One problem with the rush to the Super Bowl: You can run out of time to write all the stuff you have in your notebook. Especially in my case, when I got sidelined for two days with bronchitis the week before the game, right in the middle of chasing stories.
To catch up, here’s one Super Bowlish story that I thought was particularly interesting: The most popular beers people were buying in the team cities. That’s according to the beer check-in app Untappd, which is sort of like a Four Square for the beer world.
Greg Avola, the chief technical officer of Untappd, explained it to me: Untappd is a free app that’s designed to create a community of beer lovers. Users can rate beer, check in at bars and find local beers and breweries. The app passed 3 million users last year and recently merged with the beer and wine app, Next Glass, although it remains as a separate brand.
The week before the game, Avola checked the numbers within 25 miles of Charlotte in the last 30 days. The app doesn’t show sales numbers for all beers, it just shows the top ones people rate and check in about.
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“(It shows) what’s trending, what are the hot beers that are happening in this area.”
Nationally, the list of trending beers changes constantly, he says. They update the ratings every two hours. But in 2015, the top-rated beer wasn’t a beer. It was Not Your Father’s Root Beer, the brewed root beer that contains alcohol. It was only available for rating for the last six months of the year, but it still got the top marks.
“The industry is changing,” Avola says. “People are trying different things and experimenting.”
So, what were the top 5 beers in the Charlotte area in the month leading up to the Super Bowl?
1. NoDa Brewing’s Hop Drop and Roll. No surprise to locals here. What did surprise us was Avola’s report that it’s one of the top beers in the country for trading, when fans of rare beers swap things that are only available where they are.
Because Hop Drop was rated the best American-style IPA a couple of years ago, the word has apparently gotten around. Avola hasn’t tried it himself, but he’s getting ready to relocate to Wilmington from New York. “I can’t wait to go down there and try it.”
2. Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Copper. “Every state or big town has one of the those – the beer that’s on tap everywhere in that area. It’s hyper-local, but outside the area, people don’t know about it.”
3. NoDa Brewing’s Jam Session.
4. Old Mecklenburg’s Dunkel. Avola seemed especially surprised to find a dunkel-style beer in the area.
5. Birdsong’s Higher Ground IPA. Birdsong is always a strong contender, so it’s good to see another brewery make the list.