Untappd: The Social Drinking App Every Beer Drinker Needs

If you’re a craft beer drinker, you’re probably an Untappd user. If you aren’t familiar, Untappd is an app that allows you to “check-in” to your beers and share what you’re drinking with your friends. You can rate your beers and see how others have rated it. Best of all, you earn badges based on your beer prowess. There are a ton of badges and some of them can be very challenging (and exciting) to win. It gamifies beer drinking, probably the last thing on earth that needed more gamification.

We use Untappd as often as we drink beer. For my competitive family, it’s fun to compare badges and unique beers. It’s become as ubiquitous as Facebook for social drink networking. And I draw the comparison to Facebook purposely here: it is the most robust, friend-filled and feature packed beer app. But it does not have all the features we would want or need. 

Our first complaint is the interface. The menu icons force us to reteach ourselves how to navigate the app. It’s not intuitive. We can chalk this up to the fact that, there aren’t universal icons for “profile” and “notifications”, but if an app is going to make up their own, they should probably label them, at least for awhile. It’s kind of like how brands who have been around awhile, like Starbucks and Target, are now dropping the names from their graphical logos, except this unlabelling of icons is unearned. 

Now, lest you think I’m an idiot, compare the interface to Instagram. While I don’t hold up Instagram as the bastion of perfect apps, it is an immensely popular one, and it’s use can be described as is intuitive. More importantly, note the top right corner icon, what is clearly an inbox. When you click this, you are taken to your direct Instagram messages. On Untappd, your notifications are under a very similar inbox icon. Again, I’m not holding up Instagram as a model, but understand the confusion when two apps I use frequently use the same icon for two different meanings. Unintuitive.

One thing Untappd does incredibly well is search. The beer database is large, and the search is fast. A feature I would like to see is a label search, similar to the way many wine apps search. Simply take a picture of the bottle label, and the app fills in the information for you. Maybe one day.

The other thing that Untappd does really well is challenge you to try new beers. There are so many badges based on styles, regions, times of day, location, et cetera. You can earn not-so-subtle badges for checking into the same beer too many times, and a lot of praise for a high number of unique beers. In addition, they recommend a lot of brews based on what you’re checking into, which is great. 

Nicole St. Germain

Nicole St. Germain is Creative Director of St. Germain Cellars, a craft beer snob, and a wine novice. Her cocktail of choice is anything with St-Germain liqueur.