The BeerTheEast.com Classification System is provided so that brewfans unfamiliar with a particular brewery will have a better understanding of, and clearer expectations prior to visiting or purchasing. It provides an unbiased point of reference and comparison of the best breweries; every brewery ranked in any of the classifications should be considered superior among its peers.
Methodology is explained below the Classifications.
Here are the classes:
Classification I — These are the top breweries that have an impact on the industry and set the standard for a given style. To remain in this classification, product quality must match their reputation and meet highest expectations.
Petit Classification — Brewpubs or smaller breweries that have little or no impact outside their immediate local trading area. Generally these can be counted on for fresh, excellent quality products, usually equivalent to the better breweries.
Historic Basis for the Classification System
The BTE Classification System is a tip of the glass to French Emperor Napoleon III, who ordered a similar rating system for the Bordeaux wines to be displayed at the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris. Brokers from the wine industry ranked the wines, and visitors from around the world had a simple reference to make informed purchase decisions at the Exposition. Despite some changes and criticism, Les Grands Crus classés en 1855 has served as the benchmark for the best Bordeaux wines ever since.
Much like the 1855 original, the classifications of northeast US breweries result from a formula that is based on readily available data. Then as now, the core forces driving that data are derived from professional and consumer preferences. Reputation, influence, and in some cases “intangibles” are also factored in the calculation, but to a lesser extent.
A Holistic Approach
The classifications are a reflection of the top northeastern breweries overall. A brewery that produces one incredible ale and twenty duds is not classified by their one good offering. It does get more weight in the calculation, as does a given brewery’s most popular beer style. Breweries that consistently make better beer across the board score the highest. Additionally, consistently superior breweries that are willing to push the envelope are not penalized for the occasional experimental failure.
Your opinions may vary.