Fortune interviewed us about Craft Check!

Just in time for New Year’s Eve - Craft Check version 1.0.1!

Just scan or search and instantly know whether you’re looking at a genuine Craft Beer or a crafty impostor from The Big Guys!


  • 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!
  • Better scanning!
  • Fewer bugs!
  • More words!
  • 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.

Craft Check: Drink Craft - Not Crafty.


Stone “17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA”

91 A–

This is a limited release imperial IPA that celebrates the 2013 Anniversary of Stone. It utilizes all German ingredients, traditionally used to brew European pilsners or lagers, but brewed like an ale with a West coast flare. Aromas are dominated by stone fruit, balanced equally by woody, earthy hop tones, with lots of honey notes coming from the malt. On the palate, hops initiate juicy, tropical fruit flavors that grow into peach, followed immediately by irresistibly bitter hop cones that take on a strong herbal and floral appeal. Sweet, white sugar-flavored malts give support from the very beginning, holding hands with hops as they ascend into a bright climax. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, somewhat astringent, washing into a hoppy dryness with oils that thoroughly coat the mouth, lingering with endless sustain.

To sum this up, bittersweet citrus unites with sweet fruit, floral herbs, and pine resins. The balance of bitter and sweet feels correct for this boisterous style. Since this is the Stone Anniversary, I find it truly fitting this tastes and smells like stone fruits (peach, nectarine, etc). Euro malts infuse flavors of honey-drizzled biscuits upon which a whole panoply of hop flavors can dance. This beer proves that German hops can compete with the American varieties in both flavor and alpha acid content. It may be beyond 100 IBU’s, but it doesn’t quite get you until the finish, providing sufficient time to enjoy all the tasty hop flavors. I always love a good Anniversary beer, and I’ll look forward again to next year. I recommend it, if you can still find it.

Hops: Herkules, Hersbrucker, Magnum, Merkur, Opal, Smaragd, Strisselspalt, Sterling


102 IBU

Escondido, California

This was Barrett’s favorite beer of last year.


Dogfish Head “Palo Santo Marron”

93 A-

This would be something like a ‘double brown ale’ if that style were to actually exist. Dogfish Head actually built custom 10,000 gallon tanks made of Palo Santo wood they imported from Paraguay in which to brew this fine beer. Aromas reveal an abundance of port wine, red grapes, black cherry, banana, brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla bean, herb-toned hops, and light woody aromatics.

On the palate, mellow malts initiate with a strong emphasis on sweetness reminiscent of brown sugar and burnt toffee. It thankfully manages to remain from feeling cloying, or excessively thick with too much unfermented sugar. Roasted characters run background, then surface for a soft, anti-climactic denouement where flavors of toasted bread, chocolate, and sugars edge nearer to hops. A light touch of bitterness uplifts the palate, followed by understated herbal hops, providing sufficient support without obscuring the malt profile. Alcohol is soon left exposed, revealing port wine and cherries that swirl together with dark chocolate malts, and orange-tinted hops. The Palo Santo wood pulls in hints of vanilla, with woody overtones that round out the palate with added complexity. Things bottom out near the finish, resulting in an abrupt emptiness that fills with solvent tainted by a slight metallic tinge. Mouthfeel is smooth, wet, and sticky.

It’s clear this doesn’t quite fit any established style guidelines, pushing flavor boundaries to merge the roasted nature of a double stout with the caramel, brown sugar, and nutty flavors you might find in a brown ale. It’s every bit as rich as a good double stout should be, and the malts certainly dominate, but it somehow comes across with relatively thin viscosity. Which leads me to my next point…the alcohol is integrated in such a way that it behaves just like the other critical flavor component. As a result, tart, fruity flavors are having a beautiful conversation with roasted chocolate in a way that both accentuate one another, rather than one attempting to try and suffocate the other. Don’t you just love how a good beer can handle alcohol? This is a beer I’ve continued to enjoy, and I recommend it


50 IBU

Milton, Delaware

Here’s an example of something you’ll never see The Big Guys doing.


What is Craft Check?

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.

What’s your favorite brewery?

Well, we’re West Coast proud, so we’ve got some affinity for the locals - StoneGreen FlashDeschutesNorth Coast, Smog City, and Eagle Rock being some particular favorites. But both Boston Brewing Company and Sierra Nevada have done some amazing things for the craft beer community, and if Maine ever gets invaded (we’re looking sideways in your direction, Canada) we’ll pack our pint glasses and make a last-stand at Allagash. So I guess it depends on our mood.

What are you drinking right now?

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.

You didn’t answer my question!

Send us a note!