Upcoming Apps: Beer Mapper

droppedImageOne of the main reasons that Mike and I started the podcast was because we felt that getting into the craft beer revolution can be too complicated or daunting of a task.  That expecting a novice to understand how to navigate the countless beers, plethora of styles, and limitless combinations of ingredients to find a beer that they thoroughly enjoy without research is an impossible expectation.

A large part of the podcast is devoted to helping novice drinkers understand the terminology, get familiar with styles, and experience tastings, even if vicariously.  All this to help novices to discover beers that fit their specific palate before giving up that all beer is terrible.

PhD student at the University of Wisconsin, Kevin Jamieson, is using his skills and research in machine learning to automate the exploration of beers via an upcoming iPad app called, BeerMapper.

From his website the here is a solid description of what Beer Mapper is attempting to do:

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.”

This sounds awesome to me, especially if it can be tied into serious suggestions based not on people giving similar ratings but based on actual flavor ratings and ingredients.

Kevin Jamieson’s website offers a ton of information for how the algorithms picks recommendations and determines preferences based solely on a few pairs that get refined with more input.  If you are an algorithm or statistical nerd I would recommend giving it a read.

Sadly the application isn’t quite ready for the app store yet as the final kinks (and hopefully UX design) are being ironed out.  But once it is out the Blind Tiger podcast will eagerly get their hands on a copy to give you a first hand look.

It would be truly amazing to have an application that gives you truly personalized recommendations of beers in your area (whether local or while traveling) to end the slightly better than “stab in the dark” way of beer selection that enthusiasts have to experience now.