Intelligent beer app from Iowa makes craft beer tasting both engaging and informative

By April 18, 2018

How often have you ordered a beer flight at a craft beer restaurant, only to immediately forget what beer was what by the time you sat down at your table? Never again with FliteBrite, the company promises.

The Des Moines-based startup are cashing in on the nation’s love of craft beer and social media with an intelligent beer flight.

Two of the co-founders, self-proclaimed beer nerds Ethan Davidson and Ben McDougal, were (predictably) in a bar when the idea for the FliteBrite came to them.

“Ben McDougal and I had just been served a flight of beers,” Davidson told Iowa news outlet The Gazette. “The flight came with numbers for each glass of beer, which correlated to what was written on a chalkboard. We quickly felt this was so archaic in an age of smartphones and other electronic things. Why wouldn’t you have a ‘smart’ version of a serving system?”

The idea thus created, the pair teamed up with Ben Sinclair who had the electronics smarts to make their dream a reality.

The device has an intuitive touchscreen which displays which beers are which and, if tapped, gives more information about the beer. The flight is lightweight and durable and can be used in conjunction with the beer-based social media app Untappd, which is already being used by enthusiasts across the country.

Customers can download the app and link their flight to various social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, telling their friends what they’re drinking and where they’re drinking it. This provides free marketing for the establishment who are serving the beer.

The devices are also extremely useful for breweries and bars, as FliteBrite uses big data to analyse the sales made on beers sold through the flights. Owners can find out which beers are more popular than others and get instant feedback from customers. The bars rent the paddles out for $10 a month and can even get them personalised to fit in with the look of their place.

As craft beer increases in popularity and varieties abound, customers are becoming more demanding about the information provided. If there are five different IPAs in a bar, customers want to be able to rank them, whether it be by abv, hop level or simply colour. Customers are already using apps like Untappd and online resources to find this out, but FliteBrite provides this experience while still in the bar with the beer in question just an arms’ reach away.

The number of craft beer breweries has exploded across the US in recent years. In 2010, there were 1,750 craft brewers in the nation. Just five years later, this number had risen to 4,200 according to The Brewers Association. And in 2017, it had reached a whopping 6,372 consumers. The Brewers Association also reported that the craft brewing industry contributed $67.8 billion to the US economy in 2016, providing more than 456,000 jobs and thus carving out a sizeable niche in the US market.

An overwhelmingly hip community, traditionally microbreweries kept their technology in the brewery while the bar moved back in time to chalkboards and beards. However, the sector has not remained immune to the wave of technology hitting society.

Untappd was the first big craft beer app in the US, which allows you to find out information about the amber liquid and discover new beers through recommendations and social media sharing. Beer lovers’ website Hop Culture lists no less than six ‘must-have’ beer apps, that range from on-demand beer delivery to super nerdy Beer Judge, the ‘mad scientist’ of beer apps.

FliteBrite is a novel idea that works with current beer technology to provide a more informed beer tasting experience. This means that even after a couple of flights, it’s a piece of cake to find out what you’re drinking and have extremely passionate, in-depth conversations about the merits of your favourite porter. The best bit? You can record your flights so that the next day you can even remember what it’s called.