Saturday, March 9, 2013

:: untappd beer app ::

Besides the OnTheBar app for mobile phones, the next most useful drink-associated app I have found has been the Untappd beer one. I believe that I first learned of it through a friend's tweet announcing a beer he drank, and I decided to download the app and give it a shot -- especially since there is very little risk in trying out a free application. Here is my impression after trying it out for 6 weeks.

I have really only used some of the features on Untappd and will mention the others that perhaps some of you will find useful too. In essence, you can enter beers, rate them zero to five stars (with half star increments), make tasting notes, and enter a location (if away from home base) for your own personal drink diary. The information can also be accessed in a feed (see below) such that you can see what and where you and your friends have been drinking and whether there is a beer or bar that you should make note of. The app allows you to find friends through Facebook, Twitter, and FourSquare contacts as well as entering in people's names; moreover, you can search your friends' friends lists for others that you might have missed. One downside of logging in with your personal accounts is that the app tries to push notifications and announcements to your feed; after my first badge got posted on to Twitter, I learned how to turn off these notifications so it is no longer an issue. Others will probably love the automatic posting and boasting ability, but I prefer my Twitter feed to be less encumbered. Thanks to the Droid operating system being difficult, I was unable to take a screen shot, so I took one on the web version. The web version looks slightly different such as lacking the star rating values when displayed like this as a feed:
untappd beer app
Other useful features include BeerAdvocate-like notes about the beer for some of the beers, whereas others, such as more rare ones that were user entered, lack details. This includes proof, IBU, style, and tasting notes. It certainly does not replace BeerAdvocate or RateBeer, but the extra information can certainly be useful in making a pick. The app also has a badge system to reward you for your drinking; there are badges for trying certain beer styles, going to different venues, and the like. Beers at home as well as beers away are both welcome. And the app is great for taking notes during tastings and reviewing them later to figure out later what was notable and worth revisiting. The app also allows the integration of photos and I have used this on occasion (although only when the beer is in a photo-worthy situation), and it allows for commenting on each others' brew choices.

Functionalities that I do not use are a mapping system to locate your drinking buddies as well as nearby beers, bars, and breweries. Perhaps I am more old fashioned in my approach to drinking such that I do not think in these terms, but the bar locator might be perfect for me when traveling. The app also will relay trending beers with choices for macro- and microbrews; while knowing that Guinness and Bud are popular isn't that interesting, knowing that Stone's Enjoy By 04.01.13 IPA and Tröegs's Nugget Nectar are both out now and popular can be.

Overall, the app has been quite handy in tracking my and my associates' beer drinking. I also have learned to appreciate the badge system; at first, I found it silly and unnecessary, but I began to enjoy checking in a beer at a bowling alley, a beer from a foreign country, or another IPA to further progress on certain badges. Anything that reminds you to change up your routines and explore is good in my book. The app also points out how unusual a beer is by how many people have checked in; while Heady Topper is much sought after, I was #24,000-or-so to have check in with that, but I would be the 46th person to check in with Abita's Zach's Special Bitter; therefore, I knew it was more rare and special before I ordered it. Moreover, I was able to complement the bar manager, Jamie from Stoddard's, for yet again being able to score such an unusual beer.

For more information, look here. Or download the app through iTunes or GooglePlay.

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