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BeerMapper
April 25, 2013 7:28 PM   Subscribe

A heat map of your preferences over the beer space. Developer Kevin Jamieson writes, "Beer Mapper is a practical implementation of my Active Ranking work on an Apple iPad. The application presents a pair of beers, one pair at a time, from a list of beers that you have indicated you know or have access to and then asks you to select which one you prefer. After you have provided a number of answers, the application shows you a heat map of your preferences over the 'beer space.'"

BeerMapper uses data from ratebeer.com and math that is way over my head to determine your preferences among the various beer styles. It is not yet ready for the App Store, but it looks very cool.
posted by clavicle (58 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Quantum foam is not the foundational fabric of the universe: it floats atop beerspace. The problem with spending too much time in beerspace, I find, is how much it hurts my branes the next day.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:37 PM on April 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


I myself have tried to map beer space. It's not that easy. My map was pretty accurate at first, but the further I went into beer space the harder it was to sight straight lines for the surveying equipemnt, and evetnrully it became impprossble to get an accurate reading, a ding. Have you ever noticed that North and South are almsot the same wrod?

I love ya man.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:41 PM on April 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


OK, can someone explain the hoppy hop hopperson obsession to me? I mean, really! *grumble grumble*
posted by redbeard at 7:44 PM on April 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Beer has gotten overwhelmingly hoppy but I do really love hops. I have hop rhizomes in my fridge right now! Gonna grow some hops and make some beer with 'em!
posted by padraigin at 7:46 PM on April 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fun... but... wish I could try it out?
posted by ph00dz at 7:50 PM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Beyond here there be Schlitz.
posted by hal9k at 7:50 PM on April 25, 2013


Me tooooooooo. I feel like this project might could do with a kickstarter.
posted by clavicle at 7:54 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


BeerSpace resembles either a poorly drawn Westeros or my liver
posted by hal9k at 7:56 PM on April 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


My beer space is above my belt and below my chest.
posted by srboisvert at 7:58 PM on April 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


OOOh! I'd honestly pay a buck for this app. I travel a bunch and am always a little lost in a new place before I find the beer I really like (though trying new ones is fun, don't get me wrong). This could actually be quite useful.
posted by dabitch at 8:03 PM on April 25, 2013


"bag of words model" is the name of my new darkwave-funk band.
posted by poe at 8:12 PM on April 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why isn't there an efficient, usable, and well-designed beer and/or wine version of a site like Yelp or TripAdvisor?

I mean, it seems like an obvious draw. Liquor is product-centric (so theoretically monetizable), and there are tons of aficionados online who would presumably add content. Every time I buy a new craft beer or bottle of wine I'm curious about its reputation amongst other beer and wine drinkers.

Does such a site exist but is too weak to show up near the top of a search for a specific beer or wine? Is there a reason nobody has succeeded with a site like this? If we can get hundreds of people to write joke Amazon reviews for banana slicers, surely we can get people to write about whether a particular microbrew is any good or not.
posted by Sara C. at 8:15 PM on April 25, 2013


BeerAdvocate is your friend
posted by Ber at 8:17 PM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's kind of my point. BeerAdvocate is the best version of this I've found, and yet it still has a lot of weaknesses. And I've never found anything near that quality for wine, which is odd considering how well-established wine snobbery is.
posted by Sara C. at 8:27 PM on April 25, 2013


Why isn't there an efficient, usable, and well-designed beer and/or wine version of a site like Yelp or TripAdvisor?

Untappd. Four or five people I know are using this constantly. I haven't given in yet, though I'm kind of morbidly amused every time someone checks in to a beer.
posted by brennen at 8:42 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I totally want to try this out on my own, though given that the Two Hearted is my favorite beer of all time I guess I don't need to now?
posted by thecaddy at 8:43 PM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is awesome. But I doubt my beer preferences are transitive, which would muck this system up.
posted by painquale at 8:46 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I totally want to try this out on my own

I used to keep all my bottlecaps for a couple of months and make them into a big frequency graph on my kitchen table. This tended to be skewed some by partying with rednecks.
posted by brennen at 8:47 PM on April 25, 2013


OK, can someone explain the hoppy hop hopperson obsession to me? I mean, really! *grumble grumble*

It's basically the beer version of overly peaty Scotch, something a certain kind of "expert" can get all excited (and exclusive) about, but in truth, it just betrays an unfortunate lack of nuance in their palette.
posted by philip-random at 9:06 PM on April 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


"bag of words model" is the name of my new darkwave-funk band.

What an amazing coincidence. "Darkwave-funk band" is the name of my new language model for statistical natural language processing.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:08 PM on April 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Why isn't there an efficient, usable, and well-designed beer and/or wine version of a site like Yelp or TripAdvisor?"

Probably because of network effects and the predominance of BeerAdvocate, which has been around since 1996. It's certainly no worse from a design/usability perspective than Craigslist.
posted by PueExMachina at 9:16 PM on April 25, 2013


Beer space was completely explained by Niels Beer, who deduced Hefeweizen's Uncertainty Principle from ein Stein.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:23 PM on April 25, 2013 [17 favorites]


Wait, this is an article about an app that someone will perhaps one day finish?

:-(

Flagged!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:26 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was all ready to buy it for my husband, too. But the research is interesting anyhow. Things I learned from reading the post: I'm pretty sure I don't like beer.
posted by immlass at 9:44 PM on April 25, 2013


Hops are something some people like that other people can then hate on them for liking it because they don't. I mean seriously, I've not quite fanthomed why people sertiouly rag on eacother and be so friggen dismissive of one another because they like X and not Y. Yeah obviously those hoppy peoply are just posers and don't know shit. Personally I fucking hate largers. Every. Single. One. But you know, lotta great larger drinkers out there, I don't have to drink that bilge water, but you can quaff all you want.
Don't like the hops? Fantastic, it's big old world.
posted by edgeways at 9:48 PM on April 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


At first I thought it was only mapping things to a two dimensional field and I was going to be all "LAME!" but 12 dimensions.... This actually has some promise.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:05 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quasispace, Realspace, Hyperspace, Beerspace.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:10 PM on April 25, 2013


edgeways, the problem isn't that people like hops, it's that the beer market has shifted overwhelmingly in the direction of hoppy beers. If you go to a craft store or beer festival you'll have more than enough IPAs and other ales, but it's the rare brewery that puts out even one each of a stout and porter, let alone multiples of either. Lagers and pilsners are rarely made by crafters, so you're usually stuck with European imports or whatever (mostly flavorless) stuff the big guys put out. For people who don't like hops or are tired of hoppy beer, it's really frustrating to go to a beer festival or craft beer and see basically only one category of beer being explored.
posted by 23 at 10:13 PM on April 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


I more or less concur with 23's entire comment. I like hoppy beers in general, and my favorite American brews tend to be IPAs like Two Hearted and Hopluia. It's just that after the better part of a decade in Boulder County, I'm well over the whole hops-as-pissing-contest thing.

Lagers and pilsners are rarely made by crafters

Fortunately, I think this is starting to change. Brewers around here seem to be noticing they'll sell more beer if they have a flagship light beer that actually carries some flavor. I can think of three really decent pilsners made within 20 miles of my front door.
posted by brennen at 10:54 PM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Needs more Beersuperspace. or MiniBeersuperspace?
I might get this for me, but if I tried to have my boyfriend use it (I'm always trying to figure out what beer he should try next).. well, he'd just say what he always says about every beer ever-- "tastes like beer". Gah.
posted by nat at 10:55 PM on April 25, 2013


redbeard: "OK, can someone explain the hoppy hop hopperson obsession to me? I mean, really! *grumble grumble*"

Indeed. I'm pretty sure "IPA" actually stands for "Is Primarily Ass-juice." Ugh. Why, America? Why, when there are so many good beers in the world to emulate?

Of course, thankfully brennen is correct, I think. The IPA dominance is very, very slowly beginning to fade. I meet many more good American stouts and porters now than I used to. As usual, Colorado is ahead of the curve, and Left Hand's Milk Stout (for instance) is pretty damned good.

I am not going to hold my breath for a good American pilsner or (even less likely) doppelbock. Even when American breweries slap "Belgian ale" on a bottle it's likely to be quite overhopped (I'm looking at you, Green Flash Brewery).
posted by koeselitz at 11:25 PM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


well, he'd just say what he always says about every beer ever-- "tastes like beer". Gah.

So why keep hassling him? Get what you like, he'll drink it. If at some point he says "I don't want that" then hey, now he cares! Then you can start asking his opinion again.
posted by jacalata at 12:32 AM on April 26, 2013


My beer space is in 4 dimensions (counting time), stretching from my refrigerator to my table to my stomach, with an interesting kink near the fridge where I pour it into a glass.

What I really want is a recommendation engine. "If you liked Terminal Gravity IPA and Mayflower IPA, here's another IPA you may like."
posted by A dead Quaker at 12:37 AM on April 26, 2013


“Maltiness” This is a custom, heuristic measure that is a linear combination of the original gravity and final gravity measurements that seem to indicate how malty a beer is, a quantity that has no true definition in reality. Darker is more malty.

*facepalm*
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:28 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


OK, can someone explain the hoppy hop hopperson obsession to me?

Willy waving. Fortunately it seems to be on the turn. Unfortunately, it seems to be turning into saison season so expect more emphasis on extreeeme sourness.

But my uneducated guess as to why US microbrewers went for hops uber alles for so long is that a) it's easier to focus on a particular, easy to understand aspect of your beer to make it special b) push back against the unbelievable lightness of mass market beer c) the hoppier, IPA segment of beers was relatively underdeveloped compared to other beer styles so there was room for innovation. Don't underestimate that last point, as the US is a trendsetter there

As the US beergeek scene has matured, this trend to more hoppiness has abated somewhat; I had some very pleasant Southern Tier IPA and Double IPAs a while back that hit exactly the right note of citrony refreshment without being so hoppy you can't swallow it.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:19 AM on April 26, 2013


OK, can someone explain the hoppy hop hopperson obsession to me?

It's just the latest round in the craft-brew arms race. Before they got into this mo-hops-mo-better fetish, it was the high-gravity wars, with brewers seeing how high of an alcohol content they could brew, resulting in beers that one could barely finish without sliding under the table in a stupor. Both battles are silly and seem to ignore the craft part of "craft brewer".
posted by Thorzdad at 4:42 AM on April 26, 2013


I would love, really love, a "Pandora for beer." Pandora is sometimes eerily good at what it does--so much so that when I'm trying to learn an unfamiliar-to-me genre (for stylistic mimicry), I'll just stick one, or at most two, bands into a Pandora station. Within a half hour or so it's pretty easy to figure out what makes the style sound like itself.

Sure, we have beer styles, where you figure the IPAs are like so, and the porters like so, but it'd be super dope to get a little more fine-grained.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:49 AM on April 26, 2013


Wouldn't Pandora for beers just be a good bartender on a slow night?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:14 AM on April 26, 2013


Sure, but not everybody has access to a good bartender, even at bars with otherwise well-curated taps. Which is a shanda, of course, but such is the state of the pub.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:48 AM on April 26, 2013


For those seeking a "session" beer that is neither hoppy or light in flavor, Bell's Amber is the antidote.
posted by Ber at 6:10 AM on April 26, 2013


I've been in a bad beer mood for months, ever since New Glarus made Fat Squirrel a seasonal. That was my standby! Still trying to find a good replacement nut brown ale.
posted by echo target at 6:50 AM on April 26, 2013


Sara C.: Is there a reason nobody has succeeded with a site like this?

In 2006 I started using some wine-tracking website ... I've been trying to think of the site name and just now recalled that it was Cork'd, which is apparently shut down as of 2011 or so. Anyway, I quickly grew tired of the site because referencing a particular bottle was a nightmare. Maybe I'm drinking Elk Cove Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2003 and I see that someone has already added that wine, but they've added it as "elk cove willamette valley pinot noir 2003". I also see someone else added "Elk Cove Pinot Noir Willamete Valley 2003" and that's a little closer, but has the typo. To which one do I add my review, or do I actually write the bottle name correctly and create a third instance of something that should all be one item?

Compound this with the fact that most wine is vintage-specific and you're looking at this problem happening every year, forever.

I realize that beer labels aren't usually as complex as the worst German wine label like "Jakoby Mathy Kinheimer Hubertslay Riesling Spatlese Goldkapsel 2011" or whatever, and that the repeating vintage wouldn't be an issue in most cases. I also know that Cork'd could have done more, programming-wise, to attempt matching when someone chose to add a bottle, maybe give them more of a "We see a bottle already added that looks similar to what you're typing ..." message.

Maybe some of the new beer sites linked above have done a better job of allowing the site admins to curate / merge content, to prevent duplicate records, encourage proper naming nomenclature, etc. I wouldn't know, as beer and I broke up a long time ago and rarely see each other anymore.
posted by komara at 7:12 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm intrigued by the apparent lacuna in beer-space between the ‘Belgian Strong (Dark)’ and ‘Stout’ regions, as this is a place I would enjoy spending some time: is it some unexplored Terra Incognita? Or the home of some beery equivalent to Area 51?
posted by misteraitch at 7:18 AM on April 26, 2013


I've made a couple of abortive efforts at something like this for wine, and was completely overwhelmed by how much shittier the data was (go read the ratings over at cellartracker some time, and try to make sense of a data set where the range is theoretically 0-100 but is actually 88.5-91.5, and oh by the way 90% of the entries have zero ratings), and how stupefyingly difficult it was to try to normalize user ratings. This dude has done a hell of a thing, and I wish him luck with the last 3% of development of the app.
posted by Mayor West at 7:18 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Like a Canadian snowbird returning from a winter in Florida, I will soon begin my annual migration from the warm land of Stout to the cool refreshing northern waterways of Wheat.
posted by Kabanos at 7:29 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Compound this with the fact that most wine is vintage-specific and you're looking at this problem happening every year, forever.

But, why? Other kinds of review sites don't seem to have this problem. I've seen a couple of duplicates on Yelp over the years, but it's not a big concern. I get that wines have longer and more complicated names, but there must be a solution to this.

(BTW a friend of mine was part of the Cork'd development team, which is how I started asking myself this question.)
posted by Sara C. at 7:42 AM on April 26, 2013


I'd love to see a wine version of this app. It doesn't use ratings as the data set; it uses keywords, and wine descriptions are much more florid and cryptic to me. It'd be great to do a few wine comparison taste tests and then have a machine tell me that I like wines that are described as mushroomy and foxy, because those words mean very little to me right now.
posted by painquale at 8:19 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Untappd. Four or five people I know are using this constantly. I haven't given in yet, though I'm kind of morbidly amused every time someone checks in to a beer.

I have unfollowed at least one friend on Twitter whose entire feed consisted of auto-tweets from this thing. It spams up Facebook too. Maybe this spew can be turned off, and maybe the service is good for the folks actually using it, but it has turned me away from checking it out.
posted by exogenous at 8:26 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not going to hold my breath for a good American pilsner or (even less likely) doppelbock.

American style pilsner or American made pilsner? Because I hear you on the first and have suggestions for the second.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:30 AM on April 26, 2013


"I like wines that are described as mushroomy and foxy"

Nurse, this user needs 750ml of Vitis vinifera, stat. Patient has potentially high levels of Vitis labrusca in their system.
posted by komara at 8:32 AM on April 26, 2013


The FB/Twitter Untappd spew can be turned off, and one can create an Untappd account without linking it to those (there are some MeFites on Untappd, btw).

Plenty of people are still making hop bombs, but it seems to me like farmhouse/saison and wild yeast and estate and stuff like that are kind of the new fashionable craft beer hotness these days.
posted by box at 8:35 AM on April 26, 2013


Or you could go with hops and funk - I plan to make a version of this IPA with Brettanomyces later this summer.
posted by exogenous at 9:23 AM on April 26, 2013


It'd be great to do a few wine comparison taste tests and then have a machine tell me that I like wines that are described as mushroomy and foxy, because those words mean very little to me right now.

Or even just "you seem to like whites that are crisp, floral, and citrusy -- here's an un-oaked Chardonnay that will change everything you thought you knew about the world."

No need to even get into the more baroque terms.
posted by Sara C. at 9:45 AM on April 26, 2013


elsietheeel: “American style pilsner or American made pilsner? Because I hear you on the first and have suggestions for the second.”

Both, but in particular the American made pilsner, as, er, I've had American style pilsners that weren't really... pilsnery.
posted by koeselitz at 10:57 AM on April 26, 2013


My two favorite American made pilsners (both German style) are:

North Coast Brewing Scrimshaw pilsner

And Trumer Pils, a 400 year old Austrian beer that is now also brewed in Berkeley for the North American market.

Also googling American style pilsner gets interesting beer geek articles about the death and revival of the style. Well... revival might be a bit optimistic. Fingers crossed!
posted by elsietheeel at 11:12 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I still think Victory's Prima Pils is one of the best pilsners in the world. Sixpoint's The Crisp ain't half bad either. Both might be a bit hoppier than strictly necessary, but I dig them.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:14 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts are the new overhopped IPA.
posted by schyler523 at 3:49 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Update! This interview with Kevin Jamieson says the completed app is due out at the end of June! Neat.
posted by clavicle at 9:50 AM on May 20, 2013


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