In 2015, I downloaded one of my favourite apps — Untappd (add me!). This cheerful little beer-rating platform acts as an easy way to collect the beers you’ve tried, give them a “check in,” a rating and even a review, if you’re so inclined. It then stores the information of its global userbase, allowing for a crowdsourced ranking of beers around the world, as well as a treasure trove of your own beer journey.

Suffice to say over the last decade, I’ve tried more than a few different pints (cans, bottles, casks, etc.) At the time of writing, I’ve just checked in my 1453rd different beer (ok, so just shy of 1500). Now a reasonable person might bring out their abacus at this point and go “huh? How is that possible or even reasonable?” Good question.

Two factors contribute to this number. The first is simple — beer flights. Especially in the early days of craft beer, I’d nearly never go out for a pint, I’d go out for a couple of flights, most being four samples. Racking up 8 different checkins while remaining sufficiently sober for the bike home feels like a cheatcode.

The second is more, well, competition driven. My old drinking buddy Ben and I have been locked in a nearly-decade long competition to see who can check in the most unique beers. This means I almost never return to a beloved favourite. Cruelly we are forced to try something new nearly every time there’s an available option. As I write this the bastard is nearly 50 beers ahead of me (but not for long…)

With that out of the way, I’ve been afforded the lovely treasure trove of data nearly 1500 unique beer checkins can offer. Lets dive into the stats shall we?

The Best of the Best

I have only given five beers 5/5 stars which makes this a tidy little roundup. Are these genuinely the best beers I’ve ever had? It’s hard to say. The mood I was in, the “vibe”, the condition of the pour, the freshness of the batch — all combine to have influenced what I was thinkin’ on drinkin’ at the time. My list is:

Beer good.

St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout: Rock solid entry and my go-to dark beer. I must have been REALLY feeling it in 2015 when I made it my first 5/5, but honestly it’s good enough I wouldn’t consider changing it.

Trappistes Rochefort 10: This big boy Belgian is a global favourite for a reason. Fantastic new, and incredible if you feel like aging your beer for a couple years.

The Rare BarrelMap of the Moon, Wise Guise (Batch 3): I’ve lumped these two together because I wrote about them both in a blog you can check out here. The two of them have earned a global rating of 4.41 and 4.26 respectively, so I clearly wasn’t out of my mind with these.

Bellwoods Brewery Gose w/ Basil + Lime: The fact that sours dominate my top 5 shocked me, but the fact that a Bellwoods crept in didn’t. I must have been really enjoying this on a hot day on their patio when I checked it in August 2017.

Worst of the Worst

My .25/5 star reviews (the lowest possible rating) reads more like a rogues gallery of your macro domestic lager slop. Kokanee, Bud Light, Molson Canadian, Bud Light Lime, Old Milwaukee Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Budweiser… Bud fans may have caught a pattern here.

I hated Bud before it was “cool”

Interestingly, only one of my .25s has a global rating above 3 stars, and that dubious honour goes to Desperados Original. Of my sub-1 stars, the greatest deviation between my rating (.75) and the global rating (3.54) is the Mill Street Makani Pineapple IPA. I’ll admit a bias against Mill Street after they sold out, and this might influence my rating.

Venues With My Most Checkins

This is kind of a fun one. It’s like a walk through my life based on the bars and breweries most dear to me (or, at the very least, the ones nearby that served flights). My top venues by number of checkins are:

1. Bar Hop (King St, Toronto) – 66 checkins: In the before times when I worked downtown, there was invariably one spot I suggested we grab a drink — Bar Hop. Birthday drinks, post-work power beers, cheeky lunch pints, all saw me at Bar Hop (or Slop, if you’re Ben). Great spot, cute patio.

2. The Greater Good, (Geary St, Toronto)34 Checkins: In our last place, we lived right down the street from this gem of a bar. Sharing space with North of Brooklyn Pizza, I was here frequently and clearly enjoyed going in for a cheeky pint or two. Fond memories with just about everyone I love, including my brother, Francis.

Francis enjoying a NoB slice at Greater Good.

3. Burdock, (Bloor St, Toronto)33 Checkins: If you’ve ever been dragged to a brewery on the West side by me, you better believe it was Burdock. The lovely space is perfectly complimented by the exemplery beer. I had the pleasure of interviewing the co-founder right as I moved to Toronto, and it gives insight into their explosive success.

4. Hungry Brew Hops, (Main St, Newmarket) – 28: When a craft beer bar opened in Newmarket, it was like two small towns discovered the wheel. Like moths drawn to the flame, everytime I was home we’d stand in line for 30 mins, often with our great friends Myles and Megan to sit down for a flight. Love this place, I honestly thought it would rank higher.

An Ode to IPAs – My Biggest Badge

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least touch on the “badge” component of Untappd. Achieve certain things (say, drinking a beer on Christmas) and you’ll ge the “Christmas 2023” badge. Drink 100 IPAs? Same, except for these ones you get levelled badges that advance everytime you reach the next milestone.

Anyone who’s had a beer with me knows I’m a sucker for IPAs. In truth I was shocked not a single one cracked my Top 10 ratings. Maybe it’s because I’m so particular about them I’m a little more critical in the upper echelon. Regardless, I’m on my “I Believe in IPA! (Level 80)” badge which notes I’ve tried more than 400 different kinds — absolutely creaming my runner up “Lager Jack (Level 41)” with a paltry 205 checkins.

Unwrapping my Untapping

That was fun. Plenty more little data points I could linger on, but I think thats more enough for a first go around. If you’ve got Untappd, add me. If not, consider joining as its a fun little way to track your fave brews. Either way, I hope you crack a cold one, and enjoy sipping it slow. And Ben, if you’re reading this, check your Untappd.