For people like you and me, the craft beer scene is a walk in the park. But for those new to the world of bubbly goodness, finding a good beer is an overwhelmingly daunting task. I should know, since I was a newbie only a couple of years ago. There is a glut of beers on the market, and regional availability, price, and quality varies. With the popularity of smartphones rising, it was only a matter of time before the craft beer nerds got their hands on one and started writing apps for it. Here are three apps that I’ve used on many an alcohol, malt, and hops infused evening. *Note: I use an Android powered device, so I’m not sure if some of these apps are available for iPhone. It should be pretty simple to find out.
Beer is essentially a beer tasting notebook, with entries for brewer, beer name, a rating, and even photos (paid version only). It’s database is decently appointed, but the app’s interface left something to be desired. It did offer a backup of your personal beer entries to their servers, but when I would try to retrieve my beers after a reinstall, the app couldn’t find my account. There’s a lot of data entry you have to do yourself, which as we all know, after a few brews can be pretty damn tricky. On the plus side, it has a barcode scanner built in, but that doesn’t always work, and the information is never put into the correct fields. You can do a bulk barcode scan, and export your list to csv as well, but you have to remember to backup on a regular basis. You know, as I’m reading this, there are a lot of “buts.” Maybe avoid this one.
Beerby (rhymes with nearby) is a nice little app that adds a cool social element to your beer drinking. Um, you know, more than the social element that usually comes with drinking beer. The interface is simple, with tabs for searching, places, contacts, and your own tab. Simply type in the beer’s name and wait for it to come up, check-in to the beer, and you can share on Twitter and Facebook. The app will automatically post to those social networks so people can see what you’re drinking. One cool feature is that you can have the app check in to Foursquare as well, so your drinking buddies can find you and harass you for being a nerd. To add to the game, you can earn badges for how many beers you drink, how often, and in how many different places.
Untappd is very similar to Beerby, except that it doesn’t sit on your phone as an app. Instead, this social beer sharing service works as a mobile web site. The advantage over the other apps is that Untappd takes up zero space on your smartphone, leaving you room for other useless apps. Untappd has many of the same features as Beerby, including Twitter and Facebook integration, easy search function, badge earning, and Foursquare check-ins. You can also go to the Untappd website using your home computer and have a look at your “Tab” to see what you’ve had to drink and what badges you’ve earned, scan “The Pub” to track what other users are drinking, and find what businesses (mostly bars) that people are checking into. And I just found out that there’s a brand new feature where you can check in to Untappd using the regular web interface as well, though you can’t check in with Foursquare integration (duh). No more phone only check-ins!
Overall, I think Untappd has pulled ahead of the other apps in terms of ease of use and functionality. The other apps are ok, but Untappd clearly has the advantage with its much better social media integration and fun interface. While there are dozens of other beer apps out there—some more useful than others—these three are pretty near the top. But that all depends on what you want to do with them. Check them out and have fun. Cheers!