App Review: Beer Citizen

Those looking for an alternative to Beer Advocate or Untappd, a new beer rating app called “Beer Citizen” is available for Android and iOS. It features the ability to find and rate beers that you imbibe and includes the general coating of social features e.g. the ability to add your location, check out who is drinking what around you, and then post it all to your twitter delight.

Search a beer, such as Troegs Sunshine Pils, and it will come up on your screen with a picture and some ratings, including an overall rating as well as what you personally thought about it. You can then scroll through details of the beer including ABV, Similar beers, various reviews, and the beers activity among the user base. Since the app is still young and in beta, no similar beers were offered, and details were suspect as the ABV was listed higher than what both untappd and the beers own bottle suggested it was.

Positives: The ability to really nail down what you like about the beer. The ratings options include main categories such as appearance and mouthfeel, with nested categories within each of those. You can even add a category that you feel is important if it is not already listed. Want to get really specific about the head of your beer, such as how creamy it is? Go for it (if you’re into that sort of thing). These categories including the overall score are on a 0-100 sliding scale with 1 point gradations. This is much more specific than untappd’s 0-5 star scale that only recently allowed you to add half stars (and even this is only allowed on the mobile site and not the main website). The app is also very snappy. I downloaded the Beer Advocate app awhile back but quickly uninstalled it as it was sluggish from the get go. It also did not crash once on me, something I wish I could say about untappd, even now.

Negatives: Interface, interface, interface. Untappd wasnt pretty when it came out either, but Beer Citizen still feels very immature. The splash screen uses simple, uninspired icons on an ugly wood paneling background. Pictures are available but are very tiny and unless you want to go blind will require a tap to “embiggen”. The flow of the interface is generally simple to figure out with some caveats. To follow a beer or brewery took a few moments as there are menu and ribbon buttons galore. There is also nothing really novel to draw someone in. There is no badge system that untappd employs, so drinking and meticulously rating the beer is going to have to be its own reward. Location settings also did not work for me, but I know I have that problem with untappd, so it could be a phone/carrier issue.

Overall: If you are already a user of untappd, or similar beer rating app, you wont find anything new here. in fact, it feels almost too familiar, offering nothing new outside of another way of being really pretentious about the beer you are drinking in the form of an overly detailed rating system.  It’s also butt ugly, which will hopefully change once all the mechanics are worked out, which as of right now are looking pretty solid.

Rating: (A sadly unspecific) 2/5