Monday, June 8, 2009

Online beer sommelier actually helpful

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge Beer_Sommelierlogo.png

True beer nerds probably won't have any use for the Internet guide Beer Sommelier. But for everyone else, it's a neat way to figure out the convoluted world or beer, where there are more than 20 distinct categories and a hundred sub-categories.

The guide is compiled by Great Brewers, on a Web site started by a distribution company but run by beer bloggers. It features more than 250 beer-pairings -- from the boring, such as scrambled eggs (a Belgium wit such as Two Jokers) to the exotic, such as bison (American brown ale or a brown porter). What makes the site so good is that most of the dishes aren't normally associated with beer. For example, especially strong cheeses such as Roquefort or Stilton are often associated with wine when they also go well with an old ale or a stout.

All of the beers are categorized according to the Beer Judge Certification Program, the same organization that holds beer competitions around the country. After you make a selection, the site directs you to a page listing stellar examples of your chosen type of beer, tapping into a database of distributors in 23 states (including Missouri) showing what beers are available locally and often even the liquor store where they're sold. (This part doesn't work as well as the guide itself, but there are often two or three recognizable beers.)

The biggest difference between this online beer sommelier and a human one is that it only goes one way -- you can't pick a beer style and then pick some good food to go with it. No, it assumes you're choosing food before beer. The bigger problem is that the program is not available in app form for phones.

Soon, a smart person will come along and design a program that works as well as beer sommelier for the iPhone. Until then, normal Beer Sommelier will have to do.


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