Craft Beer Drinkin’ Data

On Friday, I logged my 500th unique on the beer discovery app, Untappd. The beer I chose for the occasion was CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout), one of the most sought-after, and highly-rated beers in the world right now from Founders Brewing. I was able to share a bomber of it with my coworkers and it was delicious.

500th Check-inMy 500th unique check-in with Canadian Breakfast Stout

I love the variety, surprise, and unique experience of trying new brews. If you told me I would say that when I was in my mid-twenties, I would have laughed. Up to that point in my life, I hated beer. My only exposure to it was the light, macro-brewed pilsners that I’m still not fond of today. It was around that time, that friends started introducing me to beers that they really enjoyed. My buddy Russ loved him some Amber Bock. Another colleague of mine was a huge fan of Guinness and as I began to try other styles, my curiosity about and enjoyment of beer grew.

In 2009, I started attempting to keep track of the beers I tried with the beta launch of app called 97 Bottles. After about a year, that app folded and I lost all my data. Next, I tried another app that a friend created called NextPint. When NextPint shut down as well in late 2012, I started relying on Untappd. I can easily tell stories about some of the most memorable beers I’ve had over the last years, but by “checking-in”, I’ve generated quite a bit of data. Thanks to the export functionality of Untappd, I was able to analyze that data, reflect on my beer history and look for interesting patterns.

One thing I was particularly interested in was beer types. I love to try new things, but I also have some favorite styles that I keep gravitating toward when I’m looking at a menu or browsing a bottle shop. Of my 500 unique beers, 98 distinct beer types are represented. Those 98 types can be distilled down to 50 broad styles. Here’s a pie chart showing the distribution of the styles I’ve logged.

I can’t say I’m terribly surprised to see that ½ of the 500 beers were IPAs, Stouts, and Porters.

Another bit of data I was curious about was my personal ratings. I’ve always been pretty generous with my star ratings, but it was interesting to see how often I rate beers between 4 and 4½ stars.

I’ve certainly come across some beers over the last 5 years that I did not like. Somehow though, the lowest rating I’ve given is 1½ stars and I’ve only rated 24 beers at 3 stars or less. I guess it’s safe to say that those are beers I do not personally recommend. On the positive side of the bell, I gave 121 beers 4½ stars or higher and a select 40 earned a rating of 4¾ – 5 stars. I took a look through those and hand-picked 20 of my all-time favorites. Because the ratings are so close, it’s safe to say I love all of these beers, so I’ve sorted them by style.

Canadian Breakfast Stout should probably be on this list as well, but I figured I’d leave it off since I already mentioned it. The obvious theme between CBS and most of the selections above is the word “double” or “imperial” in the beer type. This typically means the beer is higher in alcohol (between 8% to 12% ABV) but also indicates that it’s a bolder, more intense version of the style. Usually that’s a wonderful thing, but sometimes it highlights flavors you might not appreciate or makes it too boozy to enjoy. Regardless, of all the beers I’ve logged, if it was an imperial, double, or triple, I rarely gave it less than 3½ stars.

A map of Southeastern Breweries from beermapping.com.

To me, one of the most beautiful things about craft beer is the geographic nature of the experience. The majority of the beers I’ve logged were purchased where I lived at the time – either in Atlanta or Orlando. Some of them are hyper-local or premise, meaning they’re only available at a brewery or brew pub. Some beers are only available on tap within a town or city; or are distributed, but just within their home state. Larger craft breweries have the ability to sell a few of their flagship beers across state lines and eventually gain the ability to distribute nationally. Because of this concentric pattern of availability, a craft beer fan who lives outside of Georgia or Florida will have a completely different list of favorites than mine, even if we share a similar taste in beer styles.

Over the last year alone, I’ve checked in to over 180 different beers. It’s been an exciting journey so far but there are a lot more beers out there to discover and there’s new craft beers and breweries popping up every day. If you love craft beer as well, leave a comment with some of your favorites so I can put them on my list to look for in 2018. Cheers! 🍻

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