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What You Have When You Are Only Having One

Michael Donato, June 13, 2013 -   

Sometimes you’re only going to have one beer in any given day. Whether you moderate your intake for your work, your diet plan, or something else entirely, you want to make that one beer count. Do you go for a favorite beer, or style, over trying something new? Perhaps this is the time to try something with a high alcohol content, since you’ll only be having one.

Looking at a sample of a couple million Untappd check-ins, the most popular one-a-day styles are as follows. I’ve lined up the list with the total number of check-ins for that style in the sample, so we can look for differences in one-a-day beers versus regular check-ins.

One-A-Day

Check-Ins

% of Check-ins

Full Sample

Check-Ins

% of Check-ins

American IPA

39748

11.94574

American IPA

223893

12.88549

Imperial / Double IPA

26451

7.949498

Imperial / Double IPA

153668

8.843901

American Pale Ale

17324

5.206499

American Pale Ale

101160

5.821961

American Imperial / Double Stout

10479

3.149325

American Imperial / Double Stout

69597

4.005447

American Amber / Red Ale

9897

2.974412

American Amber / Red Ale

53331

3.069306

American Adjunct Lager

9641

2.897475

American Adjunct Lager

50642

2.914549

American Light Lager

7735

2.324652

American Light Lager

47275

2.720771

American Porter

7465

2.243507

American Porter

42300

2.43445

Witbier

6815

2.048158

Saison / Farmhouse Ale

41023

2.360956

American Brown Ale

5878

1.766555

Witbier

35629

2.05052

Pale Lager

5749

1.727786

American Brown Ale

34183

1.9673

Saison / Farmhouse Ale

5723

1.719972

Belgian Strong Dark Ale

30065

1.730301

Rye Beer

5341

1.605167

Rye Beer

29017

1.669986

Fruit Beer

5049

1.51741

Fruit Beer

28850

1.660375

Vienna Lager

4611

1.385775

Russian Imperial Stout

28717

1.652721

Belgian Strong Dark Ale

4556

1.369245

Pale Lager

26352

1.51661

American Pale Wheat Ale

4329

1.301024

American Barleywine

25031

1.440584

Russian Imperial Stout

4252

1.277882

Black IPA / Cascadian Dark Ale

24890

1.432469

Milk / Sweet Stout

4177

1.255342

American Pale Wheat Ale

24368

1.402427

Euro Lager

4171

1.253539

Belgian Tripel

24285

1.39765

Comparing the left three columns refrencing the one-a-day checkins against the total sample in the right three columns we can clearly see a lot of the styles on this list are the same. There is a little bit more variety in the one-a-days, noted by the lower percentage of check-ins of the top styles, but the overall choices are very similar. That does makes sense; While there’s some desire to try something new, the beers you like to drink are the beers you like to drink, whether you’re having one or several. What happens if we drill down and look at the specific beer choices?

Brewery

Beer

Style

Average Rating

# of Check-ins

Lagunitas Brewing Company

Lagunitas Sucks - Brown Shugga' Substitute Ale

Imperial / Double IPA

3.8767

2952

Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

Samuel Adams Alpine Spring

Kellerbier / Zwickelbier

2.8679

2688

Tröegs Brewing Company

Nugget Nectar

Imperial / Double Red Ale

4.0037

2435

Guinness

Guinness Draught

Irish Dry Stout

3.6228

2232

Bell's Brewery Inc

Hopslam Ale

Imperial / Double IPA

4.199

2196

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Ruthless Rye IPA (2013)

Rye Beer

3.3675

1905

Anheuser-Busch (ABInBev)

Bud Light

American Light Lager

2.1966

1862

Yuengling Brewery

Traditional Lager

American Amber / Red Lager

3.0017

1817

Bell's Brewery Inc

Hopslam (2013)

Imperial / Double IPA

3.9981

1607

Miller Brewing Company

Miller Lite

American Light Lager

2.3646

1558

This is a pretty interesting list. These are the top one-a-day beers by total check-ins for the sample, which is most of February, so seasonals like Samuel Adams Alpine Spring and Bell’s Brewery Hopslam appear high where they might not in a different month. Seasonal spikes are a topic for a different post, but it’s notable to see such a poorly rated one so high here. Perhaps you could blame it’s inclusion in Sam Adam’s seasonal sampler pack, but the absence of it’s casemates suggests otherwise. The non-seasonal Boston Lager is 11th on this list, but the Maple Pecan Porter only has 489 check-ins.

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye, Lagunitas Sucks, and Nugget Nectar are also seasonal selections. The top beers for the sample, one-a-days or not, are mostly these limited release beers. When you’re picking only one beer, the desire to have something you might not see again for a year is strong.

Guinness Stout is an oddity here. I’ve long considered Guinness to be a replacement level beer, or at least a replacement level stout; A beer that’s widely available and still worth having when there are no better options. Perhaps it’s presence on this list is a representation of the many restaurants that don’t have a wide variety of craft beer. Many of these places might also have a Sam Adams seasonal on tap, explaining Alpine Spring’s poor rating but high standing.

Even with Untappd clearly having a crafty bias, the mass market American light lagers still make their way onto most lists due to volume, but you’ll see that Bud Light has fallen to seventh on this one-a-day list from fourth overall in the sample. Alpine Spring, Ruthless Rye IPA and even Guinness jump ahead of it. A working theory is that the more time one spends considering beer and what to drink, the less likely you are to choose something with as little to offer as Bud Light. Even the big companies are adding flavor buzz words, if not actual flavor, to their beer and beer marketing campaigns. With more choice comes more appreciation, and that appreciation manifests into choosing a better beer when you’re choosing just one.

Overall, while there isn’t much difference in which beers people choose for their only beer of the day against the top beers overall, certain seasonals stand out. These are mostly well-hyped beers, well-rated beers, or both. Further research is needed to see if these trends stay true into the warmer summer months as these limited release beers leave the shelves. Seasonal beers, and their release schedules, have drawn some criticism lately, but the evidence suggests that they still might drive our drinking decisions.

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