The former is the premier beer-rating app. The latter creates self-serve systems that allow customers to pour and sample beers themselves. Recently the two companies linked up. Businesses with PourMyBeer technology can easily display Untappd ratings and descriptions on digital screens above each pour station.
And it goes beyond that. Customers can now use their phones 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 growing craft industry?
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.
Craft brewers and consumers today are more willing than ever to experiment. They like a little bit of diversity. Consumers want to try new things at different places. We’re happy to be the planform that people use for that experience.
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 leaving a review. And allowing anyone to rate craft beer is how you get someone who only ever drinks macro lagers to now try craft beer.
KS: Josh, what attracted you to partnering with Untappd?
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.
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 one 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.
There’s also our suggestive sampling. We 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.
I’m a big fan of saving time and energy. Before, we would have to teach customers how to build their own product databases from scratch. That could take up a large portion of their day, every day. And we’re not a social platform, and didn’t want to explore that road. It makes so sense for us to try to compete with someone like Untappd, who’s already doing what they’re doing in the space with databases. I’d much rather partner with someone whose full-time occupation is making kick-ass databases. No one has the same social traction as Untappd. And if we could partner with them, and reduce the time it took for a customer to have a product onscreen from five minutes to five seconds, that was a no-brainer. It was a win-win for everybody, a case of one plus one equals three.
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 beers and also multiple samples, all 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.
KS: Will Untappd ratings determine what bars people visit, and what beers those bars serve?
BW: We don’t make recommendations of one bar over another. We’re agnostic: we let our consumers choose for themselves the way that they want to utilize the ratings.
There are super users who seek out highly rated beers and try to earn badges. 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 this partnership with PourMyBeer. Together we can add a lot more value for our shared customers than we could independently of one another.
Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Wholesaler magazine. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kswartzz or Instagram @cheers_magazine. Read his recent piece Canadian Craft Beer Eyes Growth in America.