Beer Mapper: An experimental app to find the right beer for you

Posted to Software  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

Kevin Jamieson, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, put his work in active ranking into practice. The experimental app is called Beer Mapper.

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.”

Around 10,000 beers with at least 50 reviews on RateBeer were used as the foundation of the recommendation system. The reviews were reduced to just the individual words and counts, which gives sort of a profile for each beer (or a “weighted bag of words”). You rate beers, and the system tries to find profiles that are mathematically most similar.

Two caveats. The first is that it looks like the app just gives you a heat map of the styles of beer you might like. A recommended list of actual beers would be way better. Second, the app is a research project that likely won’t be in the app store any time soon, so the first point is moot. Sad face. Maybe Untappd should read Jamieson’s paper. [via Fast Company]


  • This is wonderful. I can think of quite a few individuals who would love to get their hands on an app like this! Maybe if we all agree to buy Kevin a beer, he’ll work toward releasing it?

    • Kevin, please complete this app or someone else will! I would gladly pay for this app, and know several other home brewers and beer drinkers that would, too. You could market it as a useful way to discover new beers, recommend regional craft beers based on location, etc.

  • I’ll buy you a beer, Kevin! Let’s get this app to the people!

  • Can someone explain why the map has holes between Belgian Dark and Stout? It doesn’t make sense that there is a discontinuity in the taste spectrum…

    • Anna, this just means that there is a discontinuity in the words people use to describe stouts and Belgian darks on This is probably in part because people tend to analyze different aspects of a beer depending on the style. If this map was built from a blind taste test, it would probably be smoother

    • You’ll also notice that there’s a large discontinuity _within_ the stouts.

  • I have frequently experimented with beer. I bet if this were released, millions would HOP right on it.


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