Social media has radically changed the way the world interacts with one other. As Gen Y guy, I feel like I’m already out of the loop with the eccentricities of multiple uses and “meanings” of retweets and favorites on Twitter. Compound this with the ever-expanding glut of social media offerings: Snapchat has morphed from taboo to mainstream, Vine just launched Vine Kids (because how on Earth has Vine missed this key demographic – 6 second videos for kids with zero attention span), Pinterest has the DIY market covered, Tumlbr and Instagram have their niches.
Untappd, a social media app specifically for beer, was suggested to me by a friend. After eventually getting around to trying it out, it quickly became clear – this is the social media app for me. The pure social media aspect of it is fun on its own. You get to see your friends check in beers, often offering their thoughts and ratings. You can comment on their check-ins and keep track of your own check-ins and ratings, which comes in handy if you try to avoid duplicating previously enjoyed beers as I do.
But the feature that really snagged me like a well-oiled bear trap was the badges. Badges can be earned for anywhere between one and five check-ins of the same ilk (5 pale ales, 5 beers consumed at a ski resort, 1 beer consumed on Christmas Day), and many can be leveled per additional 5 check-ins. I began to deliberately seek out beers that would fulfill these badge requirements, and continue to do so presently. Badge Hunter is a segment that documents attaining these badges, along with tangents and musings as the theme dictates. There’s really only one place to begin.
Untappd badge: Newbie
Badge criteria: Check in one beer.
Beer that unlocked the badge: Tusker Finest Quality Lager – Kenya Breweries
It’s hard for me to believe I’ve only been using Untappd for a shade over two years, but it all started at a restaurant in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom park called Sanaa. On a family trip several years ago, my mother booked a reservation at Sanaa without really telling the rest of us about the place. Those of us with more pedestrian food preferences had a minor freakout when we opened the menu. Traditional African and Indian cuisine? Uh oh. Boy, was I wrong about my trepidation. They have a delicious naan service with 9 unique dipping sauces. I devoured my slow cooked butter chicken and braised beef, which was melt-in-your-mouth tender. No Disney trip has been complete since then without a visit to Sanaa.
Tusker Lager is a rather unique tasting lager, with some faint fruit flavors peeking through. Nine times out of ten I have virtually nothing to say about lagers because my palette simply doesn’t discern much of interest. So the fact that there was anything worth noting on Tusker was notable enough on its own. The other thing of completely ancillary interest to me was how heavy duty the bottle was. Evidently, up until this year, East African Breweries made its own bottles under its subsidiary in Nairobi, Central Glass Industries. It certainly has the feel of a bottle designed to withstand the African elements.
And with that, Untappd played that stereotypical drug dealer role and gave me my first hit for free. Check in any beer and you get your first badge. Simple as that. To be honest I didn’t really pay all that much attention to the badges early on. But it didn’t take long for my check-ins to mount and to realize I was already achieving badges fairly quickly. The more they piled up, the greater my desire became to fill in the holes on my badge screen. So it began.