I was sitting there minding my own business, finishing up dinner, watching my stepdad play Rock’em Sock’em Robots with my daughter, listening to music on Spotify (I’ll get to that point later) and finishing a beer while playing around on Untappd. The thought occurred to me that I needed to check in the beer I was drinking with dinner, and once I hit “Check In,” I got really surprised. The badge popped up “5,000 Check Ins.” I finally made it to the “Epic Untappd Badge.”
I have been using Untappd since 2013 to keep track of the beers I have had. There have been years that I have made a point to make mention of some of my favorite beers that I have checked in. I used to pay more attention to how I rated the beers. At a certain point, I simply started marking almost every beer I drink as a four because I am sort of a craft beer homer, and I don’t think the ratings really make sense.
There is so much that goes into rating a beer. Your eyes matter when rating a beer: How much you like the can or the glass it was served in; whether the glass is clean or dirty. It affects your experience of beer the time of day you would drink it; what you are eating alongside it; what else you have had to drink.
Then, there is the issue of freshness: when the beer was packaged; whether the beer was refrigerated all the way to you; whether the beer sat under lights or in direct sunlight; whether it has cardboard casing protecting the beer in glass bottles from light. You also have to have the beer at the proper temperature it was meant to be served at, often times, you are probably drinking the beer per style too cold if I were a betting man.
So, after all of that, what are you rating? Are you rating the liquid in the can; how much you like this beer for the brewery it came from; how well you stored and poured the beer for yourself and paired it with your food or evening; the fact that a friend or friendly neighborhood “beer expert” recommended it you?
At the end of all of these deliberations, I decided. I will give a beer that achieves the idea that I enjoyed it while drinking it a four rating on Untappd. If I think about the beer after sips two or three, I will give it above a four. If I pull the glass away from my face in a “Matrix” sort of move and say, “Whoa” after the first sip, that is easily rated a five. If the beer is not technically bad, but fails to reach the appropriate amount of enjoyment, it receives a three-and-a-half.
I hope not to tank some brewery’s hard-earned rating because I didn’t like their beer, though their beer is probably worth liking. These are probably unpopular opinions. I apologize for doing a weird thing with my Untappd activity.
Here some of my favorite things about using Untappd. The year 2013 is a was a different time, and the way we used the internet then was a much different approach to things. It had never occurred to me that someone would care how I went about my ratings. I didn’t think that anyone would ever use a very positive or very negative rating on this social media platform as a political statement.
I just logged the stuff I had and the way the app incentivized trying new and different things I thought was a net positive in my life. There are lots of beer styles or settings that I would never entertain that I felt compelled to try because of my deep love of progress tracking. So much so, that often, if I forget to check something or if, God forbid, Untappd does not record my actual check in, I will forego rechecking it in unless I actually physically have the beer again.
It has sort of been a life’s pursuit to check in as many Oktoberfest beers as I can. This is a dubious award because these beers are meant to be as similar as possible. I have communicated over the years how much I deeply love Oktoberfest as a holiday for a number of reasons: It has its own costume; it has its own food you don’t normally eat throughout the rest of the year; it lasts for 10 days and, lastly, and most importantly, it is the only holiday that specifically celebrates beer, the beverage, alone. I have reached level 19, which means I have had 98 different marzen or Oktoberfest beers.
Another badge I have made a pursuit of is the “At the Source” badge, where you achieve badges for checking in beers at the breweries that made them. I have reached level 35, which means I have made it to 179 different breweries. Some of them are no longer breweries, like Baderbrau Brewing, Argus Brewing, the 3 Floyds Brewpub and Vice District Brewing. I love this badge because I think that visiting the place the beer is made, talking with the people who made it and having it served the way the brewers intended, is an important experience.
I’ll wrap this memory session up with the idea that I have appreciated the opportunity to visit beer fests where I would check in 20 different beers, sips at a time, of course, all in the service of making sure I was up on the trends in craft beer, conversant in the happenings of local breweries and reporting back to you fine folks. Here’s to getting things back to normal so we can raise a glass together.
I thought that it would be fitting to recommend the first three beers that I rated as a five in 2013. These are the first three entries that show up chronologically in my Untappd — Beers — Ratings — Highest to Lowest — Top of list.
I said I would get back to what we were listening to on Spotify. Recently to be more intentional with the music we play on the Bluetooth speaker, I thought it might be fun to listen to “Rolling Stone’s” list of 500 top songs of all time. We are in the 300s somewhere. There are some weird songs on that list.