As a penny-pinching college student in the early-’90s, I was always on the hunt for deals. This included happy hour free food and cheap beer.
Fast-forward two decades. With a little more disposable income and a refined palate, I prefer the taste of an occasional craft beer paired with an artisan burger.
Most of the beer choices I make at the bar come by way of suggestions from bartenders and the “beer connoisseur” on the next stool.
But when I’m standing in the beer cooler, and there’s no one else around, it’s hard to know which beer to buy. IPA. Porter. Lager. Stout. There are seemingly unlimited choices.
It’s easy for a beer muggle to get lost.
Thankfully, there’s a beer app (or two) for that. Here are two of my favorites:
Untappd (Android, iOS, Windows; free). It never fails. I try a new tasty brew and promptly forget the name and where I drank it. With Untappd, you can check in at the local pub and record what you’ve tried. Rate beer to let others know what you think.
After you log in and connect with friends via Facebook and other social platforms, you can search favorite beers by venues or breweries.
When I searched the Youngstown area, local favorites like Rust Belt Brewing and Paladin Brewing popped up. From there, you can view brewery beer lists and venue menus. Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts lists 33 beers on the draft menu.
Untappd gamifies the beer sampling experience with badges. Drink a new beer, get a new badge. Try different beer styles and unlock achievements.
One of my favorite features is “Get a Ride.” If you’ve had one too many, the app provides a direct link to Uber.
Barly (Android, iOS; free). Log in and meet Charles Barly, your beer aficionado. Barly walks you through the beer selection process by identifying your tastes. You can refine your tastes using the palate feature. I chose “crisp and clean” and “fruit and spicy” from the palate list, but you can delve a little deeper by selecting region and style (e.g., pale ale, lager, etc.).
Based on your preferences, Barly uses red stars to suggest beer selections at various locations depending on your palate. For example, at Magic Tree Pub in Boardman, Barly suggested I try Mother Pucker from Birdfish Brewing (watermelon flavor) or Mango Hops, a kombucha-style tea beer from Wild Ohio Brewing (you guessed it, mango flavor).
If you like a beer not listed in Barly’s selections, submit a new beer with the name, brewery and style. You can also list the ABV (alcohol by volume), IBU (international bitter unit), calories and a brief description.
Remember that you need to be of legal drinking age to use these apps.
And regardless of what beer apps you use, always drink responsibly.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.