Logging My Beer
food tracking | social life & social media
Clair Samuel has been tracking her beer consumption since 2009. She presents some interesting patterns that emerged over the years regarding the seasonality of her beer selection and the categories of the types of beer she consumes. She also discusses her tracking techniques and how they have evolved over time.
Excel | google forms | Notebook
So I have been logging the beer I’ve been drinking for a really long time, and I guess the first question is why have I been logging those beers.
So, often if you order a beer, there is not many things too much worse than reordering it again knowing that you could have prevented it. One of the first forms of writing were about beer, whether or not it was allocation of beer for workers or if it were a recipe and it’s in those poems to.
So why do I track beer? As I said, reordering a beer is no fun and another reason is making recommendations for friends, if you have a really good beer and you don’t remember the name it’s really hard to advise a friend have it.
So I’ve been logging for a really long time relatively. Notebook is the first thing I started using and notebooks are great because they’re portable. You can take them out with you. however you run through notebooks and you can’t take 15 notebooks out with you.
So after notebooks I tried using Excel which is great for me, however, Excel is a lot harder to take to the restaurant with you. So you can take the notebook, but you can’t take Excel. So my solution was the 21st century and I got a smartphone and after making a few phone calls and also a smartphone I just wanted to look at the apps, and it turned out I became a complete app junkie.
So I went and looked up all the beer apps. This is not all the beer apps. This is the beer apps I tried. There are a lot more, I even tried a wine app down there. I tried a cocktail one to meet my needs. None of them worked, partly because none of these apps have export capabilities, so you can’t take your data with you. You can’t play with it like I did for this talk.
Also a lot of these apps have a social component to it, meaning people are wanting to tweet out what you know, app beers they had, where they had them and who they had them with. And so that was not an interest to me. I was actually trying to avoid sharing with the world all of my beer consumption.
So, I luckily had a friend who had an app. It’s not on here because it’s no longer on the app store. It was his hobby and he has other hobbies now, children, wife. So that’s why it’s a tiny little icon instead of a proper screen capture. And so this did offer export. It was native on the phone, so I didn’t have to worry about anything. However it was still in my friend’s frame of thought. It was his beer paradigm on the world, so how the categories or how he organized them wasn’t in line with anything that I wants to bel able to track, and that’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to be able to track.
So in June of 2014, Google forms got a lot better. Originally they were not very good on mobile web. But last summer, everyone noticed. They got much better on mobile web, so I decided I’m going to create my own. And this is a web view, not the mobile view but the mobile actually is much better or it’s just as good.
So I was able to create my own categories and how I wanted to order them. It was also nice to be able to have on the web if I didn’t want to use my phone, if I had a few entries to do. So these are the categories I created, lots of categories. The number in brackets is the number at which I added the beer, so you can see the first thing I wanted to capture was time and date consumed. Most beer apps out there don’t let you retroactively your beer, so you can’t say I had a beer last night. And if the date of consumption is important to you then you lose that data.
So I was progressively adding different aspects to it. One example where my friend and I were different, I said to him hey, you should put a location of the brewery. He said I do have a location and oh what is that? And he goes location, and I was thinking it was location of consumption, not location of the brewery.
So after I created my own, I came up against a few questions, things I had to resolve. The first of which was materiality of the type of consumption. So beer fest, beer tasting, a beer tasting is similar to a wine tasting or juice tasting whatnot where you’ll get say four beers of two ounces each. If I logged each one of those beers than it would look like I had had four beers instead of having eight beers, so half a pint instead of four pints, and that matters if you’re trying to keep track.
Another drawback of tracking is the fact that you want to keep on tracking. You don’t want your data to not be consistent. You don’t want to lose a single one because if you don’t track a single beer you’re not going to remember.
Another aspect that is difficult is the social. Beer is social in nature, and tracking on your smart phone is not social. So often when I take notes when I’m out or I just try to remember that I did it.
So things that I learned, so one of the first things that I learned in doing this I was really curious about the occasion that I drank the beer at. So not just the location, but was I drinking it with a meal, was it to decompress after work, was it because it was Sunday afternoon at four and I wanted a beer, which is a just because category.
So I also wanted to be able to capture the style, the substyles. There are a lot of styles of beer, so for example a Belgium I.P.A. I don’t want to add that whole beer otherwise the data gets a little cumbersome as you’ll see. So I would do I.P.A. Sub category, Belgium.
And I discovered that this was really useful for preparing for this talk, because I realized I had way to many categories to show anything of importance, because there are 94 categories by the World Beer Cup.
What I found out, I drink I think only about 14 of those. 90% of the beer I consume is from 14 of those categories. So there’s 80 beers that I neglect 90% of the time.
I also learned on this really complex graph here that I drink more lagers than I thought. Now lager that may not sound like a lot, 14.5% but I actually thought I drink much lower volume or number.
So this is the result of the data. This represents four years and this is just each month during the year so it’s aggregated and along the right or the different styles. So the style aspect comes in as importance here, because to make it actually visible instead of having you know, 30 of these I condensed them to 17, but that meant combining things. So there’s German lager, which is sacrilege to have all the German lagers in one spot. So I committed sacrilege and put them all in one spot.
So one of the main things that I wanted to learn when I started tracking and doing this, was what beers do I drink and with what season. So people often ask me what’s your favorite beer and I say it depends on the season. So I wanted to see if I was lying to people. I wasn’t.
As you can see in January, I consumed a lot more porters and stouts; those are the ones in brown. The wheat right above that includes German and American style which are different. They have a lot more malt to them, so they’re heartier and you want to cozy up to a fire with them.
And then if you progress through, the blue represents ales and pale ales, and the green represents just lagers. And come spring, yeah it’s spring. I’m going to have you know some beer and yeah, it summer and I’m going to have a lot more refreshing beer because you don’t really want to have something really heavy, so it’s the seasonality aspect.
Now, I have all this data, I have a lot more than just this, all the categories and I get to decide what to do with this so if you have any suggestions…