A place where the serious beer drinker or Saturday imbiber can develop, categorize, scrutinize, organize, define, comprehend and redefine their own unique taste and style of beer drinking.
Like many of us – especially me – it was Dogfish Head that paved the way for Mike Jones’ craft beer awakening.
With some prodding from his older sisters and a four pack of Midas Touch shortly after his 21st birthday, he knew he was hooked. Naturally, great taste runs in the family.
“Every family gathering/holiday has become a mini beer tasting event, where we all bring different bottles of beer and taste them together,” he said. “We only really get most of the family together on holidays and I wanted to be able to share and discover craft beer with my family even when we weren’t together.”
That’s what led him to create Beer Portfolio, a new website that goes a few steps beyond beer lovers’ go-to option Untappd in the realm of virtual and social imbibing. While beer lovers will recognize similar search and “check in” structure from the most commonly used beer app, Beer Portfolio offers extra perks that broaden the online beer drinking experience and even make it easier for bloggers to share thoughts and opinions.
The Site: What to Look For
There are tons of aspects to the website. Here are three that stood out …
While you have a running list of your checked in beers in your “Portfolio,” you’re also able to view a constantly evolving Google “Beer Map” that adds markers for every beer you drink. For example, I added a few beers while perusing the site and when I wanted to find a brewery on my Beer Map, I can head directly to that brewery’s page on Beer Portfolio or click for directions so I can high tail it there for some more beer.
Not every beer or brewery is covered on Beer Portfolio – I couldn’t find Warfteiner or Big Boss’ Saucy Pants – as Beer Portfolio pulls in its database of brews and breweries through BreweryDB.com. That site crowdsources its list, so new brews may not be available, although you can add beers to Beer Portfolio at your leisure by emailing Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each beer page does have a good deal of information aside from ABV, IBUs, style and more. Jones said the main purpose of Beer Portfolio isn’t to replicate the social drinking experience of an app like Untappd, but rather offer a gateway to beer education. In that vein, there’s also a fairly good collection of local and obscure beers, like this group from Wagner Valley Brewing, a hometown brewery I’m fond of:
One of the things that can be hard while tasting a beer is trying to narrow down the characteristics of the flavor and aroma. You may be thinking it tastes citrusy, but what kind of fruit, exactly? When checking into a beer, Beer Portfolio has drop-down menus that allow you to choose a taste description, which simplifies your choice.
A secondary drop-down bar also lets you pick the prominence of the flavor.
These are nice aspects to the site, but you’re also locked into the set flavors provided by Beer Portfolio. When I checked into Ghost Face Killah, I couldn’t choose “pepper” as a flavor, so I chose “spicy.” However, Jones said that he’ll add new characteristics as people request them, so it’s just a matter of emailing him.
There are lots of beer review aspects to play with, but the most pertinent part of the site for beer writers and bloggers may be the option to add a link to your own blog post/review of a beer. If you feel restricted by the descriptors listed on Beer Portfolio, this is your chance to show off your taste buds and tell people about your drinking experience. To add a blog review, you simply rate your checked in beer on Beer Portfolio, add a descriptor from the “taste profile” of the beer and then submit your link. I added a review for Westbrook’s Citra-Rye Pale Ale to that beer’s page:
Beer Portfolio is still a growing site – some bugs, HTML mark ups and typos may exist. It seems to be ideally built for desktop use right now. However, Jones is actively working on the site daily to iron any issues out and he’s very responsive to notes and suggestions, which is great.
Android users can find a mobile web app in the Play Store and download it to have a dedicated launcher on their home screen. Others can access beerportfolio.com/mobile for the same mobile website. The mobile website is pretty basic compared to the desktop site at the moment, Jones said, but you’re perfectly able to access the full site on a smartphone, too. It’s just a bit clunky. Jones also noted he’s planning a full app in the future and more.
“My next goal for the portfolio page is to allow people to make custom lists for sorting beers,” he said. “For example, you could make a ‘wish list’ to share with friends, so they know what your looking for. Or maybe another list called ‘beer I have to trade’ so friends can see what your willing to trade.”
Because I’ve already built a community on Untappd and have a slew of other beer apps on my iPhone, I don’t think my current behavior will change in their use. However, there’s definitely a place for Beer Portfolio. I like that it holds my hand a little when narrowing down the taste or smell of a beer, something that I think is perfect for beer lovers who aren’t as concerned about the intricate characteristics of flavor or aroma.
I also like that Beer Portfolio will make it easier to find blog reviews. Instead of just heading over to a list of short thoughts on Beer Advocate, there’s potential to find thoughtful reviews elsewhere.
The important part of the site is in its name – the portfolio. It’s easy to track your beers, your descriptions and more. As you build your group of friends on the site, you can also see their portfolios, making it easy to plan beer trades, shares or tasting events. Something that benefits Jones for his family gatherings.
“I can quickly see what beers my siblings enjoy or I can see what they haven’t tried yet if I want to bring a new beer to the table,” he said.
As beer-loving people, we know there’s never any shame in trying something new. Head over to poke around a bit and see if Beer Portfolio interests you enough to file away some beers.
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac