To understand just how craft beer crazy it is in Massachusetts these days, consider that when Tree House opened the doors to its new Charlton brewery two months ago, 4,000 thirsty visitors showed up on the very fist day. Admittedly, not every brewery enjoys that kind of wild popularity, but the Mass Brewers Guild (MBG) hopes to capture some of that same enthusiasm when its new Mass Craft Beer mobile app launches today. The aim is to encourage Bay State beer lovers to get out and explore the Commonwealth’s 100-plus visitable breweries by rewarding them with incentives such as badges, prizes, and even a chance to meet some local beer legends. “We’re incredibly excited to have this app up and running,” said Katie Stinchon, the MBG’s first full-time Executive Director. “Craft beer lovers are going to be blown away when they realize how close their next local beer is.”
Until recently, it wasn’t always easy to find that next local beer. You may recall that in 2013, the brewers guild launched a print version of the same program called the Craft Brewers Passport, in which participants received a stamp each time they visited a brewery. Amidst a proliferation of new brewery openings the paper map quickly became outdated and the program eventually petered out. The new app promises to fill the void by providing a number of helpful features, including a frequently updated list of the state’s breweries with help from the Mass. Brew Bros.
Currently, there are 106 visitable breweries statewide, with another 35 or so that produce beer you can only buy at bars, restaurants, or package stores. As we reported last month, many more are on the way. “The state needed a beer trail map that could evolve and change as fast as its dynamic craft beer scene,” Stinchon told us, adding “brewers have been looking for a way to attract more visitors, and consumers have longed for a mobile device tool to make locating breweries easier. The new app will do both.”
In addition to making it easier to find breweries, the free app will reward users while they make their way along the Massachusetts beer trail. “Rank” badges will be awarded incrementally for every 5 breweries visited and checked in at, allowing app users to progress from “Private” to “General.” Hit up 15 breweries in any one of the state’s five regions and you’ll become a “Western Mass. Pioneer” or “Southeast Voyager.” Each region has its own designation. If you’re as loony as we are, and willing to ride through towns you never even knew existed, go for all five regions (that’s 75 check-ins) and become a “Beer Trail Commander.” You’ll also win a prize pack, which consists of a commemorative shirt and glass, along with the distinction of having your name listed on a special page on the MBG website.
Plan to stay for some samples or enjoy a full pour at each brewery so the app’s geo locator has a chance to confirm your visit. It’ll take about 30 minutes – any serious beer geek has waited longer than that just to get in to some of the state’s more popular breweries. If your mobile device is acting up, or on the faint chance you forget or are unable to check in, you can request a manual override. Just be sure to take a pic that verifies your visit (include yourself next to some brewery signage), which should be easy with the app’s “Photobooth” feature.
Not for the faint of heart (or liver), the program’s ultimate challenge is to become a “Beer Trail Conqueror” by visiting 100 or more breweries within the first year of the app’s launch. Insane? Maybe. But think of the experiences and stories you’ll be able to share when sitting across from Jim Koch of Sam Adams or Dan Kenary of Harpoon, or next to Night Shift’s Rob Burns as an honorary guest at the MBG’s special Beer Conqueror dinner. A lottery will determine who the five lucky attendees will be, assuming Massachusetts has five people crazy enough to travel to every corner of the state searching for the perfect pint.
If you’re planning on making a go at the higher level badges, another of the app’s cool features, the “Tours” planner, will help. Simply choose a region, select which of its breweries you want to visit, and then save it. When you’re ready to hit the road just open your tour, select a brewery and hit the “get directions” button. The app will connect with your device’s GPS and guide you to your first stop.
The amazing badge designs were done by Jim Dumas, an associate member of the MBG and a longtime designer for Sam Adams before starting his own company, Fat Basset Design. A veteran owned business, his creative studio generates branding and logo design for small companies. “We donated our time because we believe in the guild’s mission: promoting craft beer and protecting the interests of Massachusetts brewers,” he explained. “Our team has a passion for craft beer.”
The app was built by Brewers Marketing, which has created custom mobile apps for some of the biggest brewers guilds and associations in the country, including New York and California. In all, more than dozen states now have them. The only other New England state that currently has one is Connecticut. Another, New Hampshire, had planned on replacing their paper passport with an app this summer, but it’s been delayed.
The timing of the Mass Craft Beer launch conveniently coincides with the MBG’s upcoming Mass Fermentational in Worcester on September 16, so users can take advantage of the “Festival” feature that allows them to view a list of all the breweries and what they’re pouring. You’ll also be able to see a festival map so you can find your favorite breweries, locate the food truck of your choice, and even find parking.
We hope to see you there. If not, then look for us on one of our brewery visits in the coming year. Happy Trails, and cheers.
Here’s the link for iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mass-craft-beer/id1277013918?ls=1&mt=8
Here’s the link for Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.brewersmarketing.massachusettsassociation