It goes like this: You sit down in a no-name dive bar in a city you’re visiting for the first time. You motion to the bartender and ask for an IPA. Twelve seconds later he plants a wet pint glass in front of you and turns to count his tips. You look the glass up and down. The liquid inside is dark and clear. A healthy layer of head floats on top. Your first sip is just a sip — cautious, unsure, a test run. The second is a gulp. The third is a revelation; this is the greatest beer you’ve ever tasted. This is the beer you were destined to find. You hail the bartender again, desperate to learn more. It’s a local brew, he says, crafted just three times a year in tiny batches not two miles from where you sit. You find won’t this anywhere else, he says. Your heart sinks. You live on the other side of the country. Resigned to defeat, you order another, then another, then one more because why the hell not. Decidedly drunk, you eventually turn to leave. From the door you eye your empty glass one last time. It is the saddest moment you have ever experienced.
Jonathon Lunardi knows your pain. More importantly, he knows how to do something about it.
A devoted beer connoisseur, Lunardi is one of the faces behind BreweryFans.com, a service designed to unite people everywhere with the beers they love. The idea is simple: Find the finest craft beers the United States has to offer, determine where in the country people want those beers, then provide the breweries with a convincing reason to sell their wares in those markets and distributors with a convincing reason to carry them. It’s an exercise in the most basic of free market principles. With beer.
Since launching the site in April, Lunardi and his team of beer aficionados have partnered with a handful of breweries across the country, creating Facebook fan pages for each. The fan pages serve two purposes: To spread the word about great craft brews and to measure how popular each of those brews are in a specific area of the country. If a beer is in particularly high demand in a certain region, it’s an opportunity for Lunardi to approach distributors in the area and suggest they try selling the beer. Success means more good beer in more places.
“It allows the breweries to really see where their pockets of fans are so they can decide whether to expand into those areas,” Lunardi said. “From the consumer side of things it allows them to find the beer they like.”
Finding the beer you like is just that easy. Log onto BreweryFans.com and you can see a list of all current partner breweries, as well as the beers they make and where to find them. Maybe you tried Heavy Seas Marzen by the bottle at a friend’s place and want to know where to find it on tap. Click the Heavy Seas page on BreweryFans.com, click the name of the beer, and boom: You’re presented with a complete rundown of all the bars that serve Heavy Seas brews.
It looks like craft beer has officially entered the digital age.