The next time you’re drinking with a beer geek, order a strong ale.
Stanford University computer science post-doc Julian McAuley and assistant professor Jure Leskovec released a paper earlier this year outlining how our tastes change as we consume more products and gain more expertise.
They developed a model to help them separate the “expert” users from the “beginners” on a review website. Briefly, it takes into account the number of reviews a user has written, and how the user’s ratings have evolved compared to the rest of the “expert” community (those who have written more than 50 reviews).
They then tested it on beer-rating website RateBeer, which has over three million beer reviews.
The figure above shows the relationship between user experience and beer preference. McAuley and Leskovec broke down the beers into lagers, mild ales, and strong ales, and then calculated each beer’s individual ranking by experience level.
The x-axis shows the average rating of products on the site (out of 5 stars), while the y-axis shows the difference between expert and novice ratings.
According to their study, while beginners and experts have similar top beers, experts tend to have stronger opinions than novice users. They explain in the study:
While a lager such as Bud Light is disliked by everybody, it is most disliked by experts; one of the most popular beers in the entire corpus, Firestone XV, is liked by everybody, but is most liked by experts.
They also found that more-experienced users gave higher ratings to almost all strong ales, illustrating that these types of beer are more of an acquired taste than traditional lagers.
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