Think of it as Pokemon Go for beer. And instead of Squirtles, users are finding bars with full kegs of their favorite brews.
DigitalPour, a high-tech draft management system that recently made its Delaware debut, allows beer drinkers to look up a participating bar and see in real time what beers are on tap and how much of the good stuff is left in each keg. For bar owners, it tracks just about every drop of beer sold (or lost) from their taps.
The new Rehoboth Ale House, which re-opened a couple of months ago under new ownership, added DigitalPour when they first opened their doors, giving the cutting-edge system a try.
Not only does DigitalPour track beer sales minute-by-minute and allow patrons to check beer levels with the app, the system also includes large digital screens in each bar that act as up-to-the-minute beer lists. The screens also show keg levels and they are integrated into each bar's social media pages. Anytime someone tags the location, their post ends up on the screen next to the beer list.
In short, the days of out-of-date beer lists are over for DigitalPour users. And as the craft beer industry booms, there is more demand from beer fans to know what beers are being sold where on a day-by-day or even hour-by-hour basis.
Since the Rehoboth restaurant is the first bar in Delaware to use the system, which was first introduced to the market in 2011, it's also new to just about every customer.
"Most of our customers think it's pretty cool. They have never seen it before," says Rehoboth Ale House co-owner Kyle McLaughlin, who partnered with Gary's Dewey Beach Grill co-owner Adam Newman to open the restaurant in May. "We already have regulars who track it religiously."
It's so new that McLaughlin has launched an educational campaign to promote the digital gadget, training servers and bartenders on how it works so they can spread the word, one customer at a time.
Pike Creek's Lindsey Timberman was already thinking about checking out the new Rehoboth Ale House when she goes to the beach for a bachelorette party next month. After discovering their use of DigitalPour and checking out the app, the craft beer lover is all in on a visit.
"When I showed it to the bride, she was really excited to see it, plus they have a great tap list on top of that," says Timberman, publisher of Delaware Hop Scene, an online Delaware beer news source.
As more breweries release limited-edition beers that are hard to track down, DigitalPour is hoping to be the tool that connects the thirsty masses to the most in-demand taps. And Timberman might be their perfect target audience customer: "If it's a unique, specialty beer, I will definitely stalk it."
Lisa Marcus, CEO of the Oregon-based DigitalPour, says about 450 bars and restaurants now use the system across the country.
The system allows bar managers to change the information about a tap just once to instantly update the app, the in-house screens, social media pages and the bar's own website. It can also automatically send out a tweet to followers every time a new beer is tapped and also notify the brewery that one of their beers is being added.
"It can let bar owners know what their best-performing beers are and also gives them all kinds of information like profit-by-minute statistics. They can really dive into the analytics using this system," Marcus says.
An update for the newly-introduced app is coming this fall, she adds, allowing users to search any type of beer and find the closest bar that is selling it.
After using the system for two months on his 20 taps, McLaughlin says the restaurant is still in a testing phase, trying to determine if DigitalPour is worth the the monthly cost, which can be $100 or more.
"I think it's pretty neat," he says, "but we don't necessarily know yet if it's driving people here yet."
For her part, Timberman hopes more bars adopt DigitalPour or other apps that give patrons real time information. She says she recently went to Two Stones Pub in Hockessin after seeing them advertise a new beer on social media earlier in the day and by the time she got there, the beer was gone.
"They said it was kicked and I was like, 'Nooooo!'" she says. "It would be pretty cool if they had something like this."