The Better Beer Blog

Nick and Craig’s Tips for Choosing the Right Beer Anywhere

By Craig Vermeyen | July 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

Nick and Craig sat down with Annie of The Story of My Life to talk about beer. And last meals.

Barly can help recommened you good beer to drink!

Barly founders Nick Norton and Craig Vermeyen dropping some beer knowledge on Annie from The Story of My Life.

Annie, a craft beer novice, had been having some trouble not only deciding what beer to drink on her Bumble dates, but also what beer to bring to parties. To help her out, Nick suggested trying to figure out what flavors she likes based on her favorite foods. “Instead of asking ‘What’s your favorite beer?’ to make a recommendation, I usually say, ‘What’s your favorite food?’

On Pairing Beer with Food

  • Regardless of what you are eating, make sure to get a beer that you will enjoy
  • Don’t worry about getting a beer you are not too excited about just because you think it will pair better
  • Think about food flavors you are in the mood for (not necessarily what you are eating at the time), and set your Palate in Barly to match
  • Let Barly choose you the best-rated beer available that matches those flavors
  • Think about choosing something that won’t ruin your ability to taste your food, but also won’t be overwhelmed by the taste of your food. For instance, a beer with a lot of bitterness might not be great with a creamy alfredo, but a hoppy beer could be just what you need with that spicy curry. A refreshing pilsner can be great with some fresh veggies, but probably wouldn’t stand up to a well-spiced steak

Bringing Beer to Parties

  • If you know anything about your host, consider what they might like to eat for their last meal and bring beer with a similar flavor profile
  • Try to find something with unique flavors that are generally accessible to beer lovers and haters alike (e.g. fruit, chocolate)

Whatever the situation, having a beer expert in your pocket will help ensure you and your friends continue to drink better beer. To read the whole article, head over to thestoryofmylife.com/how-to/beer-guide-how-to-choose-the-right-beer-anywhere.

Barly featured on CNET Top 5 Best Beer Apps!

By Hunter Knight | May 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

We are incredibly grateful to CNET editor Iyaz Akhtar and team for including us in their Top 5 Beer Apps! He does a great job highlighting the Snap, Palate, Nearby, and Search features that make it so easy to Find Beer You’ll Love! Remember, wherever you go, Barly can point out the best and nearest places to find craft beer and tell you what is on tap!

Please help us by spread the word about Barly and craft beer by sharing this video and by letting us know if you know someone who might like to feature/interview us!

Barly is live for iOS

By Nick | September 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

We’ve been hard at work since our last post to port your personal bartender from Android over to iOS. Today, we’re incredibly excited to announce that Barly is live for iPhone! We’ve had an awesome group of people helping us test it to get it ready for a public release, and we are so proud to say that you can download it today to help you find beer you’ll love. Right this second.

Head over to https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/barly-personal-beer-expert/id1090690066 to download Barly for iPhone. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback, and your ratings in the App Store (as well as the Play Store!) will help us continue to grow and improve the app for you.

 

Pint/Counterpint: No, AB InBev buying craft breweries is not a good thing

By Nick | December 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

A few days ago we posted Barly COO Craig Vermeyen’s take on big brewers acquiring craft breweries. Our Chief Tech Officer, Hunter Knight, adamantly disagrees. We’re glad to keep this debate going. Here’s Hunter’s rebuttal, with Craig’s original post in block quotes:

I think AB InBev acquiring craft breweries is a good thing. There, I said it.

It’s going to be very difficult to quantify what counts as a “good” thing when it comes to acquisitions like this, but I think you can draw some parallels between independent brewing and independent music (e.g. “punk” a few decades ago). Once the big boys (in this case, major record labels) find something that is increasing in popularity, they will quickly throw money at it to cash-in on what they see as a trend. Is it good for major record labels to sign independent musical acts, or should we be very suspicious of how the musical product might be affected?

AB InBev has no reason to start making bad beer at these craft breweries, or run them into the ground in any other way. Let’s face it. AB InBev has some smart business guys making these acquisition decisions. They are making these decisions because they are scared. They are scared because they see the shift from their crap to better beer. The craft beer market is expected to hit 20% of all beer sales by 2020, so if AB InBev doesn’t want to go the way of AOL, they need to change with the changing market. In order to succeed in the changing market, they need to have beers to sell that appeal to the craft demographic. Therefore, we craft beer lovers will continue to get a tasty product from the breweries AB InBev owns.

I feel that InBev has every incentive to increase the margins on their newly acquired asset. This will be done by reducing the cost of ingredients, while keeping prices at the low end the range of craft beers with which it will compete. Lower cost ingredients will almost invariably degrade the quality of the product, but any losses here can easily be overcome by the marketing department and guaranteed shelf space, by a long shot.

Every fiscal quarter, there will be pressure to increase profit margins, the only metric for which the acquired brewery will be responsible. As much as any pre-acquisition staff may want to maintain quality, and as much freedom as they will purport to have, the continued improvement of their product’s profitability will be the only thing between them and a board meeting leading to their ouster or liquidation of the brewery.

These aren’t “Acquihires” like you hear about in Silicon Valley, where a tech giant is really buying a startup’s “intellectual capital”: its key personnel. Rather, it’s actually “Acquibranding”, where the Big Beer label is looking to cash in on the “branding capital” amassed by the acquired brewery. The continued excellence of their product is practically irrelevant. If you’re on the East Coast and you’ve heard nothing but good things about Sculpin, and maybe you’ve never had it or only had it once, you will be extremely excited once the increased post-acquisition distribution plops a six-pack on your local store’s shelves. You will relish in the victory of securing such long-sought loot. Then you will go home and quickly pop open your first bottle. You will love every drop of it, because this is Sculpin! Never will it enter your head that this Sculpin has adjuncts not present in the old recipe, and the hops were swapped for another variety that tastes similar, but more importantly costs 33% less (someone got a nice promotion for that, I assure you).

As for the AOL aspect, their technology was outmoded, not improved upon. While the price comparison with dial-up vs. broadband is an apt one, the value proposition is not necessarily so. Much of craft beer’s value over mass-produced comes from its quality, which doesn’t have an equivalent when it comes to internet access. Both dial-up and broadband have roughly equivalent reliability, but the measureable speed can be 100x higher for broadband, at only 2-4x the cost. That’s not an improvement in quality, that’s a game-changer for the majority of users. When it comes to the more ethereal measure of “quality”, I fear that there will always be a plurality of beer drinkers that will gravitate towards the blandest, cheapest, buzz-inducing brews, and the best we can aspire toward is an ever-increasing slice of the total beer-drinking pie.

AB InBev doesn’t make good beer, so I’d rather they at least buy other people’s good beer to sell to us. We all know that AB InBev is not known for complex and flavorful beers. So if they are going to continue to own a big share of the market, why not be excited that some of the beers they can sell us are now complex and flavorful? Sure, they could have just decided to start brewing better beers, but they know that we die-hard craft beer fans would never go near them. With this acquisition model, we get the beer we already love more readily, and AB InBev sees the financial benefits of an established brand with an existing following.

I see a parallel here with the business practices of McDonalds. If McDonalds wanted to make great food, they would! So why don’t they? Profit margins! They, being very smart businesspeople (on that point there can be no doubt), have discovered that if you can create a habit-forming product that maximizes profit, you have a winner. Simply iterate (and innovate!) on that idea into perpetuity. By habit-forming, I mean that by its very consumption it results in dopamine increase in the reward pathway. I will admit that McDonalds smells intoxicating whenever I drive by it or whenever a co-worker brings a bag back from lunch. But knowing that the prime directive of this corporation is to cut as many corners as possible with the presumption that they can still sell me their product, I cannot be bothered to partake.

Now apply these concepts to Big Beer. It really isn’t rocket science creating a great brew. With the right ingredients, the right equipment, and some expertise, you can make a beer that will make the biggest beer snob say “Damn!” The harder achievement may be consistently increasing profitability with only small, incremental hits to quality. As for the McDonald’s-like habit-forming, the intrepid, cost-cutting—er—“margin-enhancing” brewer need not worry, since, as an alcohol-containing product, the dopamine effect is built-in, and effectively independent of any appetizing quality of the product.

AB InBev can get craft beer more places, more quickly. I think everyone agrees that AB InBev can distribute beer better than most craft breweries. Having access to this distribution network will actually help grow the craft beer movement, and bring more exciting beer to regions like China and Russia that are currently essentially untapped markets for craft beer.

There is a reason InBev has better reach than any craft breweries: skirting the Three-Tier system (brewer, distributor, point-of-sale)! This system is integral to the 21st amendment, which ended Prohibition. But more on that in the next section…

If AB InBev is going to launch an incentive program, shouldn’t we be glad some of the beers that will be included are now the exact same beers that could have been forced out of stores by the program? AB InBev is already involved in “questionable” business practices to try and get their beer back on the shelves where craft beer is starting to take over. So why not let them put the craft beer they acquired back on the shelves of the distributors/businesses that have agreed to join their incentive program? If this program is going to catch on, I would much rather AB InBev had some good beer options to include in the program than get stuck with shelves full of Bud Light.

To me this is like being happy that our benevolent overlord, Emperor Palpatine, has graciously decided to handsomely reward planets for giving their Rebel tenants the boot and inviting the Empire to set up a base. “Good for those planets! At least now they’ve secured their protection from the Death Star and profited in the process!” No. You fight against that goddamn Death Star until it turns into pixie dust.

Same idea here. InBev is trying to skirt around the Three-Tier system by providing rebates (up to $1.5 million!) for those distributors that exhibit extreme (95%) loyalty to their products. The Three-Tier system is meant to prevent exactly this type of exclusivity, though for now it seems they have found what I hope is a temporary loophole. It is crucial that the craft beer-drinking public speak with their wallet and stay far away from these shenanigans. Better yet, reach out to your state and U.S. congresspersons and let them know you think what is going on here is wrong!

This $1.5 million is huge, considering a couple factors. Distributors, being intermediaries, are wholesalers, which is fine if you’re Costco and have immense annual volume, but not if your territory is only as large as your trucks can reach in a single shift before returning home. This rebate is a massive windfall, which is likely to become the difference between year-end profit or loss in coming years as these distributors come to expect this rebate and increase their operating cost outlays on enhancements like new trucks and warehouses. At that point, you can bet these distributors will be the most ardent defenders of the rebate (“You’ll be killing jobs!”), making it even more difficult to fix this injustice. As far as I’m concerned, this puts us right back onto a collision course with Prohibition, since it was exactly coercive business practices like these that were a contributing factor to the passing of the 18th amendment.

In summary, I don’t see this being a bad thing for the craft beer industry long term. Let’s be honest, there will always be plenty of craft breweries that decide not to “sellout”, or simply don’t make a smart acquisition choice for AB InBev. There will continue to be plenty of little guys around your neighborhood that you can still support if you choose, but now you will have the additional benefit of better beer being available at Chili’s or Cheesecake Factory next time you get dragged to a family function there.

While I agree that there will always be breweries that refuse to sell-out, I strongly disagree with the notion that Big Beer is the means by which craft beer can reach a broader audience, at least not craft beer as we know it. Just as I wouldn’t expect McDonalds to find a way to make steakhouses more popular, and just as I wouldn’t expect capitulation to the Galactic Empire to be a great way to spread freedom throughout the Galaxy.

Do you work for a craft brewery that’s been acquired? Had a favorite beer go downhill after being bought? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Pint/Counterpint: AB InBev buying craft breweries a good thing?

By Nick | December 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here at Barly, part of our love of craft beer expresses itself as spirited debate. Hearing all of the sides of an argument is a great way to learn about a topic, so as part of our effort to educate the world about beer we’re starting a series called Pint/Counterpint.

A few days ago our COO, Craig Vermeyen, got into a conversation on our Twitter page with someone adamantly against big breweries like Anheuser-Busch buying up craft breweries. Craig got to thinking, and sent our team his opinion on the matter. Our chief tech officer, Hunter Knight, disagreed, and we’ll have his counter argument up in a few days. For now, here are Craig’s thoughts on the matter:

I think AB InBev acquiring craft breweries is a good thing. There, I said it.

Sure, I understand the general argument of these craft breweries being “sellouts,” but let’s look at this from a practical point of view:

AB InBev has no reason to start making bad beer at these craft breweries, or run them into the ground in any other way. Let’s face it. AB InBev has some smart business guys making these acquisition decisions. They are making these decisions because they are scared. They are scared because they see the shift from their crap to better beer. The craft beer market is expected to hit 20% of all beer sales by 2020, so if AB InBev doesn’t want to go the way of AOL, they need to change with the changing market. In order to succeed in the changing market, they need to have beers to sell that appeal to the craft demographic. Therefore, we craft beer lovers will continue to get a tasty product from the breweries AB InBev owns.

AB InBev doesn’t make good beer, so I’d rather they at least buy other people’s good beer to sell to us. We all know that AB InBev is not known for complex and flavorful beers. So if they are going to continue to own a big share of the market, why not be excited that some of the beers they can sell us are now complex and flavorful? Sure, they could have just decided to start brewing better beers, but they know that we die-hard craft beer fans would never go near them. With this acquisition model, we get the beer we already love more readily, and AB InBev sees the financial benefits of an established brand with an existing following.

AB InBev can get craft beer more places, more quickly. I think everyone agrees that AB InBev can distribute beer better than most craft breweries. Having access to this distribution network will actually help grow the craft beer movement, and bring more exciting beer to regions like China and Russia that are currently essentially untapped markets for craft beer.

If AB InBev is going to launch an incentive program, shouldn’t we be glad some of the beers that will be included are now the exact same beers that could have been forced out of stores by the program? AB InBev is already involved in “questionable” business practices to try and get their beer back on the shelves where craft beer is starting to take over. So why not let them put the craft beer they acquired back on the shelves of the distributors/businesses that have agreed to join their incentive program? If this program is going to catch on, I would much rather AB InBev had some good beer options to include in the program than get stuck with shelves full of Bud Light.

In summary, I don’t see this being a bad thing for the craft beer industry long term. Let’s be honest, there will always be plenty of craft breweries that decide not to “sellout”, or simply don’t make a smart acquisition choice for AB InBev. There will continue to be plenty of little guys around your neighborhood that you can still support if you choose, but now you will have the additional benefit of better beer being available at Chili’s or Cheesecake Factory next time you get dragged to a family function there.

I’m all about supporting mom and pop breweries, but when it comes to drinking better beer, I also want to have options in as many places as I can. Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Check back on Wednesday to read Hunter’s counterpint, and leave your thoughts in the comments!

Get to know a founder: Nick Norton

By Nick | December 26, 2015 | 0 Comments
CEO Nick Norton, playing guitar on a statue of a camel.

CEO Nick Norton, playing guitar on a statue of a camel.

To finish off our Get to know a founder series, today we’ve got Barly CEO Nick Norton. Nick cut his teeth in running music organizations and nonprofits, and is ecstatic to combine his skills with his love of beer. But we’ll let him say more about that.

What excites you about working on Barly?

One of my absolute favorite things is introducing people to new experiences, and Barly is a way to do that, with something I love (craft beer) for a crowd beyond the people I’m with at any given time. Plus I like helping things grow, and seeing this go from idea-we-had-in-a-bar to an app that anyone can download has been amazing.

How did you first get interested in beer?

Stone night at Porter’s Pub while I was an undergrad at UCSD, shortly after turning 21. I thought I disliked beer until I came across all the insane flavors in their anniversary series. I was there with friends, and visiting breweries and trying new beers became our group hobbie almost immediately. We definitely spent a lot of time at Hamilton’s.

What’s your favorite beer you’ve tried recently? How about an all time favorite?

Just last weekend I had Rip Current Brewing’s In The Curl, and I’m in love with it. Noble’s I Love It is another recent favorite. As for the old stand bys, Alpine Duet, Alesmith IPA, and Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous top the list, and maybe Rochefort No. 8, Three Philosophers, and Aventinus when the mood strikes. And I always say my all time favorite is Stone’s 12th anniversary stout. I could go on for a while…

What were you up to before founding this company?

Composing, running my music company Equal Sound, playing in a couple of bands with Craig (still am), and working on my PhD.

What do you do for fun?

This! In all seriousness, I try to do things for work that I don’t have to separate from what I love spending my time on. So if it’s working with my best friends to help people drink better beer, that sounds like a fun weekend to me. And if I’m out going to a show, that’s usually influencing or related to my music work. I guess the only non-beer/music thing I do for recreation is to try to get outdoors now and then.

Can you share a ridiculous story about the founders?

If I could, it would involve one of us sleeping in bath tubs often enough that it seems significant.

What are you currently working on for the company?

I’m looking for a bit of angel funding to get the iOS version fully developed, and to be able to bring Barly to more users. If you’d like to help out, drop me a line at nick@barlyapp.com.

Happy Holidays!

By Nick | December 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

barly_holidays

Get to know a founder: Hunter Knight

By Nick | December 23, 2015 | 0 Comments
Chief Technology Officer Hunter Knight literally, embodying Charles Barly with the help of his wife, Emily.

Chief Technology Officer Hunter Knight literally, embodying Charles Barly.

When we were struck by the idea for Barly at Waypoint Public House in San Diego about a year ago, the decision to move forward hinged largely on Hunter Knight’s “yeah, I could probably code that.” Wow are we thankful that he was right. Today, take a moment to get the know the man who makes Barly work.

What excites you about working on Barly?

Getting more involved in the craft brewing industry without starting one of a thousand new breweries, and shortening the amount of time that certain nameless very good friends may or may not sometimes/occasionally/often spend trying to select their first beer.

How did you first get interested in beer?

Being in San Diego, it is impossible to miss the options, and they seem to be growing everyday, to the point where the beers that seemed exotic 10 years ago are practically stand-bys now. Our friends in college created a sort-of synergistic fascination with discovering everything craft beer had to offer within a short period of time, once we were old enough to shop for our own beers consistently. I remember noting one day at Stone Escondido when we were all about 22 that it had been a great year of discovering craft beer. We’ve kept discovering ever since!

What’s your favorite beer you’ve tried recently? How about an all time favorite?

A great recent beer was Indra Kunindra, by Ballast Point. Great warmth in the gut! I was surprised by how polarizing it is! But I guess some people hate Indian Curry (or anything spicy), so I probably wouldn’t be interested in their opinions anyway. I have a great interest in beers that integrate spiciness or chilis well, but honestly I think most of them taste like garbage, with Habanero Sculpin being the only other real standout (hey look at that, another Ballast Point offering!).

What were you up to before founding this company?

Probably taking better care of myself and playing a few more video games.

What do you do for fun?

I really enjoy fantasy football, messing around with “maker” chips like raspberry pi and arduino, and playing football or softball.

Can you share a ridiculous story about the founders?

I’m the most ridiculous one in the group, by far. All the stories would just be about me.

What are you currently working on for the company?

Changing iOS from “Coming Soon” to “Now Available”!

Get to know a founder: Craig Vermeyen

By Nick | December 11, 2015 | 0 Comments
Barly chief operating officer Craig Vermeyen, looking suspiciously like he's about to get married.

Barly chief operating officer Craig Vermeyen, looking suspiciously like he’s about to get married.

Next up in our series of interviews with company founders is chief operating officer Craig Vermeyen. While we work on coding and getting Barly to users, Craig works to keep us all working. He also looks fantastic in a bow tie. Here’s Craig:

What excites you about working on Barly?

The lack of red tape between idea and execution. I have worked at a large pharmaceutical company for several years, and it takes forever to get anything done. It’s so awesome being your own boss on a project you are passionate about and just saying “oh yeah that’s a good idea” and then releasing a new build on the Play store later that week. Very fulfilling. I love efficiency.

How did you first get interested in beer?

It’s hard to avoid good craft beer when you go to college in San Diego. I remember trying Green Flash’s West Coast IPA at the pub on the UCSD campus shortly after turning 21 and thinking “what the hell have I been drinking before this?” From there it just became something that kind of spiraled out of control with my group of friends, all trying to impress each other with the beers we were able to find at the local bottle shop.

What’s your favorite beer you’ve tried recently? How about an all time favorite?

I was lucky enough to find a bottle of Alpine Duet right as it was getting put on the shelf a couple of weeks ago, and man, that’s hard to beat. Thanks for increasing Alpine distribution, Green Flash! It’s actually in a Green Flash-molded bottle now too, which was funny.

All time, I have to stick with Sculpin. I’ll sub in some Grapefruit Sculpin sometimes on a balmy summer day, but in general you just can’t beat the citrusy/hoppy balance Ballast Point has put together in their Amarillo showcase.

What were you up to before founding this company?

Well my wife will say I was spending more time with her, but I think sadly I have seen time spent on music diminish more than time spent with the wife. I still get to jam with one of my three bands (Honest Iago, Better Looking People With Superior Ideas, and Jilly Boel) as often as I can though!

What do you do for fun?

If none of the other band mates are available to jam, you can usually find me on my super cushy couch in front of my beautiful TV re-watching episodes of The Wire or catching up on Game of Thrones.

Can you share a ridiculous story about the founders?

Probably not, but it involves one of us permanently damaging his retinas because the sun was “inviting him in.”

What are you currently working on for the company?

I am helping to pitch our company to potential VC firms and other investors in hopes that we get enough money for an iOS release soon. Keep your fingers crossed! Or if you want to volunteer your coding services, that is even better.

If you would indeed like to volunteer your native iOS coding services, or are interested in investing, we would love to hear from you! Please send us a message at info@barlyapp.com.

Get to know a founder: Mike Weil

By Nick | December 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Hi there! Welcome to Barly’s Better Beer Blog. We’ll occasionally post fun beer news and educational materials, updates about the app, the company, our team, and stuff like that here. To get us started, here’s an interview with our founding Chief Product Officer, Mike Weil.

Barly chief product officer Mike Weil, feeding a giraffe.

Barly chief product officer Mike Weil feeding a giraffe.

What excites you about working on Barly?

I am excited to share the world of craft beer with others, plus learn more about beer myself. I also enjoy designing the app and improving the user interface for a more positive experience.

How did you first get interested in beer?

Towards the end of college I began trying different varieties of beer besides the common light lagers. My friend Nick [a Barly co-founder] helped introduce me to new styles and flavors I had never tried before. Over time, I noticed my palate evolve and I started to appreciate more and more complex beers.

What’s your favorite beer you’ve tried recently? How about an all time favorite?

Recently, Stone Xocoveza Mocha Stout. One of my all time favorite beers is Alesmith Speedway Stout.

What were you up to before founding this company?

Working as a water resources engineer for the State of California and hopefully helping to prevent a massive drought and/or flood.

What do you do for fun?

Traveling, camping, hiking, basketball, live music, comedy shows, pub trivia, and of course drinking and occasionally brewing craft beer.

Can you share a ridiculous story about the founders?

I don’t think I can, but it involves male genitalia and a piñata.

What are you currently working on for the company?

Currently, I am designing a new feature for the app where users can view nearby bars and see what’s on tap, before they even arrive at the bar!

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