There are about as many beer-related apps out there as there are different types of beer. Well, not really, but there’s a ton. From the gimmicky beer pong simulators and beer glugging apps to the hardcore beer brewers statistics applications, there’s really something for everyone. Just like beer! I’ve spent some time perusing the good, the bad, and the ugly of some of the more downloaded beer apps out there so that you don’t have to. My thoughts are below:
Untappd (Android, iOS, Windows Phone)
After playing with over 25 different apps, I really found Untappd to be the most useful, user-friendly, and all around well-built social beer app. Untappd lets you connect with Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare friends and invite others via e-mail. The basic premise of Untappd is that you “check-in” whenever you sit down to enjoy a beer. You can rate it, upload pictures of it, and see who else in your social network also likes or hates the beer. You can also search for nearby bars, breweries, and beers which is especially helpful if you’re interested in trying some uncommon microbrews that are not widely available. The more you check-in, the more badges you earn, like “Newbie,” “Liquid Lunch,” and “I Believe in IPA!” The badges don’t really serve a purpose other than to remind you what a lush you are, but as a former Pokémon addict you “Gotta catch em all!”
One of my favorite features of this app is that you can look up “trending beers” and further filter by micro and macro brews that are trending. For instance, earlier this week The Concourse (part of the Gawker network) ran an article about Troeg’s Nugget Nectar. And sure enough, this beer was trending on Untappd. Using Untappd, I found what bars around me serve this beer, what other users think of the beer, and the other beers I should check out if I like Nugget Nectar.
One other small feature I enjoy about this app is the ability to connect with your brewers. For example, I checked in while drinking Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA, gave it a 4 Bottle Cap review (out of 5) and got a nice little note from the brewery itself. I doubt Anheuser-Busch would ever send me a similar message. Feeling connected to and appreciated by the people who make your beer is a nice bonus.
If I had to find a downside to this app, it would simply be that I’m not sure I need a reminder of what a drunk I am. I’m not a heavy user of the app, not yet anyway, but if you check-in frequently, your friends and family now have hard data that shows them how much of a degenerate alcoholic you are. Fortunately, you can still drink all the liquor and wine you want. Shhhhh, our little secret.
Beer Citizen (Android, iOS)
This app has a huge database of beers with detailed beer descriptions and user submitted reviews. It doesn’t really do anything that Untappd can’t do, but the depth and detail of reviews far surpasses what Untappd offers almost to a fault. A user can review a beer by its appearance, scent, taste, and mouthfeel. But within each of those categories there are literally dozens of additional fields you can review. These include things like heavy, frothy, oily, warming, acidic, effervescent, floral, citrus, pine, malts, dark, carbonation, head retention, the list goes on and on. For my purposes, this is just too much detail that I don’t find particularly useful – it’s also a bit overwhelming. I also don’t know how a beer can be both light and crispy and also heavy and creamy, but the way the reviews are laid out, this seems to be the case quite a bit.
Beer Counter (Android, iOS)
Pretty much just what it says. It counts how many beers you’ve consumed and can also tell you how much you’ve spent. You can change the amount of dollars per beer and also change the amount of currency. I suppose this could be useful for trying to split up a bill at the end of the night, but if you’re seriously using a counter to track your beer consumption for the night, you’re doing it wrong. There’s also an iOS version!
Beer?! (Android, iOS)
This app will just text your friends “Beer?!” so you can invite them out for a beer. I’d rather just text my friends. It’s easier than using this app.
BeerCalc is really for more hardcore home brewers. With this application you can type in the original gravity and final gravity of the beer you made and the app will tell you things like the ABV of your beer and how many calories and carbs are in your beer per 12oz. It provides even more detail than that, but again this app is really not for the casual beer drinker and is only going to find use among serious home brewers. BrewR is a similar app, but after playing with both for a bit, BeerCalc seems a little more fleshed out and user-friendly.
TapHunter (Android, iOS)
This app has a lot of potential, but it’s just not there yet. TapHunter can tell you what beers are on tap at bars near you as well as what that bar has in cans and bottles and also beers that are “on deck.” Let’s say you’re a huge fan of some super rare Belgian Trappist Ale and you see that it’s “on deck” at a bar you like. You can figure out when it’s officially tapped and go enjoy it before they run out. Unfortunately, TapHunter’s database is just too small to be useful right now. I live in a part of Brooklyn, NY that has nearly an infinity amount of bars and the app only tells me there’s 3 bars within 3 miles of me. It’s useful for tracking those few bars, but not much else.
Any Beer ABV (Android, iOS)
Any Beer is the only app I actually paid for. It was only $0.99. The app is incredibly simple and has an enormous database of beers, telling you the brewery they’re from and the alcohol content they contain. I’m not sure I’ll ever get much use out of this app, but every once and a while I do find myself staring at a bottle of beer that doesn’t mention the ABV and more likely than not this app will be able to tell me what the alcohol content is. Pretty useful if you want to make sure you’re not accidentally drinking some 2.0% beer for weaklings or accidentally getting some 11.0% beer and thus blacking out faster than intended.
BJCP Android (Android, iOS)
BJCP, or Beer Judge Certification Program, is easily the most detailed app when it comes to describing different types of beer. This app is basically the equivalent of a giant study guide for people who want to pass the beer equivalent of whatever the top sommelier exam would be. Their database lists everything from light lagers and pilsners to meads and ciders. The categories are then even further subdivided and tell you, in excruciating detail, all about the beverage’s aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, ingredients, and history. If you want to homebrew a pale ale and make sure that your pale ale could win the equivalent of best in show at Westminster, then this app should be your guide. There’s also an iOS version!
Normally, Michael is a public health and legal consultant who primarily works with government clients evaluating health and social programs. He contributes to VinePair periodically to offer his poorly conceived opinions on many topics related to the alcohol industry.