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5 new beer apps, reviewed

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Beer Apps

Despite some claims that smartphone owners’ interest in mobile apps is in decline, there’s no shortage of beer apps out there to fire up. With established apps already in the books (read: beer and running apps, Oktoberfest apps, essential beer apps), it’s worth checking out some of the newer software to hit the market. I recently downloaded and test-drove a collection of beer apps to see what’s new. Read on to see the results:

Hops ($.99)

Details: The app’s tagline is “Hops learns what beers you like and finds new ones you’ll love.” That’s true, to an extent. The app starts out by presenting a list of beers to rate, which range from macros like Heineken and Bud Light to readily available craft beers like Dogfish Head 90 Minute and Alaskan Amber. Then it uses your location to suggest beers nearby based on those initial ratings. It’s a cool concept and the app itself is graphically sleek, but the results are a bit hit-and-miss. The first beer it suggested was Four Peaks Blind Date, which I believe is retired. The second? Thunderhead from the defunct Rio Salado Brewing. The remaining results ranged from excellent beers in my region that aren’t distributed in Phoenix (La Cumbre Elevated IPA) to beers I do enjoy locally (Sonoran Victorian IPA).
Verdict: If the developers update the app’s outdated brewery/beer database, as well as distribution information, this will be a really handy app. For now, there’s a lot of irrelevant information to sift through.

SipSnapp (free)

Details: Use the in-app camera to take a picture of a bar’s beer menu, and the app provides ratings from partner Ratebeer.com. I really wanted this to work and, to my surprise, it did. I printed off a beer menu, took the photo and, voila!, I was presented with ratings for the likes of Hanssens Oude Gueuze and Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout. It took a few tries—you have to get a good image for the app’s scanning technology to work—but SipSnapp proved a valuable companion for my next bar visit.
Verdict: Definitely worth a download. You can also manually enter a beer to search ratings, which increases the app’s value.

Pombe (free)

Details: The app promises personalized suggestions, event analytics and news on tap takeovers and release schedules. It wants to be your one-source app for all things beer-related. But, as it is now, the app’s really just another platform to “check-in” newly tasted beers, much like Untappd, with which it connects. But, an app that notifies you of cool beer events based on your location, suggests new beers to try, and connects you with other beer-minded individuals? That does sound pretty cool, in theory.
Verdict: It’s free, so go ahead and check it out. I’ll revisit it after the next update.

Badass Beer App (free)

Details: Beer loyalty clubs are a big deal for some drinkers, especially when clubs offer discounts. Badass Beer App’s primary function is to connect you with beer clubs in your area, so you can keep a constant watch on new offerings and current discounts. But, when I swung by the app’s “beer clubs” section, only six were listed, and none were in my area. Of those six, only three seemed active (at least, only three offered tap listings). The rest of the app functions much like Untappd: Users rate beers.
Verdict: Until its beer club functionality is up and running, this one’s probably a pass.

Beer Buddy ($3.99)

Details: It’s the priciest on this list, but Beer Buddy quickly proves it’s worth the cash. Like SipSnapp, it’s powered by RateBeer.com’s reviews and employs scanning technology, but this app scans barcodes instead of beer lists. It works like this: You open the in-app scanner, hover it over a beer’s barcode, and the app returns vital beer stats, descriptions, review scores and written reviews. I used the scanner in our office and it recognized beers from Intuition Ale Works, Rahr & Sons, Green Flash at St. Feuillien without missing a beat. The ability to scan and review beer is cool, but the real value of this app is simply the barcode recognition. Imagine using the app inside a huge beer store: One scan, and you have all the information you need right in your palm. Plus, if you scan a beer and nothing comes up, a simple search-and-tag function allows you to update barcodes for everyone.
Verdict: I bought it, and I’m going to tell all of my beer friends to do the same.

 

Author
Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.

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