Nothing is spared the march of technology - not even getting a beer. But the good news for craft beer lovers is there are a number of apps on the market today that can actually enhance the experience.
As the craft industry has grown, the excitement surrounding it has spilled over into other industries. Craft distillers are taking their cues from craft brewers. And app makers have found the craft world to be very open to tools to improve and socialize their beer drinking.
That has led to a renaissance of sorts for beer apps. Whether you're looking to find a brewery near you, a suggestion on a beer you might enjoy or on the hunt for a rare whale beer, there's an app for that. There's even a social media app for craft beer.
I'm an avid user of several of these tools - and they've proved useful in a variety of ways (especially when I'm on the road and want to try something that isn't available at my local craft beer store).
Here are a few of my favorites.
Untappd - It's the Facebook of the beer drinking world. (It's also the Twitter and FourSquare of the beer drinking world, but Facebook is the best comparison. ) Rather than posting pictures of your cat or quizzes determining where your soul is from, you check in with what you're drinking - and connected friends can toast (aka like) it and leave comments.
The app also recommends other beers based on the style you're enjoying and lets you find nearby establishments that serve craft beer. It most importantly serves as a beer journal, letting you keep track of what you like and don't like - which is becoming more important as the options available to craft beer lovers expand dramatically (and it becomes a bit harder to remember which ones are good and which are just so-so).
If you get just one beer app, this is the one you want. (And, if you do, send me a friend request! My username is MorrisatLarge.)
Brewery Passport - In a new town for a day or two and want to seek out the local micro and nanobreweries? Brewery Passport lets you know how close they are. It's a fairly barebones app, but it lets you know who's nearby and offers links to their Website and Facebook page, letting you take a look at what they're pouring before you venture out and connect with the brewery. There's also a journal function, letting you note your favorite beers by style at each establishment.
Next Glass - You really enjoyed your last beer, but you're either out of that brand or want to try something different. Next Glass scans the label (not the UPC code) of your bottle or can and makes recommendations for other varieties you might enjoy - and does so with a remarkable accuracy. Over time, the app learns your taste preferences - and can build a taste profile, letting it make even more accurate suggestions.
TapHunter - On the hunt for a rare whale beer? Get alerts when it goes on tap at your local watering hole with this app. TapHunter tracks when kegs are, well, tapped and can also offer personalized recommendations. The hiccup here is that the app relies on bar, restaurant, growler filler stations and other beer-related businesses to sign up with the service, so if your usual haunts don't do so, it may not be useful for you.
iBrewMaster 2 - If you're a home brewer, this is an absolutely essential tool. The app comes with more than 600 pre-installed recipes - and the ability to share and read recipes from other home brewers. It will guide you through the entire process of making your own beer - and provide estimates on things like alcohol content and calories. Loaded with tools and calculators, it will also help you find suppliers and let you keep a schedule of what you're brewing at any given time.
(Available on iOS. Android version forthcoming)
Pivo - Visiting another country and forgot to bone up on key phrases? The Pivo app lets you order a beer in 59 different languages - even including phonetic pronunciations. Sure, you could just mime the gesture, or point at the tap. And "beer" is one of those words that's generally understood in any bar in the world, but why label yourself as a tourist quite so obviously? (Plus, being able to ask for a beer in Gaelic or Serbian is a cool party trick.)
(Available on iOS)