Managing the Collection

Wednesday July 10th, 2019 by merrygodown

There’s a lot of great beer out there, and a lot has founds its way through my stomach. That leaves me with (at least) two problems though. First, how do I remember what I’ve had, and whether or not I like it. Second, there’s a lot of collecting going on, I’d like to preserve that collection in some fashion or other.

First, my heart is often in the “old” ways, so I looked for paper journals. Some of these are fantastic. You can get really nice leather bound ones, or you could even just use a standard spiral notebook and make your own format. Many of the beer focused ones will include lots of helpful information about different styles or terms and many provide a structure that can be useful in organizing your thoughts about what you just drank. There is also, for many of us, just something nice about holding a book.

Sample Beer Journal

There are, obviously, numerous limitations of having a physical book though. Having to have a physical object with you at the moment you need it can be a pain. When tasting at home, no problem. When stopping off after work with some friends and finding an unexpected gem I’d like to record, well, I might have to hope I remember after a couple more. It can also be a bit awkward at times to be sitting with friends and pull out a notebook and start writing while the conversation continues around me.

An even bigger issue was searching through what I had recorded. I’m not going to enter the beers in alphabetic order, and certainly months (days? hours?) later I won’t remember the order I had tried things.

Though it pained me to admit it, paper wasn’t going to work for me. Besides, unless I got an instant print type camera, how would I record the beauty of some of the beers or cans? I needed another option.

The more I thought about all the beers I was trying to collect, the more I really wanted a visual representation of that collection. Again, my physical-world preferences kicked in and I started collecting a can or bottle from every beer that was decent, had a cool can, or perhaps just had a great name. I’m continuing with this–at least as long as my wife will put up with it–but it’s already becoming a tad unwieldy. I’m going to need to rearrange things and add shelves, and fast!

Part of the Can Collection

Another note on storing the actual cans and bottles. You need to be really sure you’re cleaning them out well. While a wall of cans might look beautiful, no one wants to smell stale, moldy beer.

Worse though, even if the collection looks impressive, there aren’t any notes about what was good or bad. Did I keep this one because the beer was awesome, or did I just like the artwork?… Or rarity… Or the name? Displaying the cans will likely remain part of my plans, but it doesn’t solve the whole problem.

These days there’s an app for everything. I’ve taken to using Untappd. I like that it lets me enter my own notes, but also suggests a lot of tasting notes you can pick with just a tap. You can include pictures, which smell better than old beer cans a lot of the time, and note where you were when you had it or where you got it.

So for today Untappd is looking like the answer, what do you do? How do you keep track of what you’ve tried or want to try? Do you display things, or have collections?

In the meantime, you can check a couple of us out at Untappd at and