Oktoberfest may be officially coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean your celebrations have to. Brewers, developers, and entrepreneurs are using technology to disrupt the massive and traditional $300 billion beer industry…and it’s working. According to Brewers Association, craft breweries have doubled their market share since 2010, and in 2014, startups in the alcohol industry raised $100 million in venture capital. Even the big guys are taking note; AB InBev (the world’s largest brewer and maker of such artisanal suds as Budweiser), partnered with Techstars Connection earlier this year to launch a food and beverage accelerator with a technology bent. So while you prepare to put your lederhosen in storage, grab one more stein and see how these 11 Southern companies are brewing up change in the business of beer.
- Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, BrewPublik is the country’s first national e-commerce retailer for craft beer. The fast-growing, venture-backed startup offers curated craft beer delivery for home or office, using proprietary technology (coined the “Beergorithm”) to match customers’ taste profiles to brews they’ve never tried. Their services are currently available in Charlotte, Raleigh, San Francisco, and Charleston, and they plan expand into five more cities in the near future.
- Founded in 2013 in Austin, TX, Local Libations has developed software and hardware to help craft breweries, distributors, and retailers better manage logistics. Their BarFly tool geo-tracks kegs, monitors beer volume, and sends low-inventory or empty keg notifications that can be managed on mobile or the web. The company is part of Austin’s Capital Factory incubator and currently serves Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
- Greenville, SC-based Tavern is an iPhone app that helps beer aficionados discover new craft brews. Users can log feedback and notes on specific beers and quickly share their favorites with friends. The startup launched during the 2013 Iron Yard Accelerator.
- Based in Charlotte, NC, The Beer Exchange (BEX) is a web and mobile craft beer marketplace where beer lovers can buy or trade beer from anywhere in the country and have it shipped straight to their door. Features include unique trading profiles that list which beers a user has or wants, a self-updating “beer cellar,” and automatic matches to potential trading partners.
- Atlanta-based Table Tap is the first company worldwide to market and sell self-service draft beer technology. They’ve developed two widely used “P.Y.O.B” or Pour Your Own Beer tools, the TableTender® (beer taps connected to iPad ordering right at your table) and rWall (a self-serve wall tap system connected to a customer’s beer card). The company has garnered plenty of press, including mentions in CNN, Thrillist, and the LA Times.
- Founded in 2011 in Tampa, FL, Lilypad is an activity management platform for beverage sales teams. The web and mobile app includes account and time management features, as well as gamification (points, contests, maybe a little trash talking) that builds culture and helps beverage distribution teams better achieve sales goals.
- Based in Austin, TX, Crafted Pours is a reviews and ratings site for the craft beer industry. The site launched in mid-2013 with a simple interface for visitors to rank beer, breweries, and homebrew recipes based on the site’s Beer Rating Guidelines. Registered Crafted Pours members can also write reviews, contribute to the forums section, and submit new beers or breweries. To date, Crafted Pours has gathered tens of thousands of reviews on over 4,000 craft beers.
- BeerThirty isn’t just how you feel at 4:00pm every Friday. It’s a free, Atlanta-based app that allows users to see what’s on tap in their area. The app pulls real-time beer inventory data from bars, breweries, and growler shops using the brewerydb api, so users don’t have to rely on sometimes (read: always) inaccurate online menus. Currently available in Atlanta, BeerThirty plans to expand to Asheville and Birmingham in the near future.
- Also based in Atlanta, I Drunk It is the “beer geek’s library.” The easy-to-use site allows users to find and discover new beers based on a unique suggestion algorithm. Users can also look up interesting information on specific beers and breweries, or find commonalities between their favorite beers.
- Austin-based BrewDrop is a mobile app that offers on-demand, real-time alcohol delivery. The startup launched in 2014 with $50K in seed funding from the Capital Factory accelerator, and was acquired by New York-based delivery.com this past April. Before acquisition, BrewDrop served 26 zip codes in Austin; now they’ll gain access to delivery.com’s 1.5 million users across cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, D.C., San Francisco, and LA.
- Founded in 2012 in Wilmington, NC, Next Glass uses chemistry and data to predict how much you will enjoy any bottle of beer or wine in real time. Users create a Taste Profile to rate drinks they’ve had before, and the app analyzes those ratings against each drink’s actual chemical makeup to recommend new beers and wines. Prior to their acquisition by Untappd earlier this year, Next Glass was the NC Technology Association Emerging Company of 2013 and an Elance Bold Idea Startup.
Are there other Southern beer innovations we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo credit: USA Today