So you may have noticed that with our last release, there were certain things that were - and hang on here because I’m about to get pretty technical - “broken.” For those new to the tech world, “broken” is a term that denotes “functioning at less than optimal capability.” In this case, certain types of UPC codes - ironically, the kind that are most commonly used on MillerCoors products - scanned improperly about 20-30% of the time, which is just enough to ensure tracking them down is a major pain in the ass.
So we didn’t. We’ve got things to do here, people.
Instead of spending weeks on end trying to figure out why this thing happened sometimes but not always, we just replaced the scanning stack and now things work the way they should have the entire time. Easy, peasy, lemon squee - no. Stop fucking putting lemons in my beer. Limes are okay in certain circumstances. Oranges are never okay - it’s beer, not a fruit salad.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: when life gives you lemons (or oranges), keep them out my beer.
Fixed bug where certain types of short width-impaired UPCs improperly scanned and thus returned an incorrect response, those naughty, naughty UPCs. Fixed the issue by changing the scanning stack to native iOS scanning API, and ensured the short width-impaired UPCs were appropriately scolded for their insolence.
Added or modified entries for a hundred new breweries, including some that contacted us asking why they weren’t in the database despite being authentic Craft Breweries. “Because you never call or write anymore,” we told them, before grudgingly adding them to the database and wondering whether they’re truly happy with that new beer social network or just acting that way on Facebook.
Finally got around to watching the How I Met Your Mother finale. It went okay.
We’ve also had a huge influx of new users this month (Hi! Thanks!) so to answer some of the more common questions:
Yes, we’re working on an Android version.
No, we don’t have a firm release date yet, but it’s a priority.
Yes, there’s a weird scanning bug that most commonly manifests with short UPC codes often used by MillerCoors products like Leinenkugel and Miller Lite - we’re working on a fix and will submit an update as soon as possible.
Yes, we’re looking at different ways to include more information about the beers you scan.
No, we’re not going to turn into Untappd or TapHunter, mainly because Untappd and TapHunter are already awesome and do what they do really well.
No, our database isn’t perfect, so-
Yes, we always appreciate when you email us info on beers that we may have gotten wrong.
No, we weren’t really prepared for international press for our first version of Craft Check.
Yes, it was awesome and we totally called our parents.
Yes, we like hearing any feedback and suggestions you have.
Yes, even if that feedback is "your stupid.” (A real email, that one.)
Anything else you want answered, feel free to ask us or just email Barrett.
Good craft beer is hard to find. You might not know it, but most of the “craft” and “micro” breweries you see at your local store are actually made by the same assembly line multinational macrobreweries you see advertised nationwide.
So to help you distinguish the real craft breweries from the macrobrewed impostors, we made Craft Check for iPhone.
Just use your iPhone to scan the barcode of the beer you’re looking at, or search by brewery to instantly find out whether it’s an authentic craft brewery or just an imitation crafty brew from the big guys.
Scan the barcode of the beer you’re holding, or search by brewery name.
Uses the Brewers Association definition of American Craft Brewery.
Instant responses for thousands of breweries.
Monthly updates with new breweries, buyouts, and changes in the beverage industry.
Bought it yesterday. Tried it today. Next version has to tell you what brewery owns the brand. If you don't tell me who, I'm just trusting you are right. Also, scanned a miller lite bottle for fun. It came back saying it did not recognize it. Maybe I scanned it wrong. Still a cool app, expected more.
Thanks for checking us out!
Ownership information is definitely a feature we’re considering including in upcoming releases - we’ve had more than a few requests for more detailed info in general, but ownership of crafty beers has been the most prevalent request.
As far as the Miller Lite - yeah…we’ve been having some real problems scanning the condensed barcodes some brands (mostly MillerCoors brands) are using. It’s a high priority known bug and we’re working to resolve it ASAP.
To cater to this growing group of craft obsessives, Barrett Garese and Rudy Jahchan have launched Craft Check, a 99-cent mobile app with a simple (to some, perhaps noble) purpose: to let you know whether that beer you’re considering is indeed a true craft. Garese, a former digital entertainment executive turned entrepreneur, got the idea while standing in his local beer store in L.A., where he found himself wondering “which beers were craft and which were just marketed as craft.” He tells Fortune he was surprised he couldn’t easily find an app for such a question. (Information about a brewer’s corporate ownership is available online but can often require a bit of hunting.) Necessity being the mother of invention, he and Jahchan built one, and it hit the app store in late December last year.
As the Brewers Association has revised their definition of “Craft Brewery” we’ll be revising our database to reflect those changes. It’ll take a little bit to make sure we get it as right as possible, but be on the lookout for an update in the next couple weeks.
More than 250 new Craft Breweries added to our database thanks to users throughout the country!
Nearly four interface tweaks to save you precious time and energy!
The same number of people working on it (2.5!)
Everyone knows that there’s nothing sexier on New Year’s Eve than someone who knows their craft beer.** So don’t be the schmuck talking up your Beer IQ with a Shock Top in hand - make sure you’ve got something impressive to show off.
“Oh this?” you’ll say with a jaunty little smile on your face as you nonchalantly pull your party contribution out of its traveling receptacle, all the while cutting a beguiling figure not entirely unlike Han Solo or Princess Leia from Empire on, “It’s nothing really. Just a limited edition release from [insert genuine Craft Brewery here]. I figured I’d bring it along in case someone wanted to try it out.”
“My word,” they’ll exclaim in return, their voice indicating cautious intrigue but betraying more than a hint of wonder, “I’ve been meaning to try this/looking for it everywhere/hoping to find someone who appreciates the mind-boggling complexity of this seductive elixir! Marry me, Gertrude/William! Take me away from this tasteless peasantry and let’s spend the rest of our lives sampling the pleasures held therein!”
See what we mean? Those two are definitely going to enjoy their beers.
So let Craft Check make sure you’re bringing the good shit to the party this year - the rest of your life may depend on it.
**Seriously. It’s a thing. In fact, it’s all we talk about sometimes.
It’s an app. For your iPhone. Or I guess for your iPad if you’re the kind of person that uses a tablet to do things other people do with their phones.
It lets you know whether the beer you’re looking at is from an authentic craft brewery or just a mass-market imitation craft beer - either by scanning the barcode or by searching the brewery name.
Who made Craft Check?
Barrett was the one standing in the middle of BevMo wondering which of the beers he was looking at were fake craft breweries and which were real. He was also the one who put together the database and keeps it updated, so feel free to yell at him if he got something wrong.
Rudy said “we can solve that problem,” and handled the “listening to Barrett ramble on about bad ways to build it before suggesting we build it in a much better fashion” part, as well as the actual development.
The inimitable Kristin Myers Harvey handled our design and created our logo (and gratefully hasn’t yelled at us for messing up her beautiful designs and layout a bit in this first release - don’t worry Kristin, we’re fixing it!)
What’s “craft brewery” mean?
The Brewers Association has their official definition here, but the gist of it is that if the brewery is owned by a company that sponsors a stadium, intentionally misspells the word “light” or is the “official beer” of anything other than your evening, it’s probably not a craft brewery. Basically, smaller breweries more focused on brewing good beer than on corporate beverage domination.
Why do you only verify American breweries as craft breweries?
The truth is that in most of the rest of the world there isn’t an actual definition for craft brewery - it’s a completely subjective term. Some countries like Canada have several competing definitions (see this 2011 post from The Year of Beer) and most of UK and Europe doesn’t have any prevailing definition at all, as outlined in this post from the excellent BrewDog. So until there’s a larger consensus we feel kind of obligated to stick with what’s agreed-upon.
It’s a problem worth solving and something we’re taking seriously though. We’re looking into different ways to give our completely subjective thumbs-up to some breweries that we’d consider honorary craft breweries in our own eyes, but that don’t meet the existing definition because they’re not American breweries. So keep your eyes peeled for some ideas in the near future, we’re hoping to roll it out soon. Until then though, we’re sticking to what we know we can verify: breweries that officially meet the Brewers Association’s definition of “Craft Brewery.”
Aren’t there enough craft beer apps?
There are a lot of craft beer apps but none that specifically did what we wanted, which was let you pick up a beer, scan it, and immediately know whether or not you were holding a beer from a craft brewery. If you want to know what your friends are drinking, get ratings and opinions, or find out what breweries are nearby, there are better apps for that. If you want a simple yes or no (or the occasional maybe, in hopefully decreasingly common occurrences) then we’ve got you covered.
You screwed up/Why isn’t my favorite brewery listed/This is madness I tell you, madness!
Well…probably, yeah. We had to put together all the information by hand (if it was already easily available, we wouldn’t have had to make Craft Check in the first place!) so mistakes do happen. We’re a very imperfect three-person crew, and Barrett’s typing is occasionally so bad he once misspelled “fantastic” by starting it with a Q. With that said though, we’re committing to monthly updates to both fix mistakes and reflect changes in the marketplace. We want every update to get us closer to zero mistakes and missing breweries, so if you find any let us know and we’ll fix it.
But I really like [insert name of macrobrew here]! Why can’t I just drink what I want?
Look, far be it for us to tell you what to drink. Beer is incredibly personal and everyone’s tastes are different. Hell, we’d be lying if we told you we didn’t occasionally grab a Guinness or a Blue Moon. We’re not fundamentally opposed to macrobreweries and we don’t think they’re inherently evil. We do, however, prefer to support local businesses and think it’s more than a little dishonest for multinational corporate beverage conglomerates to trade on the passion and hard work of thousands of small craft breweries who can’t comprehend the idea of “compromise” (let alone “multibillion dollar marketing budgets”) while simultaneously making it harder for them to compete in a marketplace.
So by all means drink what you like, but since the big guys are going to so much effort to trick you into thinking you’re buying from small craft breweries, we’re going to keep doing our best to level the playing field.
Right now it’s 10:30am and I’m in a coffee shop, so I’m drinking a light roast from Peru. But if you were to ask what’s in our fridge right now, we’ve got a couple standbys from Stone (Arrogant Bastard - both regular-strength and Oaked - and Levitation), a plethora of Ommegang creations, Sierra Nevada Narwhal, North Coast Pranqster, Coronado Brewing Company’s Orange Avenue Wit, and Hair of the Dog Adam. Oh, and four bottles of Wesvleteren XII, but we’re saving those for a special occasion.
Where’s the Android version?
It’s in our development pipeline! We just launched V1.0 for iOS so give us some time to squash a bug or two and then we’re focusing on bringing an Android version to market.
You use the word “so” too often.
That’s not a question.
Did you know you use the word “so” too often?
Yes, my seventh-grade English teacher is appalled. - Barrett
You must drink a lot of beer.
Yeah. And now it’s officially a business expense. Victory is ours.