In my opinion, its part of the craft "backlash" against macro beer. The basic 3 ways you can go away from BMC is to be hoppier (IPA) Darker (Stout) and more ABV (Imperial). When a large part of the market is younger people who want to differentiate themselves from "the pack" or be rebels, they want to drink something that is as far away from "normal beer" as possible. This sets up the push for big IIPAs and RISs. I think as craft beer is getting more steam, and filling up more taps in more restaurants, there is more of a push for balance and drinkability. I have noticed that when I go out to a restaurant with a good taplist, there is always 3-4 IPAs, but there are a lot of browns, saisons, and other lighter, more food friendly beers available.
Secondly, when you look at RateBeer or BeerAdvocate, you see rarer beers get better ratings. Worthy Brewing makes a great Koelsch that is 4%, and if I am not careful, I can drink a sixer of it in one day. It will never rate highly, because I can pick it up at the local grocery store. The "top beers in america" are always the ones where the hype outpaces the flavor.
so many bourbon-dominated "beers" and so many hop bombs and so many sours. Mmm, can you taste the rare?
I used to need bigger and bigger flavors to get excited too. Just like I needed hotter and hotter peppers/food to call it "spicy." But eventually I started to see nuance, balance, delicate characters. Instead of writing "tastes watery"
for everything that isn't extreme I started seeing the skill in some hand-crafted creations that were anything but blunt instruments for one ingredient or process.
I take the ratings with a grain of salt (and a little coriander and lacto and pilsner and wheat). A combination of the "per style" rating from RB along with the thoughts of some BA revewiers I've come to trust is going to get much more attention from me than the total score from either site.