Beer Recommendations BETA!

Last updated January 25, 2018 · By Joe Masilotti

Beer Recommendations

We're proud to announce a brand new BeerMenus feature, made just for you, the beer lover: Beer Recommendations!

Now each menu on BeerMenus mobile web, iPhone app, and Android app will lead off with an all new "Recommendations" section!

We're still working out a few kinks (hence the BETA tag) but we were just too damn excited to wait any longer. We needed to let Recommendations loose on the world ASAP!

We'll get into the algorithm-y weeds below (grab some popcorn!) but here's the bare bones story on how Recommendations work: Beers land in the "Recommendations" section based on how well they score in 5 categories:

• Is the beer local?
• Is the beer rare?
• Is the beer sought-after?
• Is the beer new to the menu?
• Is it rated well?

As you can see, we also included Recommendations by Beer Style in this launch. We love this tool. It comes in handy if, for example, you want a hoppy beer but you don't know where to start because a place has a ton of IPAs, double IPAs, etc. Simply navigate to "Recommended Hoppy Beers" and order!

As always, if you have any questions/concerns/feedback let us know.

Once you give Recommendations a shot, show us some love by Tweeting about them or sharing this blog post on Facebook !

As a beer drinker, when, how, and why should I use Recommendations?

1. Recommendations will help you decide which beer to order/buy.

If the place you're at uses BeerMenus, flip open the BeerMenus app or and pull up their menu on BeerMenus. Recommended beers are right there at the top, meaning you'll no longer have to mull over the paper menu (or lack of a menu, if you're at a beer/liquor store). You'll no longer be paralyzed by choice!

2. Recommendations will help you decide where to go.

Recommendations bring a place's best beers to the top of its menu. This means that when you're deciding where to go and looking at different places' menus, you don't have to scroll through their whole list to see the best they've got to offer—now that'll be right at the top of the menu!

3. Recommendations will help you discover great new places.

Recommendations allowed us to overhaul our "Top Places Nearby" list. Previously, this list was simply a ranking of nearby places with the most followers.

Number of followers is a decent stand in for great beer (they had to get those followers somehow!), but it doesn't tell you where to go to get the best beer right now.

Now it does—we renamed the list Where to Go Right Now, and it uses the Recommendation "engine" to figure out the nearby places with the best beer selections right now.

Since places are always changing their beers, this list will always be changing as well (are you getting how pumped we are about the right now part of this?!) which means you'll more easily discover new places all the time!

Top Places (Old) nearby screen before

Where to Go Right Now (New) Where to go right now

How are beers Recommended? What data do you use?

First, let's be clear about what Recommendations aren't: they're not flat star ratings or 100-scale ratings. While helpful, ratings don't tell the whole story.

We do include consumer ratings in the data, but we also add in data from the 35,000+ places who list their beers on BeerMenus and the activity of millions of beer lovers who use BeerMenus to find beer. Importantly, geographical nuance figures in as well.

This means that a Bell's Two Hearted isn't just a plain and simple "92" or "4 stars." It gets a different score at a place in Columbus, OH than at a place in New York City than one in Minneapolis get the picture.

As far as nuts and bolts go, to score and rank beers we use an index called the Beer Score.

Beer Score Makeup

To calculate the Beer Score, we use internal data to answer 5 questions about all the beers on every place's menu:

  • How sought-after is the beer? As you know, BeerMenus is how beer lovers find the beers they love. It's abundantly clear to us how sought-after a beer is.
  • How well is the beer rated? Beer lovers use BeerMenus to rate beer. For this we look at ratings of beers and breweries.
  • How rare is the beer? This is where geography figures in—the fewer nearby menus on which a beer is listed, the more rare it is.
  • Is the beer local? We believe that local beer is the best beer. If a beer is made near a business that's selling it, that beer scores higher than non-local beer.
  • How recently was the beer added to that menu? The more recent, the better. We prioritize recently added beers for two reasons: first, freshness is key to most beer styles; second, if a beer's been hanging around for a long time, there's probably a reason for it.

Summing and Ranking

Once we've answered all five of these questions for each beer on every menu, we calculate a score for each beer. On each menu, the highest-scoring beers appear in Recommendations.

As you can see, we also indicate the principal reasons why each of the recommended beers made the cut. We include this because when we're out in the wild we want to know why a beer was recommended, and figured you'd like to know, too!

This is completely dynamic!

Because the Recommendation "engine" is always running, it's possible for places' recommended beers to change minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, or day-to-day!

This happens if:

  • The place in question updates their menu (e.g. they add a "better" beer to their list)
  • Other places update their menu (e.g. a beer is no longer very rare because a bunch of other places get it)
  • People like you fall in love with a beer (e.g. it becomes more sought after or highly rated)


Something look off? Skeptical? Want an earful from our lead developer, Joe? Shoot an email to—as always, we're happy to help!

Oh, and if you enjoy Recommendations, then please do us a favor and Tweet about them or share this post on Facebook!