By Justin Dolezal, Foodable Contributor
The recent rise in popularity of craft beer has been an exciting movement in the food industry, as the demand for quality beer has produced a bevy of new breweries and products, providing a seemingly endless variety of options for both consumers and industry insiders alike. However, one could be forgiven for feeling a bit overwhelmed by this new bounty of beer choices, as the options available at bottle shops, bars, and restaurants have reached a level previously reserved for wine.
Luckily, resources for beer information have emerged to meet the demand for beer knowledge, many available as convenient smartphone apps. These apps can be useful for both consumers seeking knowledge and brewers/restaurateurs seeking to get their products noticed. The following is a list of apps that can help you navigate the wonderful, complex world of craft beer.
Brewdex: The Quick and Easy Reference
Think of Brewdex as your beer 101 study guide. The app provides basic but thorough information on beer styles, food pairings, glassware, beer history, and brewing, all in an extremely streamlined, easy-to-use app. The styles guide is fantastic, as beers are categorized by country of origin and listed along a color spectrum, making it easy to find information on whatever style you're looking for. Tap on a style, and you're presented with a list of beer statistics (SRM for color, IBUs for bitterness, ABV for alcohol strength), a history of the style, a flavor profile, ideas for food pairings, and recommended commercial examples. Brewdex forgoes the user-engagement model that so many apps rely on, instead acting as a pocket encyclopedia for all things beer. A great resource for both the craft beer novice and Cicerone alike, Brewdex provides a wealth of information in a way that is completely approachable and not intimidating.
BeerAdvocate: The User-Aggregated Rating Site
The wildly popular website BeerAdvocate.com uses user reviews to rate beers, breweries, and beer retailers, while providing backgrounds on styles, glassware, beer history, and anything else the aspiring beer geek could want to know. The site also provides an online forum for beer enthusiasts to share their thoughts on all things beer, review beers they like or dislike, and participate in beer trades. The app allows users to access the site's information quickly and easily, and can be helpful if you're looking for a consensus on a specific beer you're considering. Traveling to a new city and looking for a quality pint? The app's convenient “Nearby” feature quickly provides info on beer establishments close to you, along with business information and, of course, handy user reviews. The app also allows owners of beer businesses to see what people are saying about their business, providing an invaluable tool for those looking to improve their beer program.
TapHunter: Find Your Favorite Beer
Anyone who's active in the craft beer world can attest to the fact that seeking out hard-to-find beers is a large part of the thrill involved. Though certainly rewarding, locating your favorite rare or seasonal beer can prove challenging and time consuming. Enter TapHunter, an app designed to act as a honing beacon for beer lovers. TapHunter offers consumers a platform that helps them locate their favorite beers quickly and easily. Users create an account and then select specific beers and or breweries that they like. The app then alerts users when local beer establishments using TapHunter have those beers available, essentially removing the research or guesswork required to find highly sought-after beers.
TapHunter is equally valuable to business owners, providing software that simplifies and streamlines the marketing of a beverage program. Business owners who have a TapHunter account can update their beer, spirit, and cocktail lists on the TapHunter website, which will then update the business's website, social media, print and digital menu boards, and TapHunter account. The program requires a monthly fee, but can pay off by providing a better beverage experience to consumers seeking their favorite pint.
Untappd: Beer as Social Media
Untappd [sic] uses the slogan “Drink Socially,” and is definitely the most social-media-based beer app available. Seemingly built with the millennial, tech-savvy user in mind, Untappd allows users to create a profile and then add friends who also use the app. From there, users are encouraged to check in beers that they've had on the app, and can add photos, comments, and a quick rating (Untappd uses a 1-5 star rating system; Beeradvocate, by comparison, rates beers on a 100-point scale).
Untappd also provides tools directly aimed at helping breweries and venues raise their profiles and reach their consumers. Business owners can claim the page for their business and share information with their consumers, including history, event calendars, and tap lists. The app combines a Facebook-like social media experience with an easy rating system reminiscent of Yelp. For the proprietor of your local neighborhood dive, this may all seem a bit silly. For a bar or restaurant owner looking to engage with their consumers directly, Untappd is an essential.