With the 2017 season of Major League Baseball (AC-After Cubs) underway, it got me to thinking about a relatively new stat that is used by the tech savvy clubs. WAR. Wins Above Replacement. As Wikipedia defines it, “is a non-standardized sabermetric baseball statistic developed to sum up “a player’s total contributions to his team”. A player’s WAR value is claimed to be the number of additional wins his team has achieved above the number of expected team wins if that player were substituted by a replacement-level player: a player that may be added to the team for minimal cost and effort.”
Those last four words caught my attention. Minimal cost and effort. What if craft beer could have a WAR rating? Could you create a “replacement” IPA score from scores on Untappd, RateBeer or Beer Advocate and compare it to a current “score” for that rare barrel-aged beer? Then could you create an availibility and time spent score to subtract to see if driving an hour for a beer that may be tapped out or costs twice as much if you can even get your grubby hands on it?
The million dollar question, is would it matter? Would craft beer customers be like old time baseball scouts and rely on their gut and emotion as opposed to points of data? Or would the fact that a beer is rare be the only thing that matters?
But let’s try a primitive example of what I call BAR – Beer Above Replacement. I am no mathmetician so bear with the crude equations.
Part 1 – RateBeer Score + BeerAdvocate Score + Untapp’d Stars
Part 2 – Availability (5 for Easy to 1 for Whale)
To elaborate – if it can be found on the shelf of multiple good beer shops then 5, if it is a limited release at only the brewery then 1
Part 3 – Price (5 for Reasonable to 1 for Gouged)
To elaborate (again) I did not put actual dollar amounts because a $10 bottle of a barrel-aged blend is reasonable whereas $20 for a 4-pack of IPA might not be)
Part 4 – Time to Acquire (5 for requires short car ride to 1 for plane ride)
Part 5 – Cool Factor (3 for impressive to 1 for no street cred)
Add all (5) parts for your score. You can then compare beers. Or you can create a composite. Such as the ever popular IPA’s. Add in a national IPA, a few locals, some out-of-state options and try to get at least 10 to create a sturdy, though small, sample size. There is obvious fudging factors in Parts 2-5 but they are all dependent on where a person lives and the prices in their area.
Let’s do a quick look at Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA as an example:
Untapp’d 3.76 – adjusted to 10 point scale: 7.52
RateBeer 97 – adjusted to 10 point scale 9.70
Beer Advocate 92 – adjusted to 10 point scale 9.20
Rating TOTAL = 26.42
Availability – 4 (can be found everywhere but some places might have really old stock)
Price – 5 (six-packs can be found for under $10)
Time – 4 (again dinged to aged stock problems)
Cool – 1 (Sierra Nevada should get a point at least)
Adjustment TOTAL = 14.00
GRAND TOTAL = 40.42
Now let’s take Foggy Window from Monkish Brewing as a comparison (yes, I know it was a one time beer, it is merely a template for a style that is being talked up everywhere)
Untapp’d 4.498 – adjusted to 10 point scale 9.00
RateBeer 98 – adjusted 10 point scale 9.80
Beer Advocate 94 – adjusted to 10 point scale 9.40
Rating TOTAL = 28.20
Availbility – 1 (only at taproom on specified day)
Price –2 ($20+ for a four-pack)
Time – 1 (gotta drive to Torrance and wait in line)
Cool – 3 (Hazy is the IT beer)
Adjustment TOTAL = 7
GRAND TOTAL = 35.20
The goal is for the quality scores to be the main driver with Parts 2-4 be where the possible replacement would make up ground if it was not as good but had better pricing and availability. Part 5 factors in the fact (that I dispute) that coolness counts.
In this one test, with two beers picked off the top of my head without looking at their ratings shows that old school / boring Torpedo is the better pick. It barely loses in the ratings and even losing the cool battle doesn’t stop it from racking up a score higher by 5 points.
As I say, I won’t tell you what to drink but I do try to give tools to better navigate the crowded beer shelves at your local store. So buy what you want, just know that you have many alternatives.