Thanks very much to our writers Michael Donato and Ben Sammis for poking Style+ and making it better. Also, thanks to Matt Dennewitz for doggedly pushing until the implementation took.
And thanks to Style+, we can now find new beers that don't have great distribution but are still great beers. Same for great breweries. Let's crack up the leaderboards and drink up the new beers that fizz to the top.
If you filter the brewery leaderboards for only breweries that have a combined 30 BAR or better -- in other words, breweries of some size -- and then sort for the highest Solid%, you'll find the breweries that have only made above-average beers so far in their existence. For those that wonder about beers north of the boarder, there are two Canadian breweries that top this particular board: Half Pints in Winnipeg and Four Winds in British Columbia. Not bad, eh? Then there are the no-doubt American breweries that you've all heard of -- Hill Farmstead, Toppling Goliath, Anchorage, and Trillium.
But also on the list are a few breweries that might count as diamonds in the rough. Tree House in Massachussetts, and Burnt Hickory in Georgia and Peticolas in Dallas... Maybe you've heard of one of these, maybe you've heard of all three, but most likely you haven't, and you now have three new breweries that should offer you a good-to-great beer the next time you're in the area -- no matter the style.
Even the high nineties in Solid% are worthy entrants. Sante Aidairius in Capitola (near Santa Cruz), Societe and AleSmith down in San Diego, Maine Beer company (guess where), and Karbach in Texas: these beers are worth soiffing, all of them. But put me down for a taster platter if I can get to De Garde (Oregon) or Side Project (St. Louis) -- even though I know little about them other than this statistic.
Even on the beer leaderboards, you can use this to scout lesser-known beers.
I love Saisons, so I'm all over Sainte Adairius and lust after a taste of Hill Farmstead. Tired Hands and Logsdon don't surprise me at all. Side Project again. But hey now I want that Grassroots saison from Vermont. Can anyone get their hands on that?
In the DIPA category, it's hard to find hidden gems just because everyone drinks as much of the good DIPAs as they can get their hands on. I mean, take a look. Not many surprises. But there are some! And Canada again represents, with Nickel Brook Immodest from Ontario. Kern River shows up again, but maybe people know about them. On the second and third pages, you start to see some new names: Manrock Apocolyptic from Arroyo Grande, CA, Boy King from Coast in South Carolina, and though I know about Double Daisy Cutter from Half Acre in Chicago, do you?
And hell, that's only three out of 73 pages.
If everyone drinks the crap out of any good DIPA, then they'll trade you their firstborn for a good Imp Stout. But Boatrocker's Ramjet? Cycle's Nooner Batch? Omnipollo's Yellow Belly Sunday? The nature of these beers -- the barrel aging, and local releases, and limited production -- means that they may not always get the BAR scores of other beers from other styles. It just means that Style+ will be helpful in judging and finding them.
Style+ can also help compare two beers of uneven distribution levels. I love me some Mo' Nelson from Cellarmaker, but they don't distribute beyond their tap room. Deschutes' Red Chair is a very good beer that gets much wider distribution. Maybe it's better to use Cellarmaker's higher Style+ (112 to 107) to compare the two.
Or maybe you just need to try both and judge for yourself. It's all in good fun, and now you've got a better tool for the funmaking.