As a small brewery, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest trends in the beer industry. One way to do this is by analyzing reviews from websites like BeerAdvocate and RateBeers, where beer enthusiasts share their thoughts on different types of beers. Our brewery is curious to know what makes a beer trendy at a certain period of the year and if it will be trendy the following years. In particular, we are interested in finding out which types of beers would be best suited for a winter beer release and more specifically for a Christmas beer release. We would also like to understand what goes into making such a beer: what are the most desired features and typical characteristics of a winter beer?

Our approach can be separated in three parts that we will explore sequentially during this data-story. Firstly, we seek to find seasonal beers by analyzing the temporal density of the reviews. Then we assess which beers are positively reviewed. Moreover we focus on deconstructing the reviews to grasp the key characteristics, such as flavour or color. Finally, we examine what positive attributes each characteristic has, e.g. a nutty attribute for the flavor characteristic. After all these steps, we could find what makes the best data-driven Christmas beer.

Which beers are seasonal ?

The first step to grasping what makes a good christmas beer is to actually find some christmas beers. As a starting hypothesis, we assumed that the temporal density of reviews of a beer is a good proxy for it’s popularity: a beer that is reviewed a lot around Christmas and nearly not during summer is considered to be a Christmas beer. Based on this, beers were grouped by their type (IPA, Stout, Belgian …) and the reviews of each day were counted. By simply plotting this through time, we can’t extract much meaningful information.

However, in the optic of reducing the effect of the yearly increase in popularity, we can sum the reviews per day of the year over it’s whole lifespan. With this we start to observe a trend that is exhibited for some beers such as stouts. They are more popular in march because of St. Patrick’s day. Still it is quite challenging to uncover quantitative information from these values.

In order to really select the beer that were the most seasonal, we gave the seasonality a rating. By decomposing the review count per day, we could isolate the trend of the beer, it’s seasonality score and how much our model was off. Through this analysis, some beer types were found to display strong seasonal trendiness. The Irish Stout is a great example. We expect it to be mainly consumed around St. Patrick’s day (17 March).