Interview: The Future of Beer and Tech

For a glimpse into craft beer’s future, look at the new partnership between Untappd and PourMyBeer.

The former is the premier mobile beer-rating app. The latter creates self-serve systems so that customers can pour and sample beers themselves. Recently the two companies linked up, and now businesses with PourMyBeer technology can easily display Untappd ratings and descriptions on digital screens above each beer’s tap handle.

The enhanced convenience goes beyond that. Customers can now use the app to locate highly rated beers on Untappd at businesses in their area with PourMyBeer. Also, based on what people drink and review, they will receive recommendations for other brews. Craft beer — made easier by technology.

For a deeper dive into this confluence of beer and tech, we recently spoke with Brandon Walker, VP of sales for Untappd, and Josh Goodman, CEO of PourMyBeer.

Kyle Swartz: How have Untappd and beer ratings impacted the industry?

“One thing we’re seeing since reviews proliferated is that they can help recommend people new products, so that people try more beers that they are unfamiliar with, expanding their palates,” says Brandon Walker, VP of sales for Untappd.

Brandon Walker: I think one thing we’re seeing since reviews proliferated is that they can help recommend people new products, so that people try more beers that they are unfamiliar with, expanding their palates.

Though I have heard the argument that it’s a double-edged sword. That the regular-old drinker should not be able to review beers because they’re not certified cicerones. But my position has always been that everybody is entitled to an opinion. And allowing anyone to rate craft beer is how you get someone who only ever drinks macro lagers to now try craft beer.

That’s why with beer aficionados, we’ve never given them any special accommodations on Untappd. We don’t identify them as experts or cicerones. We have moderators who make sure the beer information in the database is accurate with what the brewers say in terms of hops, IBUs, etc. But in terms of users, we just want to keep the platform balanced between newbies and cicerones and everyone in between.

KS: Josh, what attracted you to partnering with Unatppd?

Josh Goodman: We found that a lot of customers were already using Untappd data on our displays. So we created a connection between their databases and our system so that this information now flows automatically. Now people can more easily look at the displays and see each beer’s IBUs, ABV, the notes on the reviews — all that information before they sample it. And this helps make beer more of a communal experience.

“The more data we can get, the more intelligent we can be, and the better we can point people in the right direction towards something they’ll like,” says Josh Goodman, CEO of PourMyBeer.

It’s also about finding quality amidst the masses. For instance, if you’re in Chicago, you can now see which bars have tapped the highest-rated Untappd beers within the past 24 hours. This bar may have only one beer on tap that’s over a 4.3 [out of 5 rating], but this other bar has twelve beers that are rated over a 4.3. Now you can sample up to 12 of these highly rated beers — instead of just one.

And there’s also our suggestive sampling. The app can tell you that if you liked what was on tap 38, then you should try what’s on tap 24. Based on the flavor profiles you prefer, we can recommend these other beers on tap. The more data we can get, the more intelligent we can be, and the better we can point people in the right direction towards something they’ll like.

KS: Will self-serve stations replace bartenders?

JG: We’ve heard that we’re trying to replace all bartenders. The answer to that is: absolutely not. We’re repurposing bartenders to be more interactive. We allow greater convenience, and allow people to have samples of beer that are more than just a few ounces. We’re solving the problem of places that have customers who all want to order and also sample multiple products at once. In real time, busy bars cannot keep with a multitude of samples and orders.

The last few years we have really taken off. Business-owners see how efficient the technology is, and they see the positive returns.

Businesses with PourMyBeer technology can easily display Untappd ratings and descriptions on digital screens.

KS: Will Untappd ratings determine what bars people visit, and what beers those bars put on tap?

BW: We don’t make recommendations of one bar over another. We’re agnostic: we let our consumers choose for themselves the way they want to utilize the ratings.

There are super users who seek out highly rated beers and try to earn badges, and they will continued to do that. We will help them find what they seem to be looking for at verified venues, and we will help identify bars that they may be interested in based on their palate recommendations or what they’re checking in. But we treat all venues based on a geographical area.

We’re excited for the partnership. Together we can add a lot more value for our shared costumers than we could independently of one another.

Kyle Swartz is managing editor of Cheers magazine. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or on Twitter @kswartzz or Instagram @cheers_magazine. Read his recent piece Canadian Craft Beer Eyes Growth in America.


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Author: Kyle Swartz {authorlink}