There are so many apps out there when it comes to drinking, and this piece is not at all about judging their relative strengths and weaknesses. We've obviously partnered up with Untappd, because they've got a great userbase of social drinkers providing strong data.
But if you were interested in knowing exactly what beers were available at your local bar tonight, UT might not be the best app for you. It's dependent on the user for the informatoin, and you're not gauranteed that each beer at the bar that is currently available will have recently been checked in by a UT user. Maybe as the userbase continues to expand, sheer force of numbers will work in the big cities. Not sure about the other thousands of cities.
TapHunter has a great strategy. By providing the bar with tools that can help them sync their bar lists with social media, among other things, they've infiltrated on the bar management side. In cities where bars have taken them up on the offer, you can use TapHunter and BeerMenus -- a similar idea, as they offer 'digital chalkboard' technology -- to find beers at your local bars.
That strategy depends on the bar management. That management needs to understand how valuable it is to make craft beer drinkers aware of the beers that they have on tap right now. That management also needs to update the software, in most cases. Both BeerMenus and TapHunter are great apps when your local bars use them, and if you advocate for them as a user, you can make the app work for you.
Is there a way to combine both of these energies, though? One approach depends on the user, the other on the bar management. Could we combine their efforts?
I wonder if this new app, backed by Zack Galafianakis and others, could find the way to light a fire under the user and the bar at the same time. Push for Beer promises to give users a game that rewards them in free beer. That's the ultimate carrot for the user -- beyond just the best beer, there's the possiblity of money off of that beer. And guaranteed interaction between the user and the bar itself -- in the form of that free beer, given to the user, that connects the two.
In other words, here's the carrot for the bar, taken from the Push for Beer website: "Leverage our statistics system to visually see how your bar is doing. Gain valuable insight into statistical data given by customers. Later, anonymously survey customers." (And more people at their bar, that's the other carrot.)
There is a question about goals for craft beer drinkers, and if this will work for them. Anecdotally, most craft beer drinkers are okay with spending money, and just want the best beers. This app may be directed more at those that would like to get free bad beer, and not at those that are willing to search and pay for good beer.
On the other hand, there's nothing here that would necessarily stop the craft beer drinker from using the app, is there? For example, if the free beer was merely a deal on the beer, or a smaller version of an existing craft beer, it might still be a decent carrot for the craft beer drinker and his thin wallet.
And if bars were brought to the table en masse, along with their drinkers, the potential for a strong, readily updated information flow is obvious. If the bars and the drinkers are both providing data about what beers are available at each bar, you're just more likely to fill in the blanks and give the most information.
Get data wherever you can (if you've got some data for us, we're all ears).
Maybe 'push for free beer' is not the motto that will get craft beer drinkers on board. Maybe the existing beer apps can incorporate some of this marketing strategy with their current app to make it hum even better.
But the potential with this combination of gameification, free stuff, and beer nerdery -- the potential is still here for a strong, multi-pronged data stream that will help us know where, exactly, our favorite beers are, right now.