Just like with the rest of our lives, there are plenty of interesting apps to help enhance your beer experience. One that I use a lot is Untapped, which lets you “check in” and rate a beer that you are drinking. It’s fun to see and comment on what your friends are drinking. It has also proved to be very helpful for me to record what I am drinking for later use, especially when writing up blog posts.
When you check into a beer on Untapped you have the option to rate it from one to five stars. Like any rating it is completely subjective, but here is the method behind my own madness.
1 Star: This beer is terrible. It has deep flaws and has bitterly disappointed me. This rating is rare, but when you see it please take it as a sign to stay away at all costs. A sample one star beer would be mass market happoshu or the Brewmaster Oatmeal Black I tried at the last beer festival.
2 Stars: For me a two star beer is “not bad.” I would put most mass market lagers at 2 stars. These beers are drinkable, but not really good enough to brag about. They have a few noticeable flaws, but a two star beer might also have a few noticeable strengths. Something like regular Coors Banquet Beer is two stars. Fine to drink, but you may not want to be caught!
3 Stars: For a me a three star beer is one that is doing most things right. Off flavors should be minimal to non-existent, and it should be a beer you could enjoy for just about any occasion. A good example of three stars is something like Aooni IPA, really tasty but lacking that final bit of pizazz that would push it over to four or five stars.
4 Stars: Four stars marks a very good beer. Not quite world class, but a beer you would never hesitate to recommend. A good example of a four star beer is Baird’s Single Take Session Ale.
5 Stars: I reserve five stars for the absolutely fantastic. A five star beer is hands down world class. I try to keep these ratings rare so that when I give out five stars it really means something. Lagunitas Sucks and Boulevard Brewing’s Saison Brett are both five stars for me.
Untapped also lets you unlock badges, and like any sort of reward scheme it can be pretty addicting. They have national badges, style badges, and a few special occasion ones too. It adds that extra little bit of pizzaz when you unlock a badge after your fifth IPA or Japanese beer. While Untapped really doesn’t have much of a function, I find it really enjoyable and engaging.
Another good app for people living in Japan is the aptly named Craft Beer Japan. It lists beer bars all across Japan with a list of how many taps, a map and sometimes a write up. It can be very useful when you are in a new area and want to figure out a good place to grab a craft beer. One issue with it is simply an issue with Japan and craft beer distribution. The app is really only be useful in the bigger cities. So if you are traveling or live close to a major metropolitan area it can point you in the right direction but if you are out in the boondocks there really is no right direction to go!
The Beer Advocate app is perhaps the most useful. If you enjoy craft beer and have yet to check out Beer Advocate, I highly recommend it. Their databanks list just about any beer or brewery you can imagine, with ratings and reviews. You can also look up general styles and see a ranking of the top beers in each. Beer advocate is an amazing resource, especially when you are confronted with a choice between unfamiliar beers. Simply look up one of your candidates and see how it rates. The app also gives access to the Beer Advocate forums which are full of helpful and knowledgeable beer geeks from around the world all discussing something they love. Beer!
Do you use any of these apps? Are there any more you might recommend? Let me know in the comments!