2018: My year in beer

Untappd is yet another social network, this one for beer drinkers, and I have been on here for a while. Yesterday they emailed me an overview of my year in beer: what I’ve been drinking and where I’ve been drinking it. It’s interesting, to me at least.

But first a disclaimer. I don’t check in every beer I drink — this is especially true if we go out and I’m drinking the same beer at the same location, in which case one check in can account for several beers. It’s also true that there are occasions when looking at an app on my phone would be inappropriate. So I don’t.

On the other hand, I do try to check in any beers that I haven’t tried before, mainly so that I can keep track of what I did or didn’t like when I find myself looking at the same beer six months later.

Consequently, Untappd will overstate the number of new beers I have tried and understate the numbers of beers that I know I like. And this is apparent in the results.

Normally, I prefer darker beers (Stouts, Belgian Dubbels, Dark Ales) but will happily switch to IPAs when summer rolls around and I want something a bit more refreshing after a day in the garden.

If asked, I would tell you that my preferred beers are Chimay Blauw, Westmalle Donker and Tongerlo Donker and, in summer, I tend to drink St. Martin’s IPA unless I can get hold of Bass Pale Ale. According to Untappd, however, I have worked my way through 18 unique beers from 16 breweries representing 14 dinstinct styles. I had no idea my drinking was so varied.

From these, however, Untappd thinks that my preference is for Belgian strong golden ale, specifically Duvel. Tellingly, my most checked in location is the Middle-Eastern restaurant from which I buy takeaway pizzas every Wednesday.

Duvel is my most checked in beer and, of the rest of my top five check ins, Westmalle, Chimay and Tngerlo occupy positions two, four and five respectively. I suspect the Chimay Blauw would rank higher if more bars and (especially) restaurants sold it.

I was a bit surprised to see Palm Special ranked third most checked in beer until I noticed that the nearby cinema is my third most checked in location. Guess what they sell.

The rest of my check in locations are a variety of restaurants and bars and I was mildly amused to note that the app has decided that England and Wales are a single country.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this but, based on the information I have given it, Untappd thinks that I do most of my drinking when sitting alone and waiting for a pizza.

If nothing else, this does show how easy it is to skew a data set and why, when you see a survey, it’s always worth asking about how the data was gathered and what methodology was used to analyse it. And if the survey relies on self-reporting of data, you can be sure that the errors and omissions will be glaring.

And finally, if you are on Untappd, drop by and say hello.