Will Twitter for Beer

Innovation by | Sep 2009 | Issue #32

Love it or hate it, Twitter is the social-media darling du jour. People everywhere are telling their “followers” in 140 characters or less exactly what they are doing or what is on their minds, all day, every day. Once relegated to tech geeks, Twitter’s ease of use via computer and mobile phones has grabbed the attention of even the staunchest Luddites. Let’s face it, when National Public Radio’s veteran reporter-commentator Daniel Schorr, who is 93, is tweeting, there’s no excuse not to tweet, too.

But Twitter has its opponents, who say the world really doesn’t need to know what you ate for breakfast or whether you think Frank should’ve gotten bumped off Big-Brother-American-Idol-Bachelorette instead of Tony.

For beer aficionados who are firmly planted in that camp, and even those who aren’t, allow me to introduce you to Taplister. Taplister is a website, a phone app and a Twitter tool that alerts followers when beers are freshly tapped at a growing number of participating pubs (currently, only Portland, Ore., pubs). It also can help you peruse what’s on tap at a given pub at any time, and allows you to find where a specific beer is being poured.

Here’s one way Taplister works: Let’s say, for example, that you are thirsty for Twitter Tripel, a (fictional, we hope) new seasonal that was just released. All you have to do is log on to Taplister.com, or, if you are not at a computer, use the mobile site or the iPhone app called Beer Signal. Then, search for Twitter Tripel. Voila! In our fictional world, it lists two places in town that already have it on tap. Mission accomplished, except for the drinking.

A second way to use Taplister is to search for what’s on tap at the pub you are planning on visiting. Instead of searching for a beer name, just search for the pub name and an up-to-the-minute list of what’s on tap is generated in an instant. Another scenario: You follow Taplister on Twitter, which sends an alert each time an alehouse tweets that a new keg has been tapped. The tweet might read something like this: “Twitter Tripel on at LotsoTaps Ale House, Twitter Dubbel off.” That means you missed the Dubbel, but the Tripel is fresh. Might be time to work a trip to LotsoTaps into your evening plans.

Taplister was even used rather successfully—especially for its first attempt—at the recent Oregon Brewers Festival, where enlisted Taplister ambassadors tweeted which kegs were blowing and what was replacing them so followers could know what to expect when they braved the lengthy lines. The incident was the first of its kind in an official capacity, according to Taplister insiders, who say they expect to find more such uses at other beer events.

“To our knowledge, we are the first of our kind in the world to create a live, beer search engine based off of the popular social network Twitter,” says Taplister chief beer officer Kerry Finsand. “Most beer search engine sites that are out there let you search for breweries or beers in a certain area, but not what is actually on tap.  The closest service to what we offer would be the New York-based website BeerMenus.com, but they don’t use Twitter or have live, updated tap lists.”

Finsand says the beauty of Taplister is that it relies on either representatives of the venue itself or Twitterers, so there are hundreds of eyes, ears and texting fingers to keep the tap lists current; all they have to do is Twitter what’s on or off tap at a certain location. Many establishments that are already using the system have given the Taplister duty to a staff person to make sure their lists are accurate. A full explanation of how it works can be found on the “How It Works” page at Taplister.com.

Finsand says he and his partners are planning on expanding to additional cities later in the year, and are looking for people who are interested in having the service in their city—a move that could open up a whole new Twitterverse for beer fans. 

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