4pm is Officially Beer O’Clock with Untappd CEO Greg Avola

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On the Hop Forward Podcast this week we talk with Greg Avola, CEO of the popular beer check-in app, Untappd, which celebrates its 10th birthday this week, discussing everything from big data, review culture and why 4pm is officially Beer O’Clock.

Twelve years ago, my wife and I started a list that we stuck to our fridge called ‘Beers We Have Known and Loved’.

The idea was simple: for every beer we’d purchased from The Dram Shop, a small independent retailer of microbrewed beers, fine wines and world whiskies, we’d write down the name of the beer, a comment and rate the beer out of 10.

Needless to say, that piece of paper has long disappeared but the memory of one particular German beer remains etched on my mind over a decade on.

Simply called Beer Rauchen, or ‘Smoke Beer’ in English, this black liquid did not have the sublime subtle smoked-sausage-meets-breakfast-ceral taste often associated with the style, but rather – as my scathing review testified – ‘tastes like fag ash!’ 0/10.

You could argue that this humble lined-sheet of A4 was a precursor to websites such as RateBeer or apps such as Untappd.

The idea of keeping a log of things you love – or, in this case, loathe – isn’t new. Beer tickers throughout the years have journal after journal entries containing reviews of the latest guest ale down the local, beers revered at festivals and casual comments from evenings in by the fire on a cold winter’s night with a bottle of something dark and heartwarming.

In the privacy of, to keep such a record of my personal opinions is neither here nor there. But how does that translate in the digital age where reviews are open to interpretation, public for all to see, and grant direct access and dialog to the producers themselves?

These are questions Greg Avola, CEO of Untappd, has had to wrestle with for the last ten years.

Untappd is an app that allows users to keep track of their beers and allows for open conversations surrounding those check-ins, familiar to most brewers and beer fans alike for a variety of reasons.

I’ve yet to meet a brewer who hasn’t felt the eurphic hit as a shot of dopamine pulses through their veins due to a string of positive reviews, and then – in the next instance – has been hit in the gut by a punchy offhand comment that seems unjustified on every level.

Whatever your relationship with Untappd, there’s no denying that it does what it does very well and is collecting vast amounts of data regarding worldwide beer trends, which will prove invaluable over the coming months and years.

And who hasn’t enjoyed reading some of the worst reviews from keyboard warriors and armchair detectives as featured on the Worst Beer Blog.

In honour of Untappd turning 10, we’ve introduced a little feature we think you’ll enjoy…!

Stay tuned.


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