Craft beer sales are booming.

Transitioning from niche industry to nationwide phenomenon, craft beer has become big business. These unique and flavorful brews now account for more than 23% of U.S. beer sales, which totaled $111.4 billion in 2017.

But with an ever-increasing number of options, how do you choose a beer you’ll like? Some help is being provided by World of Beer, a restaurant chain that features about 50 craft beers on tap and hundreds more in the cooler.

To rise above the competition, World of Beer and Paytronix created the “ALEgorithm.” In addition to being a clever play on words, it offers suggestions in much the same way that Netflix and Pandora Radio do. Guests indicate which beers are to their liking and get recommendations for future ones to try.

Stuart Wilson, Analytics Manager for the Paytronix data science team, worked with World of Beer to make its vision a reality. He joined us for an interview and shared some insight.

Paytronix: Can you tell us why the ALEgorithm was created?

Stuart: The ALEgorithm was initially conceptualized to help make beer more accessible to guests who only visit occasionally. For these guests, a rotating menu of 100+ beers that varies by location proved to be intimidating. On the other hand, World of Beer has a long history of offering this variety to beer fanatics – and therefore, has a robust dataset for generating recommendations. 

Paytronix: What challenges came about when developing the ALEgorithm?

Stuart: World of Beer has one of the largest databases of menu items, with something like 80,000 different barcodes in their inventory. Across thousands of guests, digesting this data can be a nightmare.

From a design perspective, this led to one large challenge: how to design an algorithm that would run efficiently for all guests and deliver individualized recommendations. The solution meant developing a unique FlavorPrint technology. This technology considers guests order history and constantly evolves with consumption patterns.

Paytronix: Does the ALEgorithm change the landscape for restaurants? If so, how?

Stuart: Yes and no. This specific technology isn’t a one-size-fits-all. It works well for World of Beer because of the size of the menu. But such applications of data science in the restaurant space will continue to change the landscape, especially when restaurants aren’t only competing with other restaurants but a range of other competitive channels.

Paytronix: What’s your favorite beer?

Stuart: I’m a huge fan of sour beers. Lately, I’ve been enjoying Press Tart from Rhinegeist.

Paytronix: If you could order a beer right now using the ALEgorithm, which recommendation would you take?

Stuart: I would like to try the Oud Bruin by Petrus. It’s a dark red Belgian beer with a sour sweet balance. It sounds intriguing.

Want to try beers that suit your tastes? Download the World of Beer app today and start exploring your drinking options.

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