I've been on this planet for 32 years and have had internet access for 17 of them, and I find it hard to remember the dark times before I got my first 28.8 modem. This could be because I was too busy doing social interaction with actual real life people, but more likely because I was playing video games all day. I honestly can't remember. What I do know is that the internet is slowly eroding social interaction and devolving us all to anti-social, goggle eyed goons. Where before I would have to make an effort when mingling with strangers, now I can just whip out my trusty smartphone and avoid all forms of social interaction while writing blog posts complaining about how nobody socially interacts anymore.
We may not be getting along as well as we did before the internet came along but one thing the net has bought us is countless amount of knowledge. How did the world function before the internet? It must have been a arduous, tedious time having to look through books, journals or talking to an expert. Now I can just do a quick Google search to find out how to do my job and get a full listing of every episode of "Fraiser." It's true that about 90% of content on the internet is misinformed bollocks but that useful 10% helps me do my job, learn new things and most importantly find out where all the exciting pubs are.
If you told me 20 years ago that in the future you would get the internet ON YOUR PHONE I would have laughed for a few minutes before actually thinking about it and agreeing it's probably likely. For beer geeks smartphones are an invaluable tool for finding out about top pubs and top drinks. There are three apps I find very useful. Untappd is probably one of the best known beery apps. It allows you to "check in" beers so you can keep a record of all the booze you're consuming like the big old lush you are. This blog wouldn't exist without Untappd as I have the memory of a forgetful goldfish. Untappd is meant to produce recommendations based on your list of beers but it's ropey at best. The missing link is that the beers it recommends aren't always readily available. It would be better if it gave you recommendations based on other local check ins, so you might stand a chance of buying a "Dave Beards Craft IPA Explosion" or whatever it recommends. Still the app is well worth downloading purely for logging beers.
Next up is Craft Beer London. This handy app tells you what local hipster beer hangouts are nearby just in case you've got a hankering to be surrounded by trendy beards sipping on mega hopped IPA's (otherwise known as craft beer.) It's a good app but for some bizarre reason it doesn't list opening hours, which has caught me out a few times when I've visited a bar for a cheeky lunchtime half only to find out it doesn't open until 4pm. It's a pay app but I think it's definitely worth a purchase for any beer loving Londoners. But following on from my gloomy "state of the craft beer scene" article a couple of weeks ago I wonder if this app will still be as relevant over the next few years.
The last app is the Good Beer Guide from CAMRA. It's amazing to think I can have a nationwide listing of decent boozers sitting on my phone. The app works fine, you can search for pubs or get the app to tell which ones are nearby. It gives plenty of info about each pub including opening times. The one flaw is not related to the app but inherent to the GBG itself. It's a very useful tome but you have to remember pubs are included based on beer quality rather than the pub itself. Thanks to the guide I've been to some amazing pubs but I've also been to some real shockers in terms of atmosphere, sipping my admittedly tasty pint in a room with crumbling architecture and terrifying "locals." Unlike Craft Beer London which is updated every few weeks the GBG is updated once a year, and a year is a long time in the pub trade, where formerly decent boozers can change management and become shoddy, or even just close down. The app is not cheap but it's more economical than buying the book - and it's much easier to lug around with you.