc. IS there a perfect beer? After all numbers suggest there is a player who the greatest baseball player ever. Babe Ruth, followed by Hognus Wagner. After that, there are positional rankings of players throughout the history of baseball, so maybe we out to do that in addition to what we are already doing.

It seems worthwhile to hold our scaling method to the fires (a 90 hall rating in 1,000 check-ins, with a 5 rating). After, all in generating the Hall Rating for Heady Topper it’s the most disproportional number. Heady’s Untappd rating is just 2 higher than the replacement level Imperial and its check-in value is value, whereas its scale is over double that coming in at 12.274.

 So next time we need to tackle one of the cornerstones of the Hall. There is always the off chance that there isn’t anything wrong with said cornerstone, but that’s a different discussion.

 

Welcome to the Hall of Taps!

Today is the first official day of the Hall of Taps. Our goal is to determine the best craft brews objectively out there. Craft beer culture is such a cool place to mingle, over a beer you can discuss which brews you think are best. But, some prefer Stouts over IPAs or find Sours to be the best style. In the discussion, people have a subjective opinion of what they think is the best craft brew (its High Seas IPA from the now defunct Michigan Brewing Company). The more you sit and discuss craft beers, the more you realize just how many there are.

We wanted an objective way to determine the best craft beers that you can find. We found the answer in several inspirations. First, from a field in baseball called Sabermetrics, where sabermetricians use data to find the best baseball players and games using mountains and mountains of data. That’s the biggest inspiration for the Hall.

The second inspiration for the hall is a site called BeerGraphs, whom already are doing statistical analysis on craft brews. They’re doing their own analysis’s, and they seem to do the sort of thing we want to accomplish here. The discovery of BeerGraphs helped us realize that craft beer statistical analysis is possible and worthwhile.

Using mountains of data from Untappd we look for the best craft beers that people are drinking. While tons and tons of people check-in beers like PBR, how do we know that there isn’t a better beer that only a hundred people have drank? Our formula seeks to answer that question.

Our formula isn’t perfect; we’re just getting started on this journey. As we get more data, it’ll grow as well and help us better find good craft brews. We haven’t decided how many beers will go into the hall each year. But, we do know we are going to put beers there each year during American Craft Beer Week.

Once a beer is inducted into our hall of fame, we won’t change its rating. So, if Heady Topper has a hall rating of 50 when its inducted, it’s hall rating will always be that. Inside the hall, you’ll find several things that help us give a deeper analysis of different craft brews.

You’ll find a page for each specific craft beer. On this page, you’ll find where the beer is brewed along with several other items. The hall rating for that specific beer, as well as how it stacks up against the rest of the hall nominees. You’ll then find how that beer compares to other beers from its parent brewery. Also, you’ll find the ABV and IBU of the beer you’re looking at. Lastly, you’ll see a list of comparable beers in hopes you’ll find a new beer to try.

You’ll also find a brewery page, which tells you how that brewery stacks up against other breweries out there. Also, you’ll find the average IBU and average ABV for that particular brewery. You’ll also find a list of beers brewed at that brewery and their respective hall rating.

You’ll find a style page which will tell you how styles like Pale Ale American stacks up compared to other styles that we have rated. In addition, you’ll find the average IBU and ABV of each style as well as a list of beers from that style.

Lastly, you’ll find pages where you can search for beers, or for breweries. Our data is incomplete, but it grows each day and with your help we hope this can become a place to add beers, breweries and discuss beer. Each day we’ll add beers and breweries, but it’s a process. We currently have ranked over 55 thousand beers, and we hope we can discuss each and every one while providing a unique place for craft beer reviews and discussion.

Interested in the Hall of Taps? You can contact us here.