How to Use the Beer Tracking Social Media Platform Like a Pro

If there’s one thing that annoys local breweries, it’s Untappd.

Me? I don’t hate Untappd, despite my general disdain for social media platforms. It’s certainly less harmful than most when it comes to harvesting your personal information and using it to feed you ads.

Untappd is the social media platform for beer lovers. It offers its users a good way to track the beers they have tried and their impressions of them. It also gives users a way to keep tabs on what their friends are drinking so they can discover new libations and compare tasting notes.

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How does Untappd work?

If you’ve never tried Untappd before, it works like this. After creating a profile, you can search and “save” beers. You simply search for the beer, select it, and then you have the option to save it.

You can comment on the recording and include photos of the beer (or whatever you want, but the beer is the star of the show here). You can also include information such as flavor profile tags (hoppy, strong, sweet), how the beer was served (on tap, in a can), where you bought it, and where you drink it. The recording then appears on your timeline, as well as in the feeds of anyone you’re friends with on the platform.

You also have the option of giving the beer a rating between 0.25 and five stars (a score of zero will result in the beer not being rated).

And it’s this ranking system that drives people in the industry crazy.

Each time you search for a beer, you will see how many times the beer has been saved and the average rating it has received on the platform. Your registration will influence the beer’s overall rating, which other people can — and often — use to make buying decisions. This is the biggest selling point for me when it comes to Untappd, and the only reason I even have a profile on the platform to begin with.

Let’s say Goofus tries a beer he doesn’t like. Goofus doesn’t like hefeweizens, and the beer he registers is hefeweizen. So Goofus gives the beer a single star and writes in the comments: “I hate hefeweizens.”

Is this beer really a one star beer? Of course not. Goofus’ one-star rating has nothing to do with the quality of the beer or the craftsmanship that went into making it. But because Goofus hates hefeweizens, the overall rating is dragged down.

Shit, Goofus. Not cool.

So whether you’re a seasoned Untappd user or just getting to know it now, here are a few things to keep in mind when using this handy – if sometimes frustrating – app for drinking beer.

How to use Untappd without looking like a newb

  • Include as much information as possible in a check-in. If you enjoy what you drink, great! Go ahead and save it. Give it a rating. But before you finalize that recording, be sure to tell everyone where you got it. The brewery and retailer will thank you, as will your friends who are curious to know where they can get it.
  • Be fair when giving grades. If you don’t like a certain style of beer, you’re not the person to review it. Don’t like barleywines? Don’t rate them. Simple. That’s not to say you shouldn’t check out styles that don’t usually interest you. You can do this all day. Don’t give a star rating. Also, make sure the beer you drink isn’t too old. Telling the world that the year-old IPA you’re drinking doesn’t taste good just makes you look stupid. Speaking of what…
  • You can view recent records to determine how a beer is consumed. This applies more to cellar beers, such as stouts and barley wines, but it really works on any beer with a long shelf life. If you’re worried you’ve held a bottle too long, check what others are saying. If there are a lot of reviews that say a certain supplement’s flavor is diminishing, it may be best to open your bottle as soon as possible. This information would also be useful for people who collect and trade beer, but I would never condone such a thing. Hmm.
  • Of course, individual check-ins are anecdotal. The smaller the number of records you see, the more careful you should be.
  • Big numbers don’t lie. Individual ratings should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism, but the average score across a large number of records is a pretty good indicator of a beer’s quality. I like to use Untappd to look up notes when buying beer. I look for beers for which I hesitate. Overall, a 4.0 or better is a good sign that I will enjoy this beer. But not all styles are categorized the same. Some styles just get lower ratings. For example, a really good pilsner might only get an average rating of 3.7 on Untappd, while the same rating on a barrel-aged stout might be considered pedestrian or even below par.

Lance B. Holton