Untappd’s Parent Company Acquires Beer Advocate

Two of the largest remaining beer rating platforms are joining forces.

Next Glass, the parent company of popular beer rating app Untappd, has reached an agreement to acquire Beer Advocate. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Beer Advocate co-founder Todd Alström announced the deal on the Beer Advocate forum, adding that Next Glass has acquired “the brand, trademarks, website, data, etc.”

“We’ve been struggling to keep the lights on for over two years, and we still face some challenges, but I’m confident that this is the best path for all of us,” Alström wrote. “Next Glass is committed to not only helping Beer Advocate, but passionate about protecting and cultivating our unique culture, identity, and community.”

Although Next Glass has acquired Beer Advocate’s assets, users’ Beer Advocate and Untappd accounts will remain separate, according to a press release posted to Untappd’s website.

Beer Advocate had derived “a large portion” of its business from advertising income from the print magazine, Alström wrote. But the company scaled back publication frequency from monthly to quarterly in January 2018, and then ceased publication entirely in April 2019. The switch in frequency was “not enough to overcome some of the larger trends in the market.”

Beer Advocate has soldiered on, maintaining its website, ratings system, online forum and beer festival business. The company also offered a paid membership called the Respect Beer Society that gave members special access and posting abilities, discounted event tickets and a banner-ad free view of the site. However, the membership system remains under maintenance and unable to accept new members.

Untappd offers a more broad rating experience for users, who “check in” beers they drink and rate them on a five-point scale, with the option to add flavor descriptors, and receive news from breweries and retailers.

Untappd has monetized its platform and data by offering breweries as many as 1.5 million impressions with users per month. Among advertising opportunities on Untappd are sponsored badges ($2,000 per month for a nation-wide badge), in-app promotions ($10,000 per month for a national promotion supported with an email to subscribers) and paid placements on its home screen ($30,000 per month for a national tile).

“While there are plans to invest in new features and team members to benefit the Beer Advocate community, the content in Beer Advocate user profiles, forums, and beer pages will remain unaltered,” the release said. “Beer Advocate will join Untappd under the Next Glass corporate umbrella; however, both will maintain their own distinct and separate platforms and brands for current and future users to enjoy.”

Next Glass, which specializes in software that connects “enthusiasts, retailers, and producers in the beverage alcohol industry,” acquired Untappd in early 2016, according to a press release.

The tie up between Untappd and Beer Advocate comes one year after RateBeer, another online beer review platform, was acquired by ZX Ventures, the venture capital arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev. Last week, RateBeer released its 2019 “Best Brewers in the World” list.

Also last February, All About Beer magazine filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, less than two years after acquiring competitor Draft magazine in 2017. Both All About Beer and Draft have ceased publication.

The union of Beer Advocate and Untappd brings together companies with complementary strengths: Beer Advocate in events production, and Untappd in app technology.

Untappd dabbled in event production in 2019 with an ill-fated beer festival at Bank of America Stadium in its hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. Inclement weather and other logistical snags resulted in Untappd refunding more than $120,000 in attendee tickets fees, according to Forbes.

Although its first foray into events was compared to the disastrous Fyre Festival, Untappd last month announced plans to host a beer festival in the same stadium this coming May. The company has also hired Talia Spera as its director of festivals and live events. Spera was previously director of entertainment at MGM in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, festivals and events have long been part of Beer Advocate’s business model. The company’s 17th Extreme Beer Festival took place in Boston earlier this month. That event, however, was held at a much smaller venue: The Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts. For the last seven years, the event had been held at the Seaport World Trade Center, with about 12,000 attendees and more than 120 brewers, who poured more than 400 beers. However, a redevelopment of that venue forced a venue change to Cyclorama, with 725 tickets sold per session.

In an FAQ about the deal with Untappd, Alström assured users that Beer Advocate-branded festivals will continue.

“Hell yeah!” he wrote. “In fact, I’m currently curating the invite list for Extreme Beer Fest in Brooklyn this September.”

Meanwhile, Untappd’s expertise in building apps may finally lead to the launch of a Beer Advocate app, which the company has struggled to launch an app after several years.

“Now that we have the resources, we plan to revisit development later this year and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on our progress,” Alström wrote.

Next Glass president Trace Smith added in the release that the communities that have developed around Beer Advocate and Untappd “are important pillars of the brewing industry and deserve good stewardship.

“We’ve demonstrated an appreciation for the integrity of these platforms and the importance of the vision of founders. We’ve worked hand-in-hand with Untappd founder Greg Avola over the last five years to improve the Untappd user experience, and we’ll do the same with Beer Advocate to ensure the brand remains true to its long-held central tenet – Respect Beer.”

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