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Sierra Nevada, States, and American Pale Ale Scores

Eno Sarris, May 20, 2014 -   

We looked at Sierra Nevada Pale Ale's scores across the states last week, and one of the reasons we postulated for the difference was that some states had better options than Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and so they ranked the beer lower because of regional social comparison.

Well, we have the scores for all American Pale Ales in each state. So let's compare.

State AveSNPA Score AveAPA Diff
NM 3.836 3.151 0.685
SD 3.957 3.402 0.555
UT 3.608 3.172 0.435
HI 3.667 3.252 0.414
ME 3.627 3.250 0.377
VA 3.482 3.142 0.340
CT 3.595 3.309 0.286
LA 3.420 3.138 0.281
NC 3.455 3.195 0.260
AK 3.632 3.378 0.254
MN 3.556 3.312 0.245
KY 3.541 3.298 0.242
NV 3.577 3.346 0.231
PA 3.422 3.194 0.228
CA 3.446 3.229 0.217
OK 3.373 3.160 0.213
TN 3.454 3.249 0.205
FL 3.340 3.175 0.165
DC 3.240 3.082 0.158
SC 3.387 3.236 0.151
RI 3.305 3.156 0.148
NY 3.206 3.066 0.140
CO 3.285 3.156 0.129
TX 3.359 3.231 0.127
MA 3.334 3.211 0.123
MI 3.340 3.234 0.105
GA 3.376 3.276 0.101
MD 3.319 3.236 0.084
OH 3.435 3.355 0.079
AZ 3.333 3.258 0.075
NJ 3.334 3.262 0.072
WV 3.458 3.389 0.069
NE 3.238 3.182 0.056
DE 3.244 3.193 0.051
WA 3.281 3.273 0.007
MS 3.211 3.223 -0.012
AL 3.256 3.269 -0.013
IL 3.395 3.425 -0.030
KS 3.252 3.292 -0.040
WI 3.424 3.491 -0.066
OR 3.177 3.253 -0.076
IN 3.592 3.669 -0.077
NH 3.101 3.180 -0.079
AR 3.077 3.159 -0.082
MO 3.094 3.207 -0.114
ID 3.000 3.187 -0.187
MT 2.981 3.228 -0.247
IA 3.122 3.424 -0.302
ND 3.000 3.474 -0.474
VT 2.758 3.510 -0.752

It's largely the same list. Vermont, Montana, and Idaho are near the bottom, like they were. Hawaii moves down one spot, but five of the top six are the same states. 

Indiana is in an interesting spot, however. It rated Sierra's pale Ale well, but it rated all pale ales well. What to do with that sort of result? You can see the same in reverse at the top -- Virginia gave Sierra a middling score (lower than Indiana's), but it gave all pale ales a lower score, so it looks like they like Sierra more in comparison.

This seems like a more robust score to use, but maybe it's just fool's gold. By putting Sierra back in context of all pale ales, we're bringing back in the problem we sought to avoid: the state of competition in each state. Sierra is not the same beer in comparison, it's the same beer by definition.

No beer is without context -- you're drinking it a bar with a certain list, or you bought it at a store with a certain range of offerings. There's also the context of your unique palate, though. And if we start bringing in these average pale ale ratings, we're confusing these different  contexts, maybe.

Return to Indiana. This is the region that boasts Zombie Dust, Alpha King, and Daisy Cutter. They do not lack in great pale ales. And yet they rate Sierra Nevada higher than Virginia, where the list of best APAs is a largely anonymous list. How can we say that this relative ranking is better than just saying -- SNPA does well in Indiana? And yet, if we use Indiana's high ranking of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to 'downgrade' APA ratings coming from that state, we'll needlessly bring down some great pale ales.

It seems this newest look at the numbers has only muddied the water.

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