Untappd raised the bar for beer rating apps; BeerAdvocate is hoping to retake the throne.
For Untappd, their “killer app” was… uh… their app. At a time when two websites ruled the user-generated beer review scene — BeerAdvocate and RateBeer — Untappd launched with a simple twist: focus on having a great mobile app to make handheld beer rating easier on the go. The strategy worked, and the newcomer quickly became an industry force, leaving its two competitors playing catch-up.
At this point, we can put RateBeer aside. Earlier this year, the site was fully bought out by Anheuser-Busch InBev, and as VinePair’s Cat Wolinski wonderfully illuminated earlier this week, that conflict of interests comes with some extremely troubling baggage.
But for years, BeerAdvocate was my go-to beer rating website. One advantage BeerAdvocate has always had over Untappd was that though the founders of Untappd mostly saw beer as an opportunity, the two brothers behind BeerAdvocate, Jason and Todd Alström, are genuine beer geeks who launched their site in 1996, back when beer geeks were barely even a thing. Beyond providing a platform for beer reviews, they’ve also continued to run forums and publish articles (including in print magazine form). I’ve always had a ton of respect for Beer Advocate, even when (cough) I switch to Untappd for most of my beer rating because of the ease of using their app.
But yesterday, BeerAdvocate announced it was making a major play to win back people like me with plans to launch “a powerful new app” next month. The free app — called “Beers by BeerAdvocate” and available for both iPhones and Android — is said to be the result of over a year of research and development.
“We’re excited to finally launch the app that our users have been waiting for. Beers will focus exclusively on discovering, reviewing, and tracking beers,” Todd Alström said in a statement. “It also brings something to our community that’s been missing: the ability to easily take and share photos of beers as you’re drinking them. I haven’t decided what it’s going to be yet, but I can’t wait to share my first review from the app.” (There’s that personal BeerAdvocate touch I mentioned above.)
Beyond the usual features any good beer rating app should have, BeerAdvocate also promises “unprecedented new ways to search, sort and filter brewery beer lists as well as personal beer lists (including performing all three functions simultaneously).” An in-app browser will make it easy to access brewery websites, and users can even make phone calls to breweries through the app — a potential massive step forward in the world of drunk-dialing.
“Overall, Beers by BeerAdvocate was designed for efficiency and performance,” the brand states. “It works with a single bar of signal strength and to a degree will even function offline. Much of the data is stored within the app so in essence, every person who has it installed on their mobile device effectively has a mini version of BeerAdvocate stored locally. And when data is fetched remotely it is cached locally on a user’s device, which makes loading remote data and images very smooth.”
Of course, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, these days, the real question becomes how this new app will stack up against Untappd. If you want to find out sooner than later, BeerAdvocate says you can get a chance to beta test the new app by joining their Respect Beer Society.