Friday, December 15, 2017

☸️ Untappd!

Main screen of the Untappd appI wrote about ordering flights of beers for sampling a brewpub’s offerings in my last article. They’re a great way to enjoy a wide variety of beer without drinking too much. In this article we’ll dig into a fun and easy way to keep track of where you went for beer, who you were with, what you tasted, and what you thought about it: the Untappd app for smartphones from Untappd, Inc.

Untappd’s main functions can be broken down into three categories: friends, beers, and venues. As soon as you install the app and sign up for a free account you’ll be able to “friend” other beer fans who use the app. This is similar to friending people on Facebook. Once your friend has accepted your invitation you’ll be able to see the beers they’ve enjoyed, what venues they’ve visited, and tag them in your check-ins.

That last act links your activities, so you can page back later to see who you were with when you visited a particular brewpub, or recall the name of that beer you both enjoyed last year. Your activity history is available via the first icon in the app’s toolbar.

The second icon will show you nearby, beer-friendly venues based on your current location. It’s a handy way to find the brewpub you’re looking for.

The check-in icon, middle of the toolbar, opens the app’s main feature. It lets you peruse Untappd’s extensive list of known venues, beers, and events. If you have your hands on a beer, chances are it’s already known to the app. You can look up the beer sitting in front of you, tap out a brief opinion, enter a 0-5 star rating in quarter-point increments, detail where you’re drinking the beer, where you bought it, and who you’re with. There’s a link to your smartphone’s camera where you can take a photo of the beer, or use a photo from your gallery. Each of these is optional.

UNtappd app check-in screenAfter tapping Check-In your activity is available to all of your beer friends, and added to the expanding list of beers you’ve sampled. That’s not the end of the line, however. You can link the Untappd app to your Twitter, Facebook, or Swarm account, so all of your friends outside the Untappd app can see what you’re up to.

Logging your beer to these social media platforms is optional, and can be disabled on a per-check-in basis.

Untappd confers an unending series of badges upon you as you accumulate varying styles of beer, venues and brewpubs visited, and photos added. They’re a mildly amusing way of charting your way across the beer spectrum. They also can be shut off.

Neal and I have sampled a great many beers together, but I only began logging mine faithfully in the last few years. I couldn’t keep the app in mind while gawking at the brewpub layout, sampling the beer, and holding conversation early on, but I have it down to a short process now. Untappd keeps a few things in recent memory to help you along. Here’s my strategy for using the app.

Pick the brewery you’re visiting while waiting for your flight to arrive, then select the first beer you’ll taste. Customarily that’ll be the lightest, mildest of the flight. Choosing the beer puts a check-in screen in front of you. For each of the rest of the beers, the brewery you’re visiting is the first in a pick menu that builds just under the search box, and the location you’re enjoying the beer and where you purchased the beer are the first in a row of recent check-in locations. These last two items will be identical if you’re at a brewpub.

Rate the beer on a scale of 0-5 stars, tap out a brief description, tag your pals and the locations, and select one or more flavor profiles describing the beer. Add the serving style: draft, can, bottle, growler, etc. Tap check-in and you’re done. A check-in takes a minute, tops.

Early on in Untappd’s history, star ratings could only be entered in whole number increments. Though I see the value in a more granular increment, I usually stick with my initial rating scheme. Five stars goes to a beer that’s best-in-class. For me there can be five-star beers in all of the styles all-at-once, and as time goes by I accumulate five-star ratings within the same style. If it knocks my socks off, it gets five stars.

Four stars goes to a beer I’d go back for. While not the very best I’ve had, it’s memorable enough for a return visit.

Three stars goes to a beer that’s good, not great, but not bad.

For me, there is no beer-related difference between one and two stars. What else could remain below an average, three-star beer? Crappy beer. Two stars if I liked the brewery or the wait staff was nice to me, one if not. I have, in fact, had a one-star beer in Northern Virginia that wasn’t just a crappy, one-dimensional IPA, but was served by an indifferent wait staff.

While it doesn’t make intuitive sense to incorporate a brewery and wait staff into the rating, I’m doing it to give them a break on what would otherwise be a waste of my palate. Star ratings of all your beers at a single venue are combined with all others at that venue to give the brewery a rating. So, if I like the place, or you’re nice to me, I’ll rate your crappy beers a little better than if not.

Flavor profile tags in the Untappd appSee? There’s method at work here.

I try to keep flavor profiles simple. We used to be able to add new profile tags, but as you can see, Untappd users got a little carried away before the app designer locked it down. My profile tags are either maltyhoppy, or balanced, and maybe something descriptive of a dominant flavor, such as piney or caramel.

The more familiar you are with the people you’re tasting with, the less you’ll notice everyone dropping out of conversation to log their beer. Sample – comment – log – sample again – resume previous conversation. This can go on for a couple of hours. It’s a fun, geeky pursuit that adds to the enjoyment of a brewery visit.

Many breweries employ Untappd For Business. It’s a great way to publish the brewery’s menu on a large-screen TV over the bar, post upcoming events, and display customer check-ins along the bottom row of the menu in real time. It’s kinda neat seeing your check-in published as you enjoy a beer. Untappd For Business also posts updates to social media, so customers can follow and keep track of what’s going on at their favorite breweries.

That’s Untappd. It’s available for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and (wait for it) Blackberry 10. Apparently that’s still a thing.

I’m andrewjamesrichardson on Untappd, and I’d be happy to see what you’re enjoying at your favorite brewpub.

Cheers!

#Untappd #apps #smartphone #craftBeer #brewPubs