New app helps ‘fit’ beer to your tastes
With the record pace of new brewery and brewpub openings, it is now easier than ever to walk into a bar or a package store and see many beers available that you have never had the opportunity to try. As a fervent supporter of the proliferation of craft beer, I enjoy seeing new beer being released, but it can lead to many head-scratching moments if I have no idea what to order or to bring home.
If there isn’t anyone there for me to ask – or there wasn’t anyone who really knew my individual tastes – I might poke around at one of the rating sites and see what people thought of it. But then, that’s a group of beer geeks lining up the beer with their own ideas of what it should be. More often than not, I just take a leap of faith, shrug and try whatever is new. But it would probably save me a bit of money and time spent blankly staring at beer lists if I could just get a decent idea of whether or not I would enjoy a beer based on my own tastes.
Thankfully, there will soon be an app for that. BrewHorn, created by Joe Callender of CraftBeerCoach.com, is built on the idea that users should be able to measure unfamiliar beers against their own tastes, and see if the beer in question is a good match for them – quickly and visually. The motto “If the brew fits, drink it” sums up the app’s function succinctly. Instead of providing a user with multiple written descriptions of the beer (as seen on rating sites), the app will draw on a database that captures certain taste parameters and will quickly – and visually – illustrate whether the beer is a good fit to the user’s own taste profile.
When Joe first told me about this idea, I was enthralled. When I try to introduce people to unfamiliar beer, I usually try to understand what it is that they do and do not care for in the wide spectrum of beer flavor, and decide from my own personal knowledge whether or not the beer they are considering would complement their pre-estabilshed preferences. This takes a lot of work, and a lot of getting to know someone before I can make a firm recommendation. But the beauty of this idea is that the beer you are considering is measured against your own tastes – by you – instead of someone else’s interpretation of it.
Since I turned my dad on to craft beer a few years ago, he periodically texts me from bars and asks me:
“They have ___ on tap, will I like it?”
“They have Beer A and Beer B here. Which one is most like Beer C that I like?”
While I love providing this service for my dad, he represents a growing audience looking for on-demand access to this type of information. With this app, there is a potential to reach a somewhat neglected audience in craft beer – those new to it or curious about it, like my dad. There are plenty of websites/apps and tools out there for us beer enthusiasts, but they are written and designed for people already in the know about beer. Reaching the audience of “craft curious” consumers, however, is a path that’s wide open for innovation and education.
Joe plans to do a live demo of this app during this year’s Beer Blogger’s Conference in Boston, MA., so there will be more details released after that first demonstration. I hear there will also be opportunities for people to test and to contribute to the app in the future – so I have signed up to stay on top of what is happening with its development. You can follow updates on Craft Beer Coach. You can also check out the app’s info on Twitter and Facebook.
To make this app happen, there will be two phases. The first phase will be a community effort to build a database of beer profiles. After a critical amount of those profiles are input (by beer drinkers like you and I) then the app’s matching function will mature and be released in a second phase. I am excited to contribute towards this effort, especially if it involves drinking lots of tasty beer and results in more people being drawn into the delicious world of craft beer.
Just as craft breweries have come in to revolutionize the beer landscape, I think that this app has the potential to turn beer recommendation on its head – and put the power back in the would-be consumers hands. The actual scaling/matching algorithm and the user interface will be key to its success, but taking this innovative and individualized approach is something I have not seen before, and I am very eager to see it succeed.