Bill’s Brewery Scoring Criteria

Welcome to my brewery scoring criteria. I love to travel and everywhere I go, I ask the same question – what’s the best local beer? I have been to breweries all over the world and tasted beer from almost every continent. I still wouldn’t call myself an expert, I’m just a guy who likes beer and I like to drink it in certain environments over others.

Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard, NC

Anyway, since I spend so much time exploring new breweries, I decided that I needed a system to keep track of them all. That’s why I developed this scoring criteria. I grade each brewery on three criteria: beer quality and taste, ambiance and food (if applicable). Keep in mind that I am basing these scores on my own personal palate and the things that I enjoy in a brewery. So here is some insight as to why I score the way I do:

Beer taste and quality: I am a big fan of IPA’s, especially hazy IPA’s. I really like hop-forward beers with an ABV sweet spot of 6-7%. I also really like a crisp pale ale, hoppy red ales, dark lagers and my newest obsession is smoky beers. I do enjoy stouts, but I do not drink them regularly. I do not like anything that is too fruity or too sweet. I also do not like sour beers AT ALL. However, sour beers are extremely trendy right now, so I will try them if they are recommended to me. I talk to a bartender at every single brewery I go to and ask them which beers I have to try. I usually order a flight to try multiple beers and if I’m told a sour is the most popular then I will give it a shot.

Here is a list of some of my favorite mainstream beers so you can get an idea of whether or not my taste is similar to your own:

The scoring goes from 0-5. I try to give an immediate rating, so scores are usually based on my first impression after trying the beers. The breakdown is as follows:

Ambiance: Just so you get a feeling of what I enjoy in a brewery environment so you know how to interpret my scores, I’ll give you some background. I do not like big crowds. I’m not a fan of standing in line and pushing my way up to a bar to get a drink. I like a lot of space with room for a group of people to enjoy a few drinks and good conversation. Even the types of glasses or flight containers can affect ambiance score.

Benelux Brewpub and Café – Downtown Montréal, Canada

I do love live music at a brewery or bar, but there also has to be an area to escape from it. I don’t like when you’re forced to hear the music that happens to be playing whether it’s live or a playlist on the speakers because I like to discuss the beers with the people I’m traveling with. Music is important though, it really sets the tone for the beer drinking experience. Typically blues, retro rock and reggae establish the best vibes in my opinion.

Also consider the fact that I am a father with a one-year-old daughter, so that also impacts my ambiance scoring. For me, I appreciate a space that has toys/games and areas for kids to run around and be entertained. Plenty of room to push a stroller around is greatly appreciated as well.

The scoring for ambiance also goes from 0-5 and the scores are determined as follows:

Food: This is an important category. I think it’s crucial for a brewery to consider food options because eventually everyone needs to eat. You can’t just drink beer all day… well, you can, but you probably shouldn’t.

Sierra Nevada Brewery in Mills River, NC

A brewery doesn’t have to have a kitchen with a five-star chef, a food truck is a perfectly acceptable option in my book or even being next door to a deli or restaurant that has takeout you can bring into the brewery is a great feature.

You guessed it – food is also ranked on a 0-5 scale and here’s the breakdown:

So that’s it. A very simple scoring system that helps me determine if I would ever drink beer from a brewery again or go back to enjoy a pint, flight or meal. I hope this helps you understand my mindset when I write beer blogs and rank breweries. Feel free to bookmark this blog as a reference in the future.



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