Thirsty Thursday

New York craft beer app helps you find places to drink

Aline Peres Martins | Staff Writer

New York Craft Beer offers beer enthusiasts fun facts, beer history and locations of local breweries all in a tidy app.

The importance of craft brewing in New York state cannot be overstated. New York’s history of beer brewing goes back to 1808, when hops became a commercial crop, according to The New York Times. By 1840, the state had become the leader in hops production.

The Times also reports that before 1842, when New York City opened the Croton Aqueduct, “beer was safer to drink than water.” Brewers were the most distinguished families in New York. Murray, Beekman, Van Cortlandt and Rutgers families were all brewers. Even Matthew Vassar, the founder of Vassar College, once directed his family’s brewery.

To sip beer brewed in New York is to sip tradition and history.

The modern history of craft breweries is hefty. The number of breweries in New York grew from 95 in 2012 to 320 in 2016, according to The New York State Brewers Association. These breweries brought in $4 billion in 2012, ranking the state’s beer industry fourth in the country for economic impact.

With all these new breweries popping up, the average consumer needed a way to browse the craft beer selection. Earlier this year, The New York State Brewers Association debuted an app for beer lovers. On its website, the Association said that New York Craft Beer allows users to find breweries, learn about beer and create “beer tours” and check in to their favorite breweries.

In the app, stock photos of beer make for a crowded interface and difficult navigation. When I went to login with my Facebook account, it gave me an error. As a millennial who is not used to waiting for technology to work flawlessly, this was an unwelcome annoyance.

While the interface leaves something to be desired, if you are a beer aficionado, there is an option to see beer news, top rated breweries and nearby breweries right on the homepage.

On the bottom navigation bar, there is a “passport” feature, where the app uses geolocation to check into a brewery, marking that you have been there before, which was pretty nifty.

There is also a whole tab dedicated to beer knowledge, where users can search beers by style, brewery or name, and the app gives suggestions for different beers to try based on your personal favorites. Also nifty.

There’s also functionality that displays all the breweries within a six-mile radius of my location. The only thing missing was ratings to determine which was the best.

The closest brewery to the Syracuse University campus is Empire Brewing Company. The app gave a list of their beers, some details about the brewery and some pictures people have posted of their beer. Six people have checked into Empire since the app debuted. After looking at the beer list, I decided to order the Cream Ale.

I had seen the Empire Brewing Company Cream Ale on tap at a bar in New York City’s East Village a couple of weeks ago, so it jumped out at me when I saw it in the app.

When I arrived at the brewery late Tuesday night, there were a good amount of people there — maybe 30 — but ordering at the bar was quick.

The beer was creamy on top, but fairly light underneath. It felt like having the top of a good Guinness pour, but the beer of a fruity, crisp ale best suited to a patio on a warm, spring day.

The app is useful overall, and I got a good-tasting beer out of it. I would recommend downloading it for people who spend their free time going to breweries and pride themselves on their beer knowledge. Otherwise, it may take up more space than it’s worth—a good Google search every once in a while could get you the same information.

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