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Taplister Links Up with RateBeer.com

Taplister app with RateBeer rating featureWe’ve been busy here at Taplister Labs.  There has been a great deal of work going on behind the scenes to improve the database, web site, and mobile apps.  One of big goals of the last year has been to provide more information about the beers in a given tap list.  All the tools we build here are driven by our passion for great beer.  And one thing I wanted was a way to make it easier to pick a great beer from a large tap list.  In the Pacific Northwest, we are blessed with some great beer halls that have mammoth tap lists of 50 or more beers.  It’s really tough to decide what to order sometimes, especially when most of the beers on tap are ones you haven’t already tried.  I wanted a way to quickly narrow that down to a handful of beers I would probably like a lot.  This is where RateBeer.com comes in.  They have lots of information about a lot of beers (over 105,000 beers!).  So our goal has been to easily get the style, Alcohol by volume (ABV), rating, and description for a beer, or a list of beers in a tap list.

As our site and database have grown, so has the problem of multiple entries for the same beer.  We’ve had a persistent problem of the same beer being spelled out in different ways such that when a user types in a beer to search for, they may not see all the bars that are serving it.  What we needed was a definitive list of beer names, and so when the user starts typing in the name on the web site or mobile app, the text completion pops up and shows them only beers that link to the RateBeer data.

We approached Joe Tucker at RateBeer.com, and he granted us access to their API (Application Programming Interface) so we could pull data from their massive database from our web site and mobile apps.  We did a lot of work on our server, on the web site, and particularly on the Taplister iPhone app.  We worked with local developer Don Park to add all the beers from RateBeer.com to the Taplister database and be able to link to their rating and other information on RateBeer.com.  We changed the text completion on the web site and the Taplister iPhone app to just use the RateBeer names so when you add a beer, it will have access to its data on RateBeer.com.

The Taplister app for iPhone v1.1, which is being reviewed by Apple as I write this, now works with RateBeer.com to load more information that is displayed in the tap list.  The app is free and will load the beer style and ABV for all the beers that are in the RateBeer database.  The new version also allows you to upgrade to paid features.  The first paid feature is the ability to view the beer ratings and descriptions that are loaded from RateBeer.com.  The ratings show up in the tap list.  The rating and commercial description show up in the beer’s detail view when you select that beer in the tap list.  This really helps picking that next great beer after you’ve narrowed down your choices to the style and ABV you’re looking for.  We worked REALLY hard for this feature, and we’re really excited about it.

We have also added RateBeer links to the web site.  When you go to a bar’s page, the tap list will have an “RB” link after the beer name if that’s one of the beer’s in RateBeer’s database.  Click on that link to go to RateBeer.com’s page for that beer, which has detailed rating information, brewery link, style, ABV, and user reviews.  We also added a link to the appropriate beer page on RateBeer.com on our beer pages, if that beer is listed on RateBeer.  We are planning on improving the look of the web site and hope to add ABV and style info from RateBeer, but it requires changes on their server so we’ll have to wait till then.

We want to stress the importance of using the text completion to select beers from the RateBeer list.  Not only does the text completion save a LOT of typing, but it will link beers to ratings and descriptions, and make the beer search work better.  This is available to bar owners (logged in with their bar’s Twitter ID), and Taplister Ambassadors when they click on “edit tap list” on a bar’s page.  And text completion is also on the Taplister iPhone app when you tap “Edit Tap List” on the tap list view and login using your Twitter ID.  Note: you need to have logged into Taplister.com with this Twitter ID before using it to login to the app.  If the beer you are adding is not listed on RateBeer, you can still type it out and add it on Taplister, it just won’t have a rating.  If a brewery is adding new beers, they should add them to RateBeer.com first.  Taplister.com updates beers from RateBeer.com once an hour, and can then show them when the text completion pops up.  We are looking at opening up tap list editing to all logged in users on the web site in the future.

The methods for editing taps listed above are the best way for bars to update their own taps and get those awesome RateBeer links.  Make sure your local bars know about Taplister, and these new tools.

Taplister works best when craft beer fans tell their friends about it and get more bars using it.  We are now in over 30 cities around the US, and adding more all the time.  Please help us get the word out, and take a moment to make sure the tap lists are up to date when you’re out having a beer.  The beer community will thank you.

16 Comments

  1. This looks and sounds like a match made in beer heaven. Look forward to seeing it in use!

  2. Nice app!

    Please note, there’s an ugly bug when entering a taplist entry. If you mistype and hit the backspace key, the app crashes. Using the wipe-the-entry “X” button at the top works fine . . . but means you have to start all over.

  3. I tracked down and destroyed this bug and submitted a v1.2 release to Apple. Hopefully, it will be up soon.

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