BeerMenus is making it really easy to find rare brews.
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When craft beer first started to really impact America’s bar scene, a new mantra arose: You didn’t just want to go somewhere with beer; you wanted to go somewhere with good beer. But as craft beer continued to explode, eventually, something changed again. “Good beer” was no longer good enough. Everywhere had “good” beer. Suddenly, what was setting great bars apart from average one was different and unique beers. With over 6,000 breweries nationwide, seeing the same selections from the same “good” breweries started to get stale.

The new question became “Where is the beer selection most interesting?”

BeerMenus wants to make answering that question easier than ever before. The site and app that lets bars and restaurants put their beer lists online for customers to see, search and find has recently overhauled its Beer Recommendations feature, adding a new spin to how these kinds of algorithms typically work. Whereas conventional logic would try to find the best (aka highest rated) brews, BeerMenus’ new tool also takes into account four other parameters: Is the beer local, rare, sought-after and/or new to the menu?

“Before we launched Recommendations, all beer recommendations were only based on how other people rated beers and almost never accounted for whether you could actually buy the beer nearby,” Eric Stephens, BeerMenus Co-Founder & CEO, told us via email. “In our minds, the best beer recommendations are actionable (you can buy the beer near you) and account for more than simple ratings. We believe how local, rare, fresh, and sought after a beer is are key components to a great beer recommendation.”

For this reason, BeerMenus also looks at recent beer search data (sought-after-ness), the geographic distances of places that are currently stocking the same beer (rarity), info on where the beer is made (locality) and when the beer was added to a beer list (which among other things, determines freshness and how quickly a beer is selling).

As a result, BeerMenus recommendations are extremely dynamic. “This means that a Bell's Two Hearted isn't just a plain and simple ‘92’ or ‘4 stars,’” the site states. “It gets a different score at a place in Columbus, OH than at a place in New York City than one in Minneapolis get the picture.”

“The breadth of our data (from availability to geography to ratings) meant that we possessed the raw materials to create actionable, dynamic beer recommendations for the very first time,” Stephens explains. “We created Recommendations this way because we think it provides the best experience and because we could.”

For modern craft beer lovers, this is the kind of information they process almost every time they go out. (As well as ambiance and where friends are going: We’re not that antisocial!) Now, some of that processing can be done at your fingertips.