If you're at all enamored with the liquid poetry that is craft beer, you'll know that the endless list of brews available can make you feel like a kid in a hop-filled candy store. With the global craft beer market expected to reach a frothy $200 billion by 2025, according to Statista, we're spoilt for choice. Yet, it's like navigating through an intricate labyrinth. But fear not, for the digital age has bequeathed us Untappd—an app that aims to be the celestial GPS for the craft beer explorer.
Untappd is a social beer app, or as I like to call it, "Facebook with froth," boasting over 9 million users as of 2023. It allows beer aficionados to check-in beers, rate them on a 0-5 scale, and leave reviews. The stats are staggering: Over 650 million beers have been checked in, with reviews and ratings spurring on a thirsty competition among breweries.
This is revolutionary in a world that no longer only bows down to the altar of the beer critics and connoisseurs. The once esoteric knowledge of what makes a good Belgian Saison or New England IPA has been democratized. It's not uncommon to see patrons at a pub scanning QR codes, reading reviews, and making educated decisions based on them.
Even breweries are joining the game. They can update information about their latest brews and directly engage with the consumer. A well-rated beer on Untappd can work wonders for a fledgling craft brewery, filling the seats at taprooms faster than yeast fermenting on a warm day.
However, it's not all sparkly pints and triumphant toasts. Untappd has its share of downsides. A poorly rated beer can spell doom for a small brewer. While the wisdom of crowds can be enlightening, it can also lead to a sort of palate homogenization. Subtlety and nuance are often sacrificed at the altar of high alcohol percentages and flashy fruit additives that score well on the app.
Then there's the 'Check-in Culture', the need to document each sip for the social media gods, rather than savoring the moment and appreciating the complexities of the malt, hops, water, and yeast.
The Final Sip
The Untappd app is like the bitters in your cocktail—both a blessing and a curse. It can make you a more enlightened consumer, but it can also mar the spontaneity and surprise of discovering a hidden gem. Whether you view Untappd as your guiding star or your meddling backseat driver, there's no denying its seismic influence on the craft beer landscape.
So, here's my toast to the paradox that is Untappd. May it guide us, but never define us, in our eternal quest for that perfect pint. Cheers!