Next Glass App's "Beer Census 2014" Is Collecting Every Beer in America
There are a lot of alcohol recommendation smartphone apps out there, but I think this one might be the most ambitious one yet: App developers George Taylor and Stephen Pond are currently on a quest to collect data about every type of beer and wine available in the United States in a project they’re calling Beer Census 2014. The end goal is Next Glass, a booze recommendation app that promises to use the highest tech, most scientific methods possible to suggest new drinks for you to try that you’re guaranteed to like. Impressive, no?
According to a sneak peek video released at the beginning of October, Next Glass will be able to analyze the chemical compositions of your favorite beers and wines. Armed with the results of this analysis, it will then be able to search for other boozy options with similar profiles, ensuring that its recommendations fit the kinds of things you like the most. Although it sounds most like Shazam to me, Taylor and Pond describe it as “Pandora for alcohol.”
Of course, before the app can make its recommendations, it needs to have a database of… well, just about every type of beer and wine available in the U.S., regardless as to how easy it is to get a hold of. So the Next Glass team did the only logical thing they could possibly do: They bought a truck, decked it out with a disco ball, and took it on the road. Beer Census 2014, as they’re calling it, is traveling all over the country right at this very moment in order to collect the best booze on the market; after they’ve been collected, the bottles are sent to their lab and for analysis. According to the Next Glass website, so far they’ve amassed 15,350 bottles and analyzed 12,452, representing a total of 642 breweries.
The idea behind finding each drink’s specific “beer DNA” (or wine, as the case may be) is this: When critics review drinks, they can never be entirely objective — each person has their own tastes and preferences, so what one person deems fabulous, another might hate. As Next Glass Chief Science Officer Connell Cunningham, PhD puts it, however, “Science knows no preference.” Filing each beverage via its “DNA” standardizes taste profiles in a way that regular ol’ human palates simply can’t. Now, I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know whether that’s all just technobabble or whether it’s actually accurate… but I dig the idea. For the curious, here’s what the Next Glass lab looks like:
I’ll be honest, though: Part of me is a tiny bit skeptical. The app will have to be enormously successful if it’s ever to become profitable; furthermore, the ongoing costs of continually updating Next Glass’s database will likely be somewhat horrifying. But if they manage to carry it off, not only will it be a huge accomplishment, but moreover, it might just revolutionize how we pick out our drinks du jour.