Older reviews don't always age well
A recent argument I've heard could be considered a predicament of the recent beer boom. Beers that have been around for a decade or more tend to carry more reviews than ones released more recently. This makes sense: when there was a field of 10 IPAs to choose from in your market, you were more likely to be impressed. But just like your teenage taste in movies, new experiences can make revisiting something feel less impressive (Garden State, anyone?), and it's very unlikely that your new views are being reflected in your old reviews.
On the plus side...
The reason why I won't tell anyone to up and delete their BeerAdvocate or RateBeer account is simple: if you're getting serious about beer, writing down tasting notes is the best way to remember the stuff you've tried. Both major rating sites ask you to note the appearance, aroma, and mouthfeel of your brew, which are important qualities that many drinkers leave out when compiling notes and are vital at rounding out your observations. It almost makes it like a beer LiveJournal! Except, you know, without the emo music links and dramatic emoji use (unless you're a really emotional beer reviewer, in which case, no judgment).
The sites can also tell you a lot about what's going on elsewhere in the beer world. Reviews and opinions aside, BeerAdvocate and RateBeer offer up-to-the-minute views of what's available in markets outside of your own. It's not uncommon for new beers to show up within minutes of their release. This is great if you're planning a trip across the country and want to set a mini bucket list for tasting new beers.
Despite all of this, it's very unlikely that anything will change in the way we review beers (or cars or movies or anything) online. Being part of an opinionated age can be overwhelming and frustrating, but if you choose to look at the bright side, it at least shows that the public feels very passionately about beer in a way that has never been felt in this country. And a high score often matters most to the brewers, who should be proud of earning a high score on a product they've devoted their time to perfecting in an industry that doesn't exactly crank out millionaires. Especially if they're making rauchbier and have the nerve to serve it to IPA-exclusive drinkers.
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Zach Mack is Thrillist's contributing beer writer, the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in NYC, a newly minted Certified Cicerone®, and nothing else. Follow him: @zmack.