The Beer Judge Certification Program promotes beer literacy and appreciation through the education and certification of beer advocacy judges. Any plebe can name a few standard styles of beer—pilsner, stout, pale ale, bock—but there are actually 23 official style categories, each one with several subcategories. Can you name them all? Bet you can’t! The BJCP app helps you hone your knowledge of what characteristics each style of beer should have regarding color, head, mouthfeel, aroma and super specific taste characteristics like diacetyl (buttery or toffee-like), dimethyl sulfide (cooked corn), and acetaldehyde (green apples). You can also learn the history and ingredients for each beer style along with commercial examples. For instance, did you know that beloved Texas beer Shiner Bock is totally not a bock? It’s considered a Dark American Lager. Boom. Drop that knowledge bomb at your next party.
Pintley (free, 5 ratings averaging 4 stars)
Like Netflix for beer! Rate beers to get recommendations, so the next time you’re drawing a blank at the pub, you can make an informed decision. You can type up notes on various styles and specific beers, and get meticulous with ratings on appearance, aroma, taste, texture and more. You can also type in the name of any beer and get a short summary of it, as well as read other users’ reviews. Couple Pintley with your BJCP app, and you’re an unstoppable aficionado, well on your way to becoming a cicerone. Pintley’s one shortfall: unlike Netflix, you can’t look up a specific beer and get your recommended rating based on your previous reviews. That’s an easy fix, so hopefully it won’t be too long before they add that feature.
BeerCloud (free, 32 ratings averaging 3 stars)
Using the concept of cloud computing, BeerCloud compiles a shitload of data to bring you the best in beer knowledge from all angles. Scan the barcode on a bottle of beer and get a thorough product description and review. Search through over 2,800 beers in GreatBrewers.com‘s database, track down a specific beer that’s been eluding you using the GPS device on your phone, and find the perfect beer pairing to accompany your meal, selecting from a list of over 250 foods. Solidly rad app.
Brew Pal ($0.99, 59 ratings averaging 4.5 stars)
For the hands-on type looking to enhance your beer experience through homebrewing, this app helps you formulate the perfect zymurgic recipe. Brew Pal estimates alcohol content, water quantities, hopping rates and color. You can start out comparing your recipe to the BJCP guidelines, and wrap up by learning the carbonation rates for a specific style when it’s time for you to bottle or keg your tasty brew. Later, just kick back and enjoy the hopped fruit of your labor, knowing there’s a much smaller chance of flavor funk with the right calculations.
Find Craft Beer ($0.99, 181 ratings averaging 4 stars)
For those among us who consider beer appreciation more of a spectator sport, Find Craft Beer helps us spectate with discernment. True, BeerCloud already uses the GPS on your phone to locate beer, but that’s all FCB does and thus, it does it better. You can search through a database of brewpubs, bars, beer stores, breweries and homebrew shops, or limit your search to only the locations that interest you. You can search within a designated distance, sort by ratings or proximity, submit reviews and pics, and link to the beermapping.com website for location reviews.
Lone Star Puzzle Cap (free, 50 ratings averaging 4 stars)
Just for funsies and for cheaters. We can’t exist solely on superior, esoteric brews. We would if we could, but the beer selection in many bars takes the decision out of our hands. Next time you’re downing a Lone Star at a table full of people torturously poring over the indecipherable pictogram puzzle, scam all your friends by surreptitiously checking the decoder on your phone. Good news: you’re a genius, and they owe you a beer. Bad news: it’s a Lone Star.
So go, tiny drinker! Drink like the wind! Be that jackass at the bar who never looks up from his phone!