Monday, June 28, 2010

When All About You Are Losing Theirs

While I was half tempted to ignore the Nihilist in Golf Pant's rather tepid "rebuttal" of my weekly beer reviews, in the interests of closure I felt the obligation to offer an ever-so-brief response. From my vantage point, the Nihilist's argument (such that it was) consisted of three main points.

First, he took a page out of the Obama handbook by setting up and then knocking down a straw man (or barley man in this case) by insinuating that I held the position that my beer ratings were somehow objective:

...the idea that rating a beer isn't a highly subjective process is not debatable.

Of course not. And no one ever claimed otherwise. Like movie, theater, musical, restaurant and book reviews, beer reviews are nothing more than the opinion (hopefully informed) of the reviewer.

Another such straw man appears later in his post:

Just don't tell me that your mathematics suggests that one is the perfect beer.

Again, he's refuting a claim that no one has ever made. And using numbers to rate various aspects of a beer's character and then adding them together for a total score hardly qualifies as "mathematics" for most people.

Next, he took the curious position that beer is so complex that we humans lack the ability to rate it on a numeric scale:

However, my main motivation is a disagreement with the idea of assigning numeric value to something as subjective as the flavor of beer.

Consider for a moment all that we do rate in such a manner. Movies, wine, restaurants, gymnastics, etc. The list of areas where we assign a subjective score using numbers is a long one. Does the Nihilist truly believe that it's okay to use numbers to evaluate something as complex and subjective as the beauty of a woman, but not a glass of beer? Quite simply absurd.

Finally, we learn more about Nihilist's true preferences:

...head is overrated.

While I think that most men would disagree with the Nihilist, he's certainly entitled to his opinion on the matter.

When it comes to beer, the head is part of the overall package. While it's not as important as the taste, it isn't inconsequential either. By the way, the scoring system that I utilize (and did not invent) does reflect that by assigning weighted values to the various characteristics of a beer.

I recently spent two weeks in Asia on business and on my return flight through Tokyo's Narita airport, I enjoyed one of Japan's greatest contributions to the world: the automatic beer pouring machine. When it comes to detail and perfecting aesthetics, the Japanese are world class. And their beer dispensing machine recognizes the importance of the beer's head by first tilting the glass to dispense a set amount of beer and then bringing the glass upright to add the perfect amount of foam to create a head that completes the beautiful picture. To the Japanese and real beer lovers everywhere, head does matter.