Best Beer in the World? Says Who?
Posted on 6/14/2012 by Chops
I came across this news article on the Huffington Post not too long ago. Apparently Beer Advocate has named Russian River Brewing Company's Pliny the Younger as the best beer in the world. World-class yes, but best beer in the world? The article below highlights a very big gripe I have with the more snobbish side of better beer.

Let me put it like this: I understand why Yo-Yo Ma is the best cellist in the world. He possesses a skill unlike anyone else on the planet. I understand why Lionel Messi is the best footballer in the world. He possesses a skill unlike anyone else on the planet. More to the point, they possess things that are actually measurable.

On the other hand, when you take something as subjective as taste and apply a ranking to it, the term "best" loses its meaning. Sure, Pliny the Younger is a world-class beer and it deserves to be recognized. But, once you reach that world-class ranking, the playing field has been leveled. Why would a world-class IPA trump a world-class Belgian, a world-class Doppelbock, or even other world-class IPAs? What specifically about this one beer makes it better than all the rest? The answer is, of course, nothing. And even if you factored in aspects like artistry, history or complexity, I seriously doubt that an IPA wouldn't even make the short list.

Before inciting a fierce debate, I should take a moment to clarify the difference between "better" and "best". Beers can certainly be better than others. There is a measurable difference in quality. A poorly made beer is not better than a well made beer. You might prefer the taste of one over the other, but the quality discrepancy does not change. To say a poor quality beer is the best in the world is a factually incorrect statement. But to say any given world-class beer is the best in the world doesn't really mean anything.

I think when all is said and done, this is just a matter of improper language. I wouldn't have even batted an eye if the title had read something like "Beer Advocate's Favorite Beer in the World" or "One of the Best Beers in the World". But I digress.

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