I’ve long wished for a better tool than beermapping.com for planning visits to new cities and making sure to hit a couple of the best bars, restaurants, and stores for beer. Of course, it doesn’t care about making any actual recommendations, just listing *everything*:
For recommendations that are usable for planning a trip, I’ve always used the BeerAdvocate city directories, which (if you pay close attention), list the bars, stores, etc in order of ratings. But to properly plan a trip, you need a map, and these guides fall far short.
As a first step towards fixing this, I used a series of tools to make transforming a city’s BeerAdvocate guide into a map less painful. Maybe I’m biased from working on it recently, but I put the final map into Google MapsEngine. Here’s my final beer map for Chicago:
The map has 2 groups – blue markers for bars/eateries (my biggest wish would be for BeerAdvocate to separate those…) and green markers for bottle stores. Darker icons have higher scores.
Here’s the semi-manual process I used to generate this map in less than a half hour:
- Open the BeerAdvocate city guide you want, in my case, Chicago.
- Install the Kimono bookmarklet, which will give you a tool to automate the conversion of lists on websites into data feeds (most importantly here, CSV format).
- After going through the Kimono tutorial, you should be able to make something like my API – both name and address for the 2 different sections (bars/eateries and bottle stores).
(one caveat: I had to go into the advanced mode here and tweak the regular expressions to ignore the ” – ” prefix that the addresses have by default.)
- Save this API to Kimono, then grab the CSV export, it should look something like mine.
- Copy and paste the 2 different sections into 2 different CSV files on your computer, then open them as 2 spreadsheets in a tool that will let you fetch content from the web. I used Google Spreadsheets because I’ve used its ImportXml function before.
- Taking the bottle stores list for example, this is the Google Spreadsheet that I made. Note that I added a new column “Score” that I populated with:
- If you want to only map places with scores above a certain value, you can delete those rows now.
- Then you can import your spreadsheet into a new Google MapsEngine map. I styled mine by Score, using ranges to automatically assign darker colors to higher numbers. Beware: “100″ sorts below “90″ because it uses alphabetic sorting – I changed my 100s into 99s in the built-in data editor to work around this. As a final note, there were some weird artifacts from the import like duplicate incomplete rows and [#] annotations, but hopefully the MapsEngine folks will fix those – they’re good people.
Hopefully this will help some other beer adventurers for now, also.