I recently tried and tested BeerBuddy, an iphone app from the Ratebeer.com website ($3.99). This app actually works well. Most bar scanner apps I’ve tried are slow and faulty. For BeerBuddy, you turn on your location services, fire up the app, hit the bar code button and point it at a beer bar code. Instantly, you are given the Ratebeer.com rating for that beer. Check out the youtube video linked below. There are options to save any beer scan to your own list and you can also upload your own impressions and ratings to the site. Note that Ratebeer.com demands that you get an account in order to see the results if you visit the regular website.
The main problem with any rating system is that the ratings are only as good as the people rating the beer. The more ratings a beer has the more likely that the rating reflects the average rating of the universe of people who rate beer. But for local beers, this can be complicated by the fact that some of the people rating beers from outside the distribution area received these beers from Ebay purchases, beer trades, and friends who have carried those beers along with them from trips. Who knows how they were handled. I read some of the beer reviews of the Iowa beers I had and it seemed that the beers may have been improperly stored, stored too long, or just mishandled in some way. The beers they describe do not match the beers that I know.
I went down to my beer supply and got the following ratings:
Duvel 3.81 (2,995 ratings)
Chimay Bleue 4.01 (3,237 ratings)
Leffe Blonde 3.37 (2,087 ratings
Johns Grocery Generations White Ale 3.31 (259 ratings)
Grain Belt premium 2.6 (263 ratings)
Peace Tree Rye Porter 3.23 (46 ratings)
Boulevard Smokestack Double Wide IPA 3.79 (861 ratings)
Rolling Rock Extra Pale 1.99 (1,621 ratings)
An Android app is on the way, but if you have an iPhone, you can download the app here.
Be careful, there are several apps that go by names like Ratebeer which you might think are developed by the ratebeer.com website. They may be cheaper, but they are not the same.