Sometimes the universe just drops things in your lap. Things so natural, so easy, so effortless that you just sit back and enjoy the ride. Like today’s feature: BreweryFans. Yeah, you read that correctly: I have the Herculean task of reviewing a website devoted to fine, craft beers. Oh, universe, there you go again!
BreweryFans connects fans of really, really dank brew with dank breweries and dank brew they love. In the world of folks providing good social services, I put them up there with the Salvation Army and that stuff Mother Teresa did. First-time users will find all the beer they want from their ever-growing database, receive email alerts, learn about upcoming events, and of course, review the brews themselves. Reviewing the “Most Popular Breweries” on the right-side of the homepage is like reading the roster of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame or Hall of the Coolest US Presidents. There’s the incredible Brooklyn Brewery (got drunk on their tour), the incorrigible Abita (drank it in Baton Rogue; got drunk), and the irrepressible Yuengling (we call it “lager” in Philly), and the stately, incandescent gods of West Coast brew: Sierra (love it), Lagunitas (love it), and Russian River (love it.) My point: this is site has its act together. This is serious beer business.
Users can register, or if you wanna hold off, you can playing around with the search functionality. I entered “Boont,” as in Boont Amber, my official “Northern California Honky-Tonk” beer, and lo and behold, up it popped. I clicked on the result and was taken to an elegant – and shockingly accurate – overview page of the beer. I could “Map This Beer,” meaning it’d show me “beerspots” where they serve it; I could also “Become a Fan” and “Get Alerts” about it.
Now for a couple quick navigation suggestions:
- On the home page, in the main text, I’d add some hyperlinks. For example, I’d hyperlink “ever-growing database” to the database; the underlined text made me think they were links.
- Also, at least for the time being, BreweryFans may want to let visitors check out the BeerFolio page without registering, just to give them a taste (get it? sorry) of what’s out there. People are lazy, y’know?
Now if I may ruminate on the business model. For beer-lovers and brewers alike, it’s a no-brainer. When I lived in Portland, I’d frequently patronize Amnesia, an amazing, yeast-y smelling brewery and bar. Every now and then I’d pop in and see what was new. Did I ever call and ask, “What’s your new beer this week?” No, I didn’t. (Was too busy writing my screenplay.) However, would have it been helpful to sign up for and receive an email saying, “Hey man, we just rolled out our new 7% Brown Steel Unicorn IPA?” You bet it would! And as sophisticated, intelligent, and well-manicured craft-brew lovers, market research shows we are willing to shell out a little extra for something better than PBR with a lime wedge (hate it.) We are pretty passionate about this stuff, and in addition to buying the stuff, are move than happy to provide feedback on the stuff, which BreweryFans also allows. Also, during a recession, people spend more money on alcohol than food, medicine, and diapers combined. Look it up. Breweries, take note.
A few weeks ago, I was listening to NPR’s Marketplace, and hear a nifty little story about how “foodies” are flocking to Cleveland, OH. Restaurateurs are fleeing the high-tax, high-pressure crucible of New York, setting up shop in “The Mistake by the Lake,” and making a killing doing so. It’s endemic of the “Starbucks-ization” (my word, not NPR’s) of niche segments of society, which means this: say what you will about Starbucks, it certainly taught consumers to enjoy coffee, to treat coffee as an experience, rather than commodity. To that effect, NPR noted that networks like The Food Network are spreading a higher cultural element into backwoods inbreeding towns like Cleveland. In other words: good stuff isn’t just relegated to city slickers anymore, and this trend bodes well for BreweryFans. BreweryFans captures this Zeitgeist by providing an invaluable resource for people for whom good brew is a way of life.
With that note, I have to run and, eh, go make myself a nice glass of…um, Ovaltine. Yeah. Ovaltine.
BreweryFans is currently displaying the rather attractive Ruby on Rails internal server error page. As far as server errors go this is best of brand, top of the class. For those interested in connecting with like minded imbibers they’ll have to go the old fashioned route and head to the bar.