Ideas On How To Review Stuff

One of the things I want to do on this blog is post beer reviews.  As such, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to review beer and make it interesting to the reader and to me the writer.  I began to think, “What is the point of a review?”  Basically, it is whether or not to recommend something to another person.  This goes for any discipline:  television, movies, books, music, theatre, visual arts, food, beer.

There are three things a review must do:  1)What is the thing being reviewed trying to be; 2)Is the thing being reviewed successful at what it is trying to be; 3)Do you as a reviewer like it, why or why not and do you recommend it.

What is the thing being reviewed trying to be?

What genre or style is this work trying to be?  Is it trying to adhere to only one genre or style or trying to be a hybrid?  Genres and styles the reviewer to orient his/herself.  It makes it easier to discern what parameters the person who created this object is obeying or trying to cross.  Is it an India Pale Ale or is it a Belgian-style Golden Ale or is it trying to be some combination?

Is the thing being reviewed successful at what it is trying to be?

One of Roger Ebert’s rules of reviewing was, only review the movie you were seeing.  Don’t allow your preconceived notions to affect the movie you are actually seeing.  If the movie is only trying to be a big silly comedy, review its success at being a big silly comedy not as an existential family drama.  The great thing about beer is that the brewers will usually tell you what they are trying to do either on the bottle or on their website.  If a West Coast brewer is trying to make a malt forward English-style pale ale with West Coast hops, he will let you know.  Then the reviewer must decide was a he successful at creating a English pale ale or in blending two styles, not whether this is as good as his last hop forward West Coast pale ale.

Do you like it, why or why not?  Would you recommend it?

This is the core of what the reviewer is trying to do, explain whether this was a waste of his/her time and should you try it.  This is where beer and art objects are a little different.  If a movie tries to be a big silly comedy and is successful at it, it is usually worth watching.  If a beer tries to be a big barley wine and is successful at being a big barley wine, the reviewer could still not like it but still recommend it.  There are many beers I’ve had that I think were successful at what they are trying to be that didn’t fit my pallet, but I would still recommend it because they might fit someone else’s pallet.  In this part of the review the reviewer is also trying to capture whatever feeling experienced in the first moments with the object being reviewed.  It is the attempt to make the reader feel and understand the joy, disappointment, or outrage of the first blush.

The first reviews should go up over the next two days.


One Response to “Ideas On How To Review Stuff”

  1. […] Here is Part 1.  I didn’t know it was going to be a part 1 until I started writing this morning.  Sometimes I think I really should come up with a plan for what I write. […]

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