Cocktails & Spirits

BeerText: Beer Knowledge Delivered to Your iPhone (Or Even Your Razr)

Here's something every beer lover can appreciate: BeerText, a service that tells you anything you could ever want to know about the beer you're drinking.

It's not an app in the traditional sense -- you don't have to go online, and there's no need to download anything. That means you can even use it on throwback, non-"smart phones," because it works via text messaging, not an internet browser.

BeerText delivers info about a beer directly to your phone. Text anytime, anywhere, because -- unlike your ex -- BeerText will be happy to get your drunk text messages all night, and always responds with the right answer.

The BeerText Story
When I first caught word of BeerText I figured it might come in handy while I was roaming the aisles at Total Wine, or thinking about ordering an unfamiliar beer at the bar.

Luckily, BeerText's creators, Syracuse University students Doug Crescenzi and Ross Lazerowitz, had the same problem. They loved trying new beer, and wanted to design a service that would help them get information about any brew on the go.

Crescenzi, Lazerowitz and fellow student Carter Yagemann designed, developed and programmed BeerText in just 10 hours during a recent Syracuse University "hackathon" -- where computer science brainiacs work in teams to produce new applications that ultimately make our lives better. Although they didn't win the competition, they still submitted their idea to the beer section of Reddit for feedback. Just a few days later BeerText was receiving thousands of queries.

How It Works
So, how does BeerText work? It's all thanks to Twilio, a cloud communication company that allows software developers to make and receive phone calls and/or send and receive text messages. BeerText accesses information compiled by BreweryDB, an online "library" of beer, breweries and beer events used by apps like Beer Friend (an app that helps you estimate your BAC and the number of calories you've consumed from drinking beer) and Beer RAM (a web-based app that lists breweries and beers). Then, Twilio works to take that information and send it directly to your phone: just like that, everything you wanted to know about Harpoon's Leviathan Imperial IPA, in less than 10 seconds.

How To Use BeerText
Simply text the name of the beer you have in mind to 315-679-4711, and within a minute you'll receive a detailed reply that includes information on the brewery, flavor profile, ABV -- even the type of malts and hops used.

What's the catch? None, really. Depending on your SMS plan with your mobile service provider, the service is free. Plus -- unlike many apps -- there's no need to register, sign up with your email account, or sign a user agreement. No hassle. Just beer stats.

Here, a sample shot after asking BeerText about a familiar brew, Sierra Nevada Torpedo:

BeerText Pros
You'll look like a beer god to all of your friends. You will finally be able to have a conversation with that beer snob at the bar. You'll never be disappointed that what you thought was a red imperial pale ale is really just a basic red ale. Plus, you can always use it to have an imaginary text conversation the next time your friends show up late to the club.

BeerText Cons
If you don't spell the beer's name properly, or use the wrong label, BeerText won't be able to find your beer. Example: I texted Leviathan Double IPA instead of Imperial IPA, and it was at a loss to help me.

Also, don't be surprised to get more than a few texts (sorta like that annoying friend that would rather write you a novel instead of just calling) highlighting the beer in question. Some, like good ole' Corona, send relatively short blurbs. Others, like the one above, sent me a total of 11 messages.

The database isn't 100%, either. Rare, specialty, and small-batch breweries aren't typically listed on BreweryDB, so picks like the Category 3 IPA from Boynton Beach's Due South Brewery weren't available yet. Still, BeerText knows more than I do, and it's a hell of a lot faster than trying to surf the Internet on my phone after a few brews.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna