We’re all a bunch of Untappd badge whores

Posted: April 17, 2014 by cjax33 in News, Random Stuff

We, the great beer-loving human collective, spend way too much time buried in our smart phones. Look around the next time you’re at a brewery or taproom, especially during quieter times, and count the number of people texting, emailing, or playing with their various apps. Once upon a time, some very smart people noticed this, and thus they created an app for beer lovers. And now? We’re all a bunch of stinking addicts to Untappd.

The collection of truly random beers for our latest Untappd badge whore night.

The collection of truly random beers for our latest Untappd badge whore night.

Yes, I know, you’re downright shocked that seven people who have a website about beer would be addicted to an app that deals with beer. If you have somehow avoided the whole Untappd phenomenon, here’s the basic primer. Untappd allows you to check in to the beers you drink. It then stores this information. In that respect, it can invaluable for a beer writer. “Hey, did you ever try this imperial stout?” “Let me see … oh, yeah, I had it before. I gave it four stars. You should definitely order that.”

But Untappd is not just a reference guide to the beers you have consumed over the years. Oh, no, it’s something far more nefarious. It’s about the badges. Yes, we need stinkin’ badges. Badges are how Untappd “rewards” you for your (hopefully) responsible drinking. The badges generally work where if you drink a certain beer so many times, you get a badge. Or if you drink at a certain establishment, you can get a badge. Or on a holiday, you can get a badge. There’s badges galore. And because we’re human, which means we’re competitive about the silliest things, we now compete for badge accumulation.

I know, it’s childish and potentially dangerous if you go out and overdo it at a taproom. Thus, in our genius, we’ve created badge whore nights. Badge whore nights basically involve everyone going to a beer store like Jubilation or Total Wine, making a bunch of mixed sixers, and bringing them to someone’s house while putting our car keys away. That’s exactly what Franz Solo, Mrs. Solo, and I did on Wednesday night after I finished up with the Isotopes game. During the day we loaded up on random beers and late at night, with Beerfest playing in the background, we went badge hunting. For the record, I picked up four badges (Das Boot Level 3, Rising Sun, Lager Jack Level 10, Heffenista Level 2).

So to get into these crazy badges a little more, they are generally divided into three categories. Under “Beer” are 57 separate badges. Most are counting badges, as in once you get to five beers defined under a single category, you get a badge, like I Believe in IPA. You can level these badges up to 10, which means 50 distinct beers in that category. Other badges under beer are a little easier to get, requiring sometimes only one or three beers. These badges cannot be leveled up, so we generally call them “one and done” badges. The final major type under this category are the badges that deal with your overall accumulation of distinct beers. You get badges at one beer, 50 beers, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2500.

Be forewarned, if you do an Untappd badge whore night and you want to get those pesky foreign beer badges, it can get expensive.

Be forewarned, if you do an Untappd badge whore night and you want to get those pesky foreign beer badges like Das Boot (German beers, obviously), it can get expensive.

Under the “Location” category are badges that generally deal with where you’re drinking. Some are easy to get, requiring just a single beer of any type. Franz Solo and Mrs. Solo, for instance, picked up the Here Comes the Brew and Ahoy, Matey! badges while at a cousin’s wedding in Hawaii. There are some other badges that require multiple beers and/or multiple visits to a place. Last Call requires three beers after 1 a.m. at a bar or taproom. Brew Crew requires three check-ins at different bars in the same night. Tough ones include The Regular, where you need 15 check-ins at the same place in a calendar month (yes, you can get a sampler tray and check into each beer, which will add up). There are also badges in this category that level up, like Brew Traveler (different states/countries), Find the Source (breweries themselves), Taste the Music (venues categorized as music, like Launchpad and Low Spirits here in ABQ), and Tailgater (sports arenas/stadiums).

The final category is “Special.” These badges are for holidays, where say you drink any beer on St. Patrick’s Day or Halloween or 4th of July, you get a badge. There are also some badges promoted by various breweries, like “drink our new IPA between the following days and you’ll get a badge.” Supposedly, there will even be a badge for ABQ Beer Week in May. Which would be unbelievably awesome, of course.

Now, as with anything involving beer, there are some debates over proper Untappd etiquette. If someone creates an Untappd and suddenly checks into the last 100 beers they remember having over the previous few months, that’s considered a major faux pas. You are sometimes granted a 24-hour window in which to check in, but generally you’re not allowed to check into a specific place unless you are still there. For instance, let’s say you go out and do a pub crawl on your birthday. Stopping to check in to every beer you drink throughout the night will slow you down. This can also work for beer festivals. One downside of Untappd is that it is a battery-draining app, so if you go to a beer festival and have 30-40 samples and want to check them all off, it’s generally considered OK to wait until you get home.

Then there is the great debate over what constitutes a check-in-worthy consumption. Some say you have to drink a full pint/bottle. Others say a standard sample from a brewery/bar works. Some will even take a small sip and say that counts. It is generally up to the individual, with plenty of influence from your friends who are on Untappd. The Brew Crew usually goes with the 24-hour rule and the samplers-count rule. Let’s face it, most of us do not like Sours, not enough to drink a full pint. But a swallow or two counts in our book.

We expect a large number of you who follow us regularly probably already have Untappd on your phones. For those who don’t, you should get it if the app sounds like fun. If it sounds like too much work, or you’re worried it might push you to drink too much when you’re out and about, then it’s OK if you don’t sign up. Among the Crew, I would say that Franz Solo, Mrs. Solo, and I tend to be the most active on Untappd. Brandon checks in a fair amount. Shilling (who’s currently working the graveyard shift) and E-Rock (who’s forgetful) check in less frequently. We’ve tried, and failed, to get Porter Pounder to join. He’s just weird like that.

Anyway, here are our Untappd names, plus I’m including our current (as of Thursday afternoon) numbers on distinct beers and badges. You can “friend” us on Untappd (not unlike Facebook, but with no whiny posts about boy/girl trouble, cat videos, or stupid game invitations). Several readers already have, and we can compare notes on the beers we drink and the breweries we visit. Heck, oftentimes you can use it to find out where we are drinking on a given day. We never mind interacting with our readers when it comes to talking about beer.

Without further adieu, here’s us:

  • Stoutmeister 688 distinct beers, 144 badges
  • Ffsturm (Franz Solo) 607 distinct beers, 141 badges
  • JSturm (Mrs. Solo) 410 distinct beers, 110 badges
  • Cryptogrind (Brandon) 218 distinct beers, 76 badges
  • Jmkidd (Shilling) 133 distinct beers, 45 badges
  • Erocktheorchestra (E-Rock) 51 distinct beers, 30 badges (I told you he forgets to check in all the time)

If any of you have some Untappd stories you’d like to share, email them to us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com. Or just tell us in person if you see us out and about.

* * * *

Some updates on our upcoming stories. Brandon will have the full recap of brewing his latest beer, a coffee chocolate porter, in a Brewology post that should be ready Friday. Also on Friday, Franz Solo and I will be meeting with the folks over at the new Pi Brewing Co. We should have the story up Monday. This coming Tuesday I will trek up to Santa Fe to interview new Blue Corn brewer James Warren. That story will run either that day or Wednesday afternoon. By the end of next week I hope to talk to the folks at the Los Alamos Beer Co-op and get their story out there. And if all goes well with our schedules, the Crew will be interviewing Second Street brewer Rod Tweet on April 26. The beer news never stops, and thankfully, neither do we.


— Stoutmeister

  1. Good stuff. After joining Untappd just a month ago, it’s already right up there with Fantasy Football as an addictively more entertaining way to stay in touch with friends and family. My brothers, who got me hooked on the app after they had been users for several months, regularly taunt me with their superior check-in and distinct beer counts, but I share a weekly update to compare our badge to beer ratios. http://www.badgeunlock.com/untappd-badge-list/ was a key find. 🙂

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