We’ve been waiting a looong time for in-person beer festivals to return. This made the 2021 Iowa Craft Brew Festival special. Our beer festival app was in full effect (with a few new features!) and the Best of Fest Award was up for grabs. It was great to catch up with so many friends from all around Iowa, while making a bunch of new ones as well.
The Iowa Brewers Guild has traditionally hosted #ICBF in the heart of downtown Des Moines and while the urban vibe was always cool, this year’s shift to a more spacious, natural environment was well-received. The live music was fun too! Below is our festival summary and a few photos to highlight this triumphant return to brewfests.
#BrrrFest was a blast.
We returned to Coralville, Iowa for their 9th annual winter beer festival. Our beer festival app was back in action and easier to manage than ever. Event organizers spent no time herding tigers, yet 100% of the 61 vendors had their BrrFest beer lists looking sharp! This allowed 3,000+ attendees to rate any of the 300 craft beers being poured. In fact, before the doors even opened, 3,323 beers were added to wish lists, which continues to prove our platform builds hype, sells tickets and is appreciated by hop heads planning their own brewfest experience.
Once the doors opened, our team enjoyed sharing stories of our good friend Dan from Firetrucker and celebrating endless good beer with a community of beer lovers and the artists who brew them. Attendees rated more beers than last year’s event and after a tight race that saw beers going up and down the leaderboard, the Iowa Brewers Guild was proud to deliver our Best of Fest Award to Big Grove Brewery. Here’s the milestone moment and a few words from our winners on video, as well as, our full 2020 festival summary and highlight photos. Cheers!
#BrrrFest was a sold out winter beer festival and a hoppy good time.
We had a blast collaborating with the event organizers, breweries and over 2,500 thirsty beer lovers before, during and after this event. We’re proud to share our beer festival app worked flawlessly and fueled fresh industry data that was fun to analyze. Organized and well executed by a team of volunteers, this 8th annual beer festival united 61 Iowa breweries, cideries and distilleries for an awesome brewfest experience. Here’s our BrrrFest summary!
This was the third full implementation of our beer festival app and we’re thrilled to share it was a milestone event. Our new Vendor Portal received 100% adoption from 61 different breweries who each setup their own vendor profile beforehand and agreed the app onboarding was easy as key lime pie. It was also a pleasure collaborating with the BrrrFest organizing committee, the City of Coralville and once again, our good friends at the Iowa Brewers Guild.
One of our favorite data points from this event, was the pre-event traffic and user research. As you can see above, 3,961 beers were added to a wish list prior to the doors opening at this beer festival! After three different types of events, it’s clear using FliteBrite to showcase a beer festival’s vendors and beer list allows organizing teams to connect with thirsty attendees as they tap into events. Here’s one more peek at the BrrrFest app:
Along with enjoying this FliteBrite app for our own adventures (Ben tracked 100% of the 25 beers he tasted!), we love watching beer enthusiasts track memorable brews that used to be forgotten amongst the malty madness. Key takeaways were that BrrrFest is a blast, but beyond just a great time, the FliteBrite beer festival app is now easier than ever to implement, fun for everyone and we’re now ready to scale!
Today marks the maiden voyage for how vendors can interact with our beer festival app. This new feature was unveiled as our new Vendor Portal sent invite emails to each of the 60 vendors that will be showcase at the upcoming BrrrFest 2019.
We’re so excited to be the official app fueling this craft beer event and we’ll be on-site to experience this indoor beer festival that celebrates the beers of winter and the brewers who make them!
Today’s mini milestone was the key first step that invites vendors to easily setup their profile and quickly create their beer list.
As we did some final preparation for deployment, Dave at SingleSpeed Brewing Company got to be the first guinea pig. With just a smart link and without any direction, here’s what he had to say about the profile setup and adding 7 beers to his real-time list of things being served at his booth for this upcoming beer festival.
“Are you guys kidding me? I handled that in what seemed like 3-4 minutes. Well done guys!”
We also tested a text message link with Scott from Firetrucker, so that was another passed test using the manual vendor invite feature we built in to aid event organizers. Scott liked the quick password and profile setup, and is excited to add his beers next time he’s at his computer.
We’re excited to hear from everyone else as invites land in a bunch of inboxes and to see how everything holds up as we unleash this sharp new way for organizers to save time, while vendors benefit from a slick tool set to make them look sweet. We’re giving the vendors Thurs-Sunday to setup their profile and beer lists before we announce the official BrrrFest Beer List next week!
Once vendors get setup, we’ll open the app to thirsty beer lovers excited to see their full beer list for the first time. That’s always fun watching as excited attendees get signed in with Untappd, build a little wish list to plan their visit and pick up last minute tickets as they get ready for an enlightened beer sampling experience inside another great craft beer event fueled by FliteBrite.
Thanks to the Bens at FliteBrite, the Iowa Brewers Guild, the BrrrFest organizing crew and all our brewery friends who will hopefully enjoy the beer list manager in our new Vendor Portal 🍻
Here’s how it all went down. As our beer flight app was being piloted at local restaurants, breweries and bars, our team collaborated with the Iowa Brewers Guild to use our evolving smart flight platform to connect beer-loving attendees with their tasting experience at live events nationwide. Feature ideas have now evolved into reality and we’re thrilled to announce the unveiling of our brand new beer event app at The 2018 Iowa Craft Brew Festival!
“It’s been such a pleasure collaborating with so many industry allies throughout Iowa and this partnership with the Iowa Brewers Guild is special. Together, we’ve build a fun way for thirsty attendees to enjoy, track, rate and share their favorite beers at this year’s Iowa Craft Brew Festival!” -Ben McDougal
Here are key features attendees will enjoy:
Special thanks to J. Wilson, Kelsey Seay and the Bens on our own team. Together, we’ve built something event organizers, vendors and attendees will all appreciate! We look forward to seeing everyone at the Iowa Craft Brew Festival and we hope everyone has fun drinking, tracking, rating and sharing your favorite craft beers. Cheers 🍻
Trivia nights are fun and have become increasingly popular. It’s an easy event to host in almost any brewery, brewpub, restaurant or bar and adds one more reason for customers to head your way.
We know our electronic beer flight platform provides an enhanced customer experience, but since we enjoyed craft beer trivia at CBC17, we’ve added a few new angles to utilize as you bring #SmartFlights online.
Whether it’s a part of a trivia night or not, we’ve always been intrigued by the idea of flipping the ordering process. Instead of your serving staff taking the order, why can’t the customer have the option of setting up their smart beer flight? This not only saves time, but what if we used our platform to serve up a twist of fun. After you fulfill the order, imagine the beer flight being delivered with a little trivia game. Instead of highlighting which beer is which, we can now serve the flight with details hidden and then after a few guesses, the correct answers can dynamically appear! You know beer lovers will appreciate the chance to showoff, but at the core, you’re avoiding wasted time of people standing at the bar not knowing what they want, while engaging customers with a little brewtech gamification.
Many trivia nights involving craft beer include a tasting round where participants are invited to sample a few beers and then determine which is which. Using smart flights and built during our
CBC17 event at Penn Social, we have a more interactive way to deliver this beer tasting round. Start by determining the beers you’ll serve. Let’s assume you’re serving four to each person/team. Mark the sample cups with a 1, 2, 3 and 4. Make sure you pour the right beer into its assigned glass, and then deliver them in a random order to the trivia participant. Once received, an interactive beer tasting begins. To submit their answers, each team brings the flight back to the trivia organizer and received points for each beer correctly identified. You could add variances into this, such as styles, types of specific ingredients and more. It’s fun, super easy and offers a chance for customers to learn, rate and share what they like about each item served.
With our online dashboard that allows establishment owners to manage their active beer menu, one sneaky, but especially unique way of using smart flights on trivia night, is to actually hid answers within the details associated with different beers. All beer data automatically loads with accurate details from Untappd as you add new beers on your active menu, but all this information can be edited to include anything you want. Whether that’s a little promotional content or an answer to be found during trivia, we love the idea of a speed round that awards the people who can find the answer hidden, but still easy to find within their smart flights.
With our digital experience, the opportunities are endless, but let’s close with a few general thoughts. There are dedicated companies who can provide trivia nights, such as Geeks Who Drink, who makes this even easier to execute, but what have you done to make trivia successful at your establishment? Have you tried anything that didn’t go over well? When do you host trivia nights? We always suggest an early evening event on a slower weekday. We like Tuesdays for the memorable naming effect of calling it “Trivia Tuesday”, but you know if/how a trivia night will work best.
Engaging gamification paired with big data is a powerful combination and we’ve enjoyed exploring how FliteBrite can bring trivia nights to life. Whether it’s enhancing your trivia night or another hot idea, our team is here to break barriers and would love to hear how we can continue pushing the limits of your smart beer flight experience. Cheers!
We unleashed #SmartFlights at The 2017 Craft Brewers Conference!
After years of development, it was surreal to officially unveil our company and the future of beer flights at the industry’s largest event of the year. As you may have seen in our CBC17 preview article, this was an important event where we wanted to make a big impact. As you can see in the photos below, we had an awesome booth, enjoyed all sorts of adventure and loved sharing our innovative product with tons of attendees from all over the world. Like we did in our CBC16 recap, let’s take you on a ride through our trip to Washington DC. Hang on…here we go!
After arriving the night before, our three-person team packed up and rolled into downtown DC. The venue for CBC was once again massive and after checking in, we hauled everything to where we’d call home the next three days. Setup was smooth and our hot little booth looked sweet!
Once setup was done, we found a random spot to grab some beers and do some final prep work. The “remote office” we chose became the destination for everyone from North Carolina, as the NC Beer Happy Hour got underway. We tapped in and meet a bunch of great people, before heading to the night’s big event.
The opening reception at CBC is always epic and this year was no different. We arrived at the Smithsonian’s Natural Museum of American History, where of course, great craft beer was served, but also tons of fun things to experience. After some time there, we strolled out to the middle of the national mall. This was a special moment, as Ben, Sinclair and Jake all enjoyed a few brews and stood in between the Washington Monument and our nation’s capital. From there, we headed to the second location for this fun gathering. Once inside the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the night came to life. We had way too much fun closing things down, met some cool cats and captured some epic photos that we’ll enjoy forever.
With very little sleep, it was time to do what we came there to do. Booth 1640 became a little hot spot in the massive expo hall and it was awesome to see so much interest in our new technology. We met all sorts of brewery owners and industry professionals and even plugged our product into a few other booths throughout the event. Thanks again Grandstand, Barth Haas Group, Brewd and Sahm! In short, Day 1 was a great start to our three day adventure in DC!
Day 2 was the best day of CBC17. Our booth buzzed with activity all day long and our after party with Sam Adams and Digital Pour was a hit. As you can see below, one obvious highlight was meeting the crew from Sam Adams. One of the fathers of craft beer, Jim Koch, actually had a chance to play around with our product and had fun snapping some photos with Ben. Penn Social was an awesome host and we even came up with a new way to use our smart paddles within the beer trivia event. Thanks again to our friends (and booth neighbors) at Digital Pour, Penn Social and Sam Adams for such a fun evening.
Once we closed down the party at Penn Social, our crew flew over to catch the end of the Iowa Beer Social. It was awesome to walk into a room full of friends, Ben turned on his electronic shoes and the night got a little out of control from there.
The final day of CBC was a struggle. You could tell that all of the 13,000+ attendees were exhausted from such a crazy week and the mood throughout the event felt like zombieland. Nonetheless, we pushed through and generated another day full of new introductions and continued interest in our electronic serving system.
Along with meeting new friends from Beer Advocate, one highlight came right at the end of the show. We had packed up our booth and were walking off the show floor. As we walked past the Brewers Association’s area, Ben stopped to say thanks for all their help. As he randomly walked up to say hello, they were literally in the middle of talking about FliteBrite, with our promo paddle in their hands! The timing of our visit could not have been scripted any better, so Ben took some time to share our story and walked them through the world’s first electronic beer flight paddle.
We crashed back at the house and had a fun evening of reflection. Friday we did a little sight seeing and left DC with a mixture of emotions. Our formal unveiling had gone big at the Craft Brewers Conference, we had a bunch of breweries, restaurants and bars from throughout the country sign up for a free trial, and there was an exciting sense of accomplishment, but we also heard all sort so of valuable feedback and know there’s a lot more work to be done.
The simple fact that we’ll be in our nation’s capital for the largest gathering of brewers is awesome, but we’re stepping it up this year and are ready to take orders from nationwide attendees.
To make it easy to secure your own smart beer flight paddles, we’ll be hanging out in one of the hall’s hot spots, Booth 1640. In fact, here’s your first look at the Craft Brewers Conference 2017 Exhibit Hall and where to find FliteBrite on April 10-13, 2017!
You heard it here first.
Inside the exhibit hall, we’re literally next door neighbors with our friends from Digital Pour (1636) and just a flight glass away from Grandstand Glassware & Apparel (1837). We can all enjoy two beer stations (red) on each side of our booth and being able to stop by all sorts of other friends in the exhibit hall this April. BREWD (1023) will be in the house, along with other friends like Track Track Malting (654) and Draft Magazine (424)!
Along with your first smart beer flight experience, we’ll be giving away fun swag at Booth 1640. We’ll have our new customer coasters on hand with a new collection of shirts and a few more surprises for the first breweries and restaurants who secure their own fleet of electronic beer flight paddles.
With a fun booth in the heart of DC’s largest exhibit hall, we are ready to deliver, but you know we’re just as excited for the after parties. In fact, we’re excited to announce a special event we’ll be hosting with Digital Pour at Penn Social on Wednesday (4/12) night! More details are on the way, but #SmartFlights will be paired with trivia and a ton of fun. We’re also excited for the annual #IowaBeerSocial, as that’s always a great time to connect with all our Iowa allies!
After CBC16 in Philly last year, the FliteBrite crew can’t wait to reconnect with everyone and we’d invite you to follow our #CBC17 adventures. Take a peek at our matte black beer paddles before the rush of CBC17, then connect with us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. If you’re attending the Craft Brewers Conference in DC, we also invite you to shoot us a note so we can reserve you a time to experience one of the hottest new brewtech products on the show floor.
Cheers to this exciting announcement for our company, the monumental opportunity and all the people who make craft beer so much fun!
When you talk business startups, it’s often said that team comes first, and then an idea with the market it will impact. The team at FliteBrite is complimentary in a crazy sort of way and we’re lucky to have some of the top talent around working together to bring FliteBrite to life.
One of the team’s latest little side ideas was to all listen to an audiobook by Seth Godin, called We Are All Weird. Ben has listened to many of his audiobooks, such The Icarus Deception and Tribes, and seems to swear by Godin’s writings. Anyways, it was an easy file exchange and has inspired the title and slightly off-topic nature of this short story.
Ok. So as you listen and learn from Seth, one interesting connection we’ve noticed is that the friendly craft beer community, is absolutely full of fun people who enjoy being weird. Not an alienating type of weird, but a weird that challenged the status quo and what it means to be normal. Normal is boring. People want weird.
No longer are we the mass crowd all drinking the same lagers. In fact, it’s almost like the funkier someone can brew up a great craft beer, the more we all appreciate the effort and that’s so cool!
From homebrewers to the biggest breweries in town, it feels like everyone who is passionate about the beer they brew, has made a choice to break loose from the status quo. Like so much of our world in the connected era, choice is everywhere, attention is almost like a currency and tribes grow faster with so much available communication online. It’s more interesting choosing to be weird. Being weird means you’re choosing to challenge the status quo in whatever way that may be. It’s more interesting to make your passion something that also results in a paycheck, and we’re sure you enjoy working with your team who can also be supported through your leadership.
The epic battle of our generation is between the status quo of mass, and the never ceasing tide of weird.#WeAreAllWeird
— Ben McDougal (@BENovator) August 25, 2016
To stand out and to have more people talking more often, and more in tune with the beer and brands you create. The craft beer community has definitely been one of the very best parts of building FliteBrite and we know many of you are in the restaurant, brewpub or bar scene. It’s fun, haha! It’s also challenging and modern breweries are not a small investment to start or easy to run. It takes a true commitment to bring a decent sized, profitable brewery to town. Even more resources and expertise can be required if you choose to tap into the opportunity of distributing your craft beer in cans or bottles. In short, the craft beer industry is a growing industry where owners and management must stay smart to survive, but stay ahead to thrive.
Fortunately, many of these folks are going big and everyone loves it all. Serving craft beer is almost a stacked bet if you’re passionate about your business. People don’t ever seem disappointed with too much choice when it comes to craft beer and they’ll keep coming back as you expand the options you serve on your tap line! Why not get weird, creative and have fun with your brews on tap! The best part? You’ll generate more intrigue (and profits) as you also serve more beer flights on smart paddles that make you the absolute talk of the town.
— Ben McDougal (@BENovator) August 25, 2016
You’ve brewed a taste unlike any other and for the first time, your thoughtful brand, creative names and quick features of all your brews can now be truly connected to the beer lovers you create. People have never seen anything like FliteBrite! They’ll remember you being weird and also unlock a new level of connected loyalty towards your brand.
Yes, leasing a collection of smart paddles costs a bit more than paper and pencil or messy chalkboards, but these things sell more beer, make you look awesome, generate valuable data and introduce a new level of customer engagement. Whether you’re the owner, head brewer, marketing guru, management of bartending staff, you’ll see your brand being represented the way you want through the interactivity of a beer flight, while helping to support a more connected, entertaining and even educational beer flight experience.
FliteBrite is proud to be building our technology within the craft beer community and are having fun connecting with establishments throughout the country, who are all ready for the future of beer flights. Let’s chat about you bringing some fresh weird into your establishment today! Let us know how many paddles you want on our order form here: http://www.FliteBrite.com/pre-order/
The craft beer industry has evolved and so has the way we enjoy our favorite beers. Let’s turn back the hands of time to discover how beer flights have evolved.
Alright, we’re not going to rewind to the beginning of time, but back in the 1800’s, everyone in the United States basically brewed their own beer. Made of really only water, barley, hops and yeast, beer has always been easy to come by. Even with early homebrewers and numerous breweries throughout the United States, a less connected world, poor distribution methods and the lack of technology kept beer primitive and limited an individual’s access to what we consider a beer flight. Our beer-loving ancestors surely enjoyed some form of beer tastings before the days of prohibition, but let’s be honest, it was probably warm beer and served by guys like this, haha!
Prohibition ended in 1933 and macrobreweries ruled the world until around 1980. Beer in the United States was predominantly light lagers and only produced by a handful of these large breweries. In fact, by the end of 1980, there were less than 100 breweries and industry experts predicted there would only be five brewing companies in the United States. Sadly, without any meaningful variety during this dark age of beer, there was still no need for beer flights.
Homebrewers inspired the modern craft beer industry. In fact, even today, many head brewmasters learn their craft from small batch experimentation. With homebrewing naturally leading to an increase in more diverse beers, more variety of beers began to surface. This led to a true renaissance within the craft beer industry between 1980 and 2000. According to the Brewers Association, the number of craft brewers in the United States went from eight in 1980, to 284 in 1990, and would push past 1,500 craft breweries by the year 2000!
Although the expanding craft beer industry was still dominated by macrobreweries, the modern beer flight emerged during this age of exploration. Consumers were being offered more beer choices from local breweries, which created an organic desire to sample craft beers together.
It took around 10 more years for craft beer to become truly mainstream, but by 2011, the United State surpasses 2,000 breweries and that’s when things really started to take off. Only two years later, that US brewery count would expand to over 3,000 and in 2016, it has boiled up to over 4,000 craft breweries nationwide with no signs of slowing down.
As the expansion of craft beer has evolved, so has the progression of beer itself. With what seems like a limitless combination of styles, flavors, colors and taste, the growing craft brew industry has naturally fueled consumer’s interest in beer flights. Whether it’s to sample all that a brewmaster has to offer or tapping into the simple joy of pairing craft beers together, the beer flight has become a key offering in taprooms, brewpubs, microbreweries and restaurants.
Even with the rise in beer flight popularity, the method for serving these tasty samplers have remained archaic. Yes, wooden paddles or metal holders still look cool and allow safe beer flight transportation, but how are customers able to identify which beer is which? Wet receipts, handwritten scribbles and messy chalkboards do allow us to share beer titles, but even if accurate beer information is present, there’s so much more to craft beers and perhaps more importantly, the customer connection is immediately cut the moment they leave! In a time where everything is connected and a world of information is at everyone’s fingertips, have we not come to expect more from our beer flight paddles?
We live in a connected era. The Internet has brought us all together and The Internet of Things has us connected to the things we love. Whether it’s how you call for a safe ride home or the smart home itself, your smartphone connects you to what’s important in life. We love great beer, right? Well isn’t it time the beer flight evolved to be more intelligent too?
Smart beer flight paddles are the future and you’re in the right place, because the future is now with FliteBrite. Brewery owners, taproom managers and restaurant professionals now have the ability to showcase accurate beer flight details while connecting with more engaged, tech savvy, craft beer loving customers. Interactive touchscreens, wireless technology and supporting mobile apps are unlocking a new era of smart beer flights.
The value of serving brighter beer flights does not end with just a boost in educational entertainment at craft breweries, brewpubs and restaurants. The Big Data behind each beer flight also allows owners to track meaningful analytics behind their beer flight activity and perhaps most important of all, become more connected with happy customers long after they return the beer paddles.
The beer nerds at FliteBrite invite you to the future of beer flights.
Let’s talk about bringing smart beer paddles your way this week.