Your buddy's drink recommendation may be hit or miss, but the Next Glass app aims to find beers and wines you'll love through lab analysis. Unlike similar beer and wine-recommendation apps that base potential matches by user reviews, the Android and iOS Next Glass creates a chemical profile of every beverage it enters in its database.
Type in a brand name, or scan the label, and Next Glass provides a personalized score based on your most liked — and hated — brews. Coors Light lovers will be steered clear of hoppy ales, while Arrogant Bastard fans will find equally aggressive beers.
"Next Glass is a tool to make beer and wine more accessible," says Next Glass founder and CEO Kurt Taylor, a self-described reformed finance guy. "We're trying to objectively define taste to help people find new flavors they like."
In as few as five reviews on a one- to four-star scale, Taylor says, Next Glass learns what to look for in your next order. "You just need four positive results and one negative to get accurate results, but more you add, the more insight we glean."
As of the launch, Taylor says the app has a 20,000-drink strong catalog, which could triple in the next year. Every day, Next Glass analyzes 150 to 200 bottles in a pair of machines: a chemical analyzer, typically used in blood labs, that measures alcohol and sugar, and a mass spectrometer. That second machine, also used for toxicology reports, can measure thousands of chemical compounds. The results map out a chemical thumbprint for every beer or wine while also providing calorie and carb information.
Taylor found filling the wine collection to be a fairly simple matter of ordering from distributors, but beer proved far more difficult. "Beer is hyper-localized, so we went on a beer census, driving to 35 cities and filling the truck with a no-beer-left-behind mentality."
While Taylor hopes to embark on a second census to cover more ground, the vast majority of year-round craft beers from established brewers are present in Next Glass. Seasonals and special small batches, at least for now, can be spotty.
A benefit of the dual beer-and-wine analysis (spirits are coming, eventually), is the app's ability to recommend a wine for beer lovers that rarely touch vino, and vice-versa. Next Glass, naturally, also has a social component, connecting friends and seeing what they like. As Taylor points out, this takes the guesswork out of bringing a bottle or six-packs to a friend's house.
And all those thousands of samples? Taylor says that after a little liquid is removed, if a bottle can be resealed with nitrogen — usually corked wine — it is for enjoyment at a later date. "We work with a lot of charities." [Free, play.google.com and itunes.apple.com]