Chicago startup looks to expand your beer universe

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BeerMapper, a new mobile app, aims to help people find new beers they might like.

Want to try find new beers in the New Year but don’t want to waste time or money on ones you won’t like? There’s an app for that.

BeerMapper was launched last week by Chicago-based Savvo Digital Sommelier Solutions, a digital wine and beer matchmaker headquartered in the 1871 tech hub. The app is available for iPads in the iTunes store.

You can use it while browsing a local spirits shop or in the liquor aisles of your local grocery store or drugstore.

“The app takes the mystery out of the beer market by learning your palate for you,” said chief executive Joseph Sheahan, a 34-year-old resident of the West Loop.

The app is being offered initially at 99 cents and will eventually cost $1.99. It promises to be the “Pandora for beer,” letting users find their next-favorite beer based on what they already like.

The app uses algorithms its developers created to learn in real-time a user’s palate based on how the user rates beers. The algorithms draw on millions of user-generated reviews from to identify how a beer really tastes to consumers.

“The more a person uses the app, the more accurate the algorithms get,” Sheahan said.

The app creates virtual flavor maps that show users how a beer might taste in relation to all the other beers on the map. The app uses colors and space to show how beers and beer styles relate to each other.

Savvo, with three employees, also has put touchscreen kiosks that shoppers can use to help find the best wine for them at 13 local grocery stores, including at Treasure Island Foods, Tony’s Finer Foods, Brookhaven Marketplace and Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets. Savvo makes money by selling advertising to wine suppliers that promote their wines on the in-store kiosks.

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