HOLLAND — Aaron Brummitt is a big craft beer fan, so big that he and two like-minded buddies came up with an idea to create a software application that would alert people when a new brew was tapped at their favorite pub or brewery.
TapApp was born.
A year later, version 1.0 is telling smartphone users what beers a participating bar has on tap. The app lists beers on tap, styles, descriptions of the beers, events, and more, depending on what the publican wants to tell patrons. Within the app, the user can also get to the bar’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and even pull a news feed from the bar or brewery using the application.
Fermented Design LLC, the creator of TapApp, charges the bar a set up fee (minimum $500) and a monthly service fee (starting at $90) to offer TapApp in the Software as a Service cloud platform model. TapApp works with both iPhones and Android devices and can be found at the Apple App Store. Its performance is tracked using Google Analytics.
The app is sold to individual bars. While multiple bars can offer the software platform, users need to download an app for each bar.
The beta version of the TapApp has been served up since last spring at 8th Street Grille in Holland.
“It was initially designed for breweries, and I was looking for something beer-oriented,” said 8th Street Grille Managing Partner Mike Fitzharris. “We have 29 beers on tap, so we act like a brewery. I was in the market looking for beer apps, but none gave me the flexibility to display only our information. That’s what I was looking for.”
Enter Brummitt and his two partners, Matt Michielsen and Brian Gaideski. Brummitt and Michielsen are software engineers working for unnamed companies in Grand Rapids. Gaideski works for Great Lakes Hops in Zeeland.
“Aaron approached us and said, ‘We’re local. We’re beer geeks and techies.’ He showed me what he had done. It looked like something we could get started with,” Fitzharris said.
“I was very happy out of the gate. The interface they give me to use is friendly. I can cut and paste. It updates immediately on the user’s app. It’s also very cost-effective for us, plus I can post our beer specials and upcoming events. It’s aimed at the guy who is always looking for the next craft beer coming out.”
But bottom-lining it, has TapApp helped Fitzharris sell more beer?
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that it has helped us sell more beer,” he said. “It’s hard in the advertising business to say what is working. But our business continues to grow on the beer side and we think TapApp is partly responsible.”
Certainly, Kyle Klooster, who manages Gazelle Sports next door, uses TapApp when he’s looking for a great after-work craft beer to drink.
“It’s nice to not have to call or walk next door to see what’s on tap,” he said. “Every day, they have different offerings. It’s cool too to know what’s in the pipeline.”
Klooster said he’d like to see the application offer more information on the format of the beer serving, as well as pricing.
Todd Boss, the IT manager at Bradford Co. in Holland, also uses TapApp. He’s just a 10-minute drive from the pub.
“Basically, 8th Street Grille has some tasty stuff on tap,” Boss said. “What I found is a lot of bars that have stuff like that don’t do a good job on their website of promoting their craft beers. With TapApp, I can see what they have on tap at any given time. It’s also an easier way to search when you’re mobile. Just click on the app and I know. I’m a big craft beer fan, and I even do some home brewing.”
The only tweak that might make it better, he said, is getting a text message on his smart phone when a limited-edition beer has just been tapped.
“I love TapApp,” he said. “It’s simple; it doesn’t try to do 50 million things I don’t need. It shows me the beers, and events at the establishments — that’s it.”
Mike Brennan is senior technology writer at MiBiz. His day job is editor and publisher of MITechNews.com