Let’s be honest, drinking is a social event. Oh I won’t lie, I enjoy drinking a nice beer in quiet solitude (well as much solitude as you can have with a girlfriend, two kids and two dogs) but if you look through history, drinking has been an activity that brings people together. Whether it’s a bottle of wine at dinner, some mead shared by vikings around the campfire, or guys at the local bar cheering on their favorite baseball team. Whatever the occasion, people enjoy drinking together.
So it’s no small wonder in this age of social media that a few people have taken up the task to broaden the scope of social drinking, and to my thinking it was inevitable.
One such group are the guys from Untappd, the designers of a social media application that allows you to enjoy beers with your friends, even if they’re seven states away. The concept is easy enough (if you do Facebook or Twitter you’re 3/4 of the way there) and in my mind the execution is flawless.
To start, point the browser of you computer to the Untappd website. I always recommend registering and setting up new accounts on a computer – it just seems easier. Once you’ve answered a few easy questions and roamed around the site you’re ready to go. Now here comes the easy part, go drink a beer. See? Fun isn’t it? While you’re sipping, point the browser on you phone to return to the Untappd web application. Yes, I hear you “what? no app?” No, at the moment Untapped runs off of a web browser based app so you’ll need a phone with internet capability to get the most at out it, but don’t panic! The app is tight and straight forward and you’ll have no problems running it.
Once you’ve logged onto the Untappd web app, the fun begins. By clicking a button at the upper right of the screen that says “drink up” you’ll be taken to the check in screen. Checking in is easy. First, in the field for your beer, type the name or a few key words of your beer and hit the search button. Untappd will then search through it’s extensive beer database and find the beer it thinks you’re drinking. Didn’t find it? Don’t worry, Untappd gives you the ability to add it – but to be honest, I think you’ll rarely have to do this. Once you’ve entered your beer next is the location where you are enjoying it. Untappd gives you the ability (you can opt not to do this if you wish) to use your phone’s built in GPS to find your location and give you options in the surrounding area as to where you might be enjoying your beer. Again, not there? Add it! It’s easy.
After location you have the ability to leave a comment. Untappd gives you plenty of space to do this. If you don’t leave a comment your check in will have some little notation like : TheDogsOfBeer are sipping a Summer Love from @Victorybeers at @2stonespub. However, bear in mind that if you do add a comment, that comment will be displayed in your Twitter feed (more below) and since you have only so many letters on Twitter, the above message will be displayed as a link back to Untappd. So if you want to comment make sure you include the name of your beer (at the very least) and the location so people can easily see them.
Now that the basics are in the next part is one of my favorite things about this app. You can connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to Untappd so that your activity is uploaded from Untappd (do this when you register) when you check in. However every time you check in, Untappd gives you the option of whether or not you want to upload your activity to these accounts. A few clicks on some radio buttons and you’re all set. Now is the big moment. Click the “Confirm Your Brew” button and POW! you’ve checked in your first beer.
While the check in process is the spine of Untappd, it offers a lot of other fun features as well. First, Untappd will recommend new beers for you to try based on the ones you have input. Also, like facebook (friends) or twitter (follow) Untappd allows you to “friend” others in the Untappd community. A screen in the app will show you what your friends have been drinking
One of the coolest things about Untappd is that it rewards you for your beers in the way of badges. Badges can be earned based on the beers you enter, and there are some cool ones. Badges are separated into three categories, the first, BEERS is pretty straight forward. You get badges at certain numbers of unique beers (1, 25, 50…500) you check in. You can also get badges for drinking beers in a certain style like mexican, IPAs or irish. Drink 5 beers in a sitting and earn your “Drinking Your Paycheck” badge.
The next catagory is venue. Interesting badges like Ahoy Matey!, The Layover, Hitting The Slopes and Bowl-a-Rama wait for you beer lovers that tend to enjoy your brews in interesting places.
Finally, the really cool ones, the “Special” badges. Some of these are limited to within a certain time frame. For instance, you needed to check in during American Craft Beer Week to earn that badge. Now you’ll have to wait till next year. Some of the badges however are a collaboration between Untappd and other beer minded people. Dogfish Head Brewery has a badge for anyone that drinks three beers in their Ancient Ales category. The guys from Hop Cast have just jumped on, drinking beers that they feature on their webcast show will get you a badge. And don’t over look one of my favorites, “New Beer Thursday”. Check in with a new beer three Thursdays in a row and get your badge. Got it? Well keep going! The badge has levels.
There are other apps out there for connecting to your beer friends. I encourage you to seek them out, find one that works for you and start checking in. After all, drinking is a social event. And it no longer matters if the person you’re drinking with is 4 time zones away! Time for a beer, I want that July 4th badge!
What’s your favorite app for beer? Have you used Untappd? How do you like it?