What is Craft Check?
It’s an app. For your iPhone. Or I guess for your iPad if you’re the kind of person that uses a tablet to do things other people do with their phones.
It lets you know whether the beer you’re looking at is from an authentic craft brewery or just a mass-market imitation craft beer - either by scanning the barcode or by searching the brewery name.
Who made Craft Check?
Barrett was the one standing in the middle of BevMo wondering which of the beers he was looking at were fake craft breweries and which were real. He was also the one who put together the database and keeps it updated, so feel free to yell at him if he got something wrong.
Rudy said “we can solve that problem,” and handled the “listening to Barrett ramble on about bad ways to build it before suggesting we build it in a much better fashion” part, as well as the actual development.
The inimitable Kristin Myers Harvey handled our design and created our logo (and gratefully hasn’t yelled at us for messing up her beautiful designs and layout a bit in this first release - don’t worry Kristin, we’re fixing it!)
What’s “craft brewery” mean?
The Brewers Association has their official definition here, but the gist of it is that if the brewery is owned by a company that sponsors a stadium, intentionally misspells the word “light” or is the “official beer” of anything other than your evening, it’s probably not a craft brewery. Basically, smaller breweries more focused on brewing good beer than on corporate beverage domination.
Why do you only verify American breweries as craft breweries?
The truth is that in most of the rest of the world there isn’t an actual definition for craft brewery - it’s a completely subjective term. Some countries like Canada have several competing definitions (see this 2011 post from The Year of Beer) and most of UK and Europe doesn’t have any prevailing definition at all, as outlined in this post from the excellent BrewDog. So until there’s a larger consensus we feel kind of obligated to stick with what’s agreed-upon.
It’s a problem worth solving and something we’re taking seriously though. We’re looking into different ways to give our completely subjective thumbs-up to some breweries that we’d consider honorary craft breweries in our own eyes, but that don’t meet the existing definition because they’re not American breweries. So keep your eyes peeled for some ideas in the near future, we’re hoping to roll it out soon. Until then though, we’re sticking to what we know we can verify: breweries that officially meet the Brewers Association’s definition of “Craft Brewery.”
Aren’t there enough craft beer apps?
There are a lot of craft beer apps but none that specifically did what we wanted, which was let you pick up a beer, scan it, and immediately know whether or not you were holding a beer from a craft brewery. If you want to know what your friends are drinking, get ratings and opinions, or find out what breweries are nearby, there are better apps for that. If you want a simple yes or no (or the occasional maybe, in hopefully decreasingly common occurrences) then we’ve got you covered.
You screwed up/Why isn’t my favorite brewery listed/This is madness I tell you, madness!
Well…probably, yeah. We had to put together all the information by hand (if it was already easily available, we wouldn’t have had to make Craft Check in the first place!) so mistakes do happen. We’re a very imperfect three-person crew, and Barrett’s typing is occasionally so bad he once misspelled “fantastic” by starting it with a Q. With that said though, we’re committing to monthly updates to both fix mistakes and reflect changes in the marketplace. We want every update to get us closer to zero mistakes and missing breweries, so if you find any let us know and we’ll fix it.
But I really like [insert name of macrobrew here]! Why can’t I just drink what I want?
Look, far be it for us to tell you what to drink. Beer is incredibly personal and everyone’s tastes are different. Hell, we’d be lying if we told you we didn’t occasionally grab a Guinness or a Blue Moon. We’re not fundamentally opposed to macrobreweries and we don’t think they’re inherently evil. We do, however, prefer to support local businesses and think it’s more than a little dishonest for multinational corporate beverage conglomerates to trade on the passion and hard work of thousands of small craft breweries who can’t comprehend the idea of “compromise” (let alone “multibillion dollar marketing budgets”) while simultaneously making it harder for them to compete in a marketplace.
So by all means drink what you like, but since the big guys are going to so much effort to trick you into thinking you’re buying from small craft breweries, we’re going to keep doing our best to level the playing field.