People who write "Keg;" instead of the commercial description of the beer

Why? And what’s the semi-colon for? Genuinely curious…

I ask this because maybe I’m missing something but 9 times out of 10 when I see it done it’s not even accurate, people don’t seem to take into account the other formats that are often released shortly after, bottle/can obviously being the most common ones, but sometimes even cask as well is missing.

Reading through ratings of pretty much any beer I see that 99% of us write the format of the beer at the start of our ratings which is good. Also, for beers where distinguishing between keg/cask/bottle/can is actually relevant we already have separate entries for them. I’d argue that where we have a single entry (almost all beers these days) it’s completely irrelevant to list all the formats. I’d much rather see the actual description there, or simply leave it blank if the brewer did not release one. Commercial description isn’t even a searchable field so it’s not like we can filter down results by dispense.

So yeah I’m wondering what is (or was) the intention behind this “Keg;” thing in descriptions? It’s used so inconsistently and I feel like it’s too big of a task for admins to keep up with maintaining accuracy of it and there’s far more important things they should be doing with the time they put in here. At best it’s irrelevant and at worst it spreads misinformation.

And finally, Ratebeer already shows distribution places and formats. You add this after you rate a beer, you can select bottle/can or cask/keg and it shows on the map as such. Plus, even normal members can edit/add to this to correct anything so it’s one less job for admins to do.


P.S. sorry if this comes off as a rant/complaint but some of the practices on this site continue to baffle me, I’m interested to hear the idea behind this one.

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I think it’s a UK admin or admins who do that when there is little or no commercial description. Plus it helps identify a beer separately from cask.

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I know it’s appeared after i’ve beers added beers when there has been no description available, so assume it system or admin generated.

This, I think, dates back to the early days of splitting UK beers - usually between cask/bottle conditioned & pasteurised keg/bottle. A decision had to be made for each UK beer already in the database on whether it should be split. That took some research and, often, still does although bottled/canned versions are more likely to be just filtered than filtered and pasteurised these days (so no split). Putting in the cask/keg/bottle/can format acted as an aide memoire to admins that the beer in question had been actively considered (often by a different admin) and assisted raters in knowing whether a new entry might be required. Where there are two separate entries for the pasteurised/unpasteurised versions that is usually signified in the name, simply to avoid duplicated names. Where a beer is not split, the format is not refelected in the name. So, if it says, for instance “cask, keg, can & bottle” that makes it clear there’s only a single entry for the beer. The semi-colon was there because it was invariably followed by the “seasonal”/production status, for which the options available when adding a beer are particularly unfit for purpose. So you might have seen something like “Cask & bottle conditioned; Seasonal - May to September” or something like that. Most common is “status uncertain”, which would come under the same “not a seasonal” category as regular core beers and those made occasionally but to no specific timetable.

Although entitled “commercial description”, that field has always also been used for recording other information about a beer - it may, for instance, be necessary to include something to assist in distinguishing variants of a beer - simply because there’s nowhere else to put it. Of course, with the huge increase in the number of beers, keeping everything under review is an impossibility. Whether there’s any point in including information that may become inaccurate or outdated depends on your perspective. But, if you take the view that it is pointless, that could extend to things like abv, retirement status etc, etc. as well as anything that’s been put in the commercial description.

This is true if you add distribution information through the beer page. It is not the case if you add availability through the place page. There isn’t, and never has been, an option to select the format there. So, if someone particularly conscientious decided to add availability for all the beers on offer at a particular pub when they visited, the easiest way to do so is via the place page because you can add availability for multiple beers at the same time, but you cannot specify bottle or draught that way. You’d have to go into each and every beer page to do that.

And adding availability when entering a rating is, arguably, of limited use unless it’s done live.

To be honest if I live add a beer and I can’t easily find a description I’ll bung in the format I had the beer.

Trying to copy and paste on a phone is generally a ball ache and I’d rather be enjoying the beer than pissing around with the commercial description. I do attempt to add a picture if possible


Thanks for yet another detailed response, Chris. I was sure it was a holdover from the old days of Ratebeer but was curious why it was still being done. Do people find it particularly useful?

I have to say I still view the format inclusion as somewhat pointless, yes, because those that have separate cask/keg (or pasteurised) entries already have that written in the name which is far more visible. As to the other fields, I can’t say I’ve seen examples of that included in the description in many beers, the exception being clarification when a beer’s ABV is variable, such as pretty much everything brewed by Kernel, in which case it is nice to see.

More useful things are as you mentioned; specific seasonal information, clarification on variants, alternative names in foreign markets etc. I much appreciate seeing this sort of stuff included there.

Good point about the availability when added via a place page, though if you click on the beers here tab it does include the date of when the user added the availability. As I’ve posted in other threads though I feel like the places section of Ratebeer is very neglected and in dire need of a makeover, both in terms of UI and functionality.



I don’t mind having keg/cask/bottle in the description - in fact, I often do that myself. However, people who put the semicolon in there (when it shouldn’t be) drive me up the fucking wall.

I wouldn’t use a semicolon unless there was something else following it - to make a more emphatic break between the format and seasonal information, instead of having a string of things separated by hyphens , commas or whatever.

Something like
Cask; Seasonal - May & June (Single hop range)
looks better to me than
Cask, seasonal, May & June, single hop range
or Cask - seasonal - May & June - single hop range

But I’m no grammar expert

It does, however, serve to clearly identify beers that have been checked out and only merit a single entry. Of course, as you say, it doesn’t help if all the formats are not included for one reason or another. But, from an admin perspective, it’s always better in cases of doubt for raters to make a separate entry (which may sometimes be removed as part of the verification process) than to just sling their rating under the existing one because you’ll almost inevitably end up with ratings in the wrong place that way if a separate listing does arise some time later on.

But, as I said, far fewer beers are split these days so I take your point.

Correct. But, until it becomes a more central part of the RateBeer experience and more people actually contribute place reviews, I doubt it will be a high priority.

Yes I fear the same thing. Veering slightly off-topic now but pretty much every suggestion I’ve ever made for any aspect of the site has been met with similar sentiment, i.e. being low priority. It’s such a shame because I’m struggling to see a good future for this site at the moment and I continue to wonder what exactly is being worked on that so many other things are demoted to low priority.
I’m on the verge of giving up writing up my suggestions going forward. While members of the community (and even various admins) seem to agree with some of the things I’ve said (though not all the time), joet and anyone else wielding the power to actually make changes either doesn’t see or doesn’t agree so nothing ever gets done.

Yeah, that’s what I was (eventually) getting at in a roundabout way, I could see why it was done years ago but was surprised to see it still done now on beers I know won’t be split, hence me starting this discussion.

The beer that made me think about about making this thread was one of Verdant’s new ones. As one of the highest rated UK breweries and subsequently one of the most hyped, their recent return to canning beers was met with massive hype across social media and various beer communities in the past month. Despite this, one of them has a simple “Keg;” description. Of course I mean no offence to whoever was responsible for that description, I obviously don’t expect every admin to follow every brewery and know the format every beer is released in. I just found it a particularly extreme example given the amount of hype around that can release.

Anyway it’s not a big deal, there’s good points for and against the practice. I’ll continue to submit corrections when I see things like this.

I’m afraid even admins only have the faintest view of Joe’s to-do list and the pecking order of the things on it. There’s an inevitable tension between the community-driven aspects & priorities of the site and the reality that, ultimately, it’s Joe’s site to do with as he pleases.

Having Keg, Cask or Bottle as a header can only prove of ‘some’ use to folks … surely ?

If not … scroll past … it’s not doing any harm is it ?

Eg … if it’s a cask beer you know you won’t encounter it in certain bars and vice versa if it’s keg.

Folks should also realise that it doesn’t mean exclusive to that format … eg the first time someone adds a beer if could only be on cask but could appear bottled or keg at a later point in time (I do actually update and add other formats to a beer if I come across an entry with just one listed and I’m having it via another format).


I think we agree on the bulk of the suggestions that I’ve seen you make (and I hope you keep making them; RateBeer needs to improve how it handles the feedback from dedicated users). Policing the text of ratings outside of what were already seen as violations (e.g., spam, fake ratings) seems a bit much, though. If three letters and a piece of punctuation annoys you, I worry about what you think about ratings in other languages, ratings that are written to be more humourous than factual, or ratings that are not relevant to the beer whatsoever. Not every letter that users write is going to be relevant to every individual user, and that is totally fine.

Where did I mention anything about doing this!? Read the thread title, we’re talking about commercial descriptions here, not people’s ratings.

Yeah, we all know this. I was thinking more of the implication it suggests to new users/guests using the website. To the uninitiated I think it might suggest exactly that - that it’s exclusive to that format.

Apply to become an admin if you feel passionate about it. I do try and add a commercial description if at all possible but it is difficult off a phone (and if you can find one). We’d need all brewers on board to put a nice description and a photo of each beer in a decent format to make it work.

I’d agree with @Theydon_Bois that something is better than nothing. In the mean time sending in corrections is the right thing to do.

I’m not sure how many new raters find it useful or not or just search for the beer. I quite often double check on Untappd for a description as the database has quantity over quality!

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Jesus, I read it wrong. Cool your jets, captain.

Sorry, getting a little carried away here.