Cultural/Country biases on beer ratings?

Yesterday I came across an interesting article, which I would like to share. The research made by the writer on UT can be easily translated for RB.

I’ve noticed that most Europeans will not be as “generous” in rating a beer than most Americans. By this I mean on a 5 point scale you will not see too many Europeans giving a beer a 4.0+ rating when compared to Americans. In general a beer with a 4.0+ rating is on the “exceptional end” especially when you are rated 4.1+.

Some have suggested that the European educational system is more stringent in giving “top scores” so culturally Europeans are raised to be more critical in giving out ratings and thus not as generous than the average American. Also, culturally, nothing is deemed “perfect” by society so the top score or ranking is rarely given.

As I do not have access to Untappd’s raw data, I am taking an educated guess is postulating that breweries with a mainly European ratings base would probably have about 0.3 to 0.4 higher ratings than what their current rating reflects. For example, if a Dutch brewery has a 3.6 rating and adjusting for this bias they would really be a 3.9 to 4.0 from a US perspective. Conversely, for US breweries if reviewed from a European perspective, you would deduct 0.3 to 0.4, so a US brewery that is a 3.8 would be 3.4 to 3.5 on an European scale.

Here only 8 out of 50 top beers are from Europe, four of them being lambic/gueuze.

Do really only Stormarktporter, Westly XII, Rochefort 10 and Stille Nacht deserve this high recognition on RB? Is Orval only worth a 3.99? Witzgall Landbier only 3.84? St.Peter’s Cream Stout a 3.62 only?


On the FB post promoting that article, this valid example has been given to support the claim.

An interesting example of country rating bias my Quebec import partner noticed in Untappd. Dugges/Stillwater produce the same exact beer, but its called two different names due to trademark rights in Europe & the US.

Tropic Thunder which is sold in Europe has an Untappd 3.75 & the same beer sold in the US under the name Tropic Punch Ale is 4.22. These are the EXACT same beers, just different names & sold to different markets. This is a 0.46 rating difference which is statistically significant and shows there is cultural/reviewer bias on Untappd and how it can positively or negatively effect a beers ratings based on if it has more American raters. This is a pattern I’ve noticed where many top international beers which do not get many American reviewers/raters tend to have much lower ratings than international beers that do get many American raters.

Tropic Thunder by Dugges Bryggeri is a Sour - Fruited which has a rating of 3.8 out of 5…/1430596

Tropic Punch Ale by Dugges Bryggeri is a Sour - Fruited which has a rating of 4.2 out of 5

Here on Ratebeer

Dugges / Stillwater Tropic Thunder 3.74

Dugges / Stillwater Tropic Punch Ale 3.83

Not a significant difference, still the US version has an higher score

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It is really interesting. I certainly had the impression beers get rated higher in the US, but I could not say if it was due to cultural differences or simply because more extreme beers get brewed in the US - probably a bit of both.

The two Dugges / Stillwater ought to get aliassed.

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Same @ Ayinger Oktoberfestbier and Ayinger Kirta. In my opinion, Kirta is the best Märzen in the world, and Oktoberfest is just a bit above average. Yet Oktoberfest is rated higher than Kirta. I guess good Märzen is not too common in the US.

Beer raters are biased towards better beer, and American brewers brew better beer.

you might be showing some bias here :wink:

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No, many breweries should do this so we can start to answer the question!

My guess is that there are a number of biases - Americans rating everything high; a bias to the new; a bias to the strong; and a price/ freshness penalty Americans impose against expensive and old European beer.

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Hard to say really without some advanced data. This calls for miserable nations index. One thing I know is that users here refuse to use whole rating scale, this goes for both US and International users.

Is Orval only worth a 3.99?


St.Peter’s Cream Stout a 3.62 only?

That’s a bit high.

I have been preaching this for the last year to friends based on my experience from living in Europe for the last 1.5 years. This is completely anecdotal, but I am very confident in my opinion over a few thousand beers between the two markets.

Just to add to the discussion I would like to separate the trend into two subcategories: (1) traditional european styles (pils, anything german, anything belgian etc) and (2) more modern American styles.

The Europeans rate their European styles VERY low even though they are often amazing beers, especially lighter lagers like pils and helles. This is probably just because that is what they have been raised on and to them it is the “same old boring stuff”, whereas for us westerners it is rare to find amazing German style lagers (in my experience American breweries almost always butcher these styles or are just outright out of style and usually overhopped). Yet German styles are rated higher in the US despite being significantly worse.

Now for modern “craft beer” styles, they are better brewed in North America without a doubt. It is rare to find a good craft brewery in Europe (most are in Poland, Netherlands, Estonia… more non-traditional beer markets). Craft beer in Germany is sub-par. Now back to the original post, these styles are indeed rated lower in Europe, but I think the quality generally reflects that as well.

As an aside, Untappd BREWERY ratings are more a function of what styles they brew rather than the beer quality. More IPA, sour, and imperial stouts = higher rating… which is of course ridiculous.

Of course it’s not. Inferior beer styles should be rated lower.

I just rated a US beer which the previous US rater described as ‘quite good’. So for me that would be no more than 3.5. Scored 3.9.

One this I spotted myself recently was Danish raters presumably working on the basis that 2.5 + is better than average. Where as I’d go with 3.0 to 3.2.

Izonogud, I suppose there are two ways to rate. (1) By personal preference, in which case I agree with you, and this is how much of the public does it as well, hence why we see these styles rated so much higher.

However, every serious beer judge would disagree with you. (2) A BJCP judge (for example) should rate a beer out of 50 based on the style guidelines. You may enjoy a 33 point stout more than a 43 point helles, but the latter is objectively a better brewed beer.

This is why I encourage people to look closer at Untappd brewery ratings because they basically just measure style output and not quality output.

That is, any mediocre homebrewer can mask off flavors in a big stout, but it takes care to make a great cream ale.

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I’m well aware of that and was trolling you a bit. However according to BJCP one would rate Bud Light highly because according to the guideline it’s a good commercial example of American Light Lager. IMHO BJCP is great for homebrewers who are trying to master technical skills and are learning to use them in a proper way. For us who are trying beers out there in the wild not so much. When rating my score should reflect the answer to question - would I have that beer again?

Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate a good lager (I admit it did take a long time), but I don’t refer to it as inferior just because of its subtilty and lack of strong flavors. In my opinion such styles should be enjoyed as fresh as possible and are not made for shelves. Same goes for English bitters, golden ales, low abv stouts etc. where enjoying them in great condition on cask is rather different than drinking a bottle from supermarket.


I think that classical styles like the big subgroup of lagers are totally underrated. I’m 42, I was raised with such beers and I still like them a lot. Here people tend to rate styles higher which don’t even taste like beer.
As example: I’m always confused to see that the Totenhopfen beers are rated to be the best of my homecountry, even if most of their “beers” taste like fruit infusions with alcohol (and they’re not even brewed here).
Another thing that boggles my mind is that the top 50 beers on RB all have an ABV of at least 10%.

But don’t get me wrong, I also like styles like Belgian ales, stouts, IPAs… because they still give me that beery feeling.

After my experience here in Europe craft beers are good from countries where industrial beer is rather bad, like France and the Netherlands for instance. On the other hand in countries where industrial, traditional beer is good or even excellent, like in Germany and Belgium, the new craft beers are rather amateurish.
(But of course there are exceptions.)

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I actually count at least 11 beers within the top 50 that have less than 10% abv.

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That shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s presumably all barrel aged flavoured Impy Stouts, etc. I.e the most fashionable and hyped.

You’re right, I didn’t watch well.
But still, the ones with at least 10% ABV are overrepresented.

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We are (as usual) drifting away from the notion of bias towards the idea that other people’s tastes are wrong. That’s not where we started.

I agree with the original premise: Though I don’t follow many non-U.S. UT raters, most American UT users I know seem to think 3.5 is average. I’ve seen people describe a beer as “average” or “meh” and give it a 3.5 to 3.75 rating there. It’s a pet peeve of mine as an average beer on a five-point scale should be a full point lower. I think people are afraid of ‘dissing’ brewers by rating too low.

The notable exception for many raters seemed to be lighter/low-flavor styles, where people give them undeservedly poor scores because they are rating for personal preference rather than any objective criteria (i.e., BJCP style guidelines). To be fair, there are people who hate sour, hoppy and/or BA brews who do the same thing, but there seem to be fewer of those people… Regardless, this practice renders their ratings useless to anyone who doesn’t know their likes/dislikes and muddies up the global average.