Suds and cellphones: Craft beer’s growing dependence on mobile

Credit: Silver-Peak

Mobile is king. Whether you’re on the train, at your work or at the park, there’s a good chance most of the people you see will be more infatuated with their phones than their surroundings. And much like the new Pokemon craze that’s sweeping the nation, craft beer drinkers are constantly on their phones searching for the newest, the rarest, and the most sought after beers on the market. The trend makes sense when you look at the mobile-focused millennial generation that’s crowding the market, so it’s no surprise that both craft brewers and craft beer consumers are increasingly turning to their phones to find beer enlightenment.

That said, here are my thoughts on why the craft beer market is continually moving towards mobile dependence, and why it’s a good thing for craft brewers.

Point One: Your phone is your new drinking buddy


A recent Adweek article revealed that almost 80% of craft beer drinkers have used their phones when deciding which six-pack to pick off the shelves. Not only does this show a desire to learn and try new beers, but it’s also a telling sign that the new generation of beer drinkers are relying on outside sources to make decisions. Out with the TV ads for mass market beers and in with the new local micro brewers and seasonal selections, which is a great thing for smaller breweries who might not have the capital to plaster their brands on billboards and bus stops. Also telling is that 72% of mobile users are more likely to try a new beer if they can read up on it beforehand, meaning that people are trusting the recommendations and reviews of other beer drinkers and beer sites (like *wink wink* Sommbeer). Some dissenters might say that this leads people to blindly follow in the footsteps of others, but I see it as a promising sign that craft beer has extended its community onto a new, highly-social platform. People still talk to their friends and bar mates about what new beers to drink, but now they’re checking their phones too, which means more options and more chances for smaller brewers to join the party.

Point Two – Breweries are getting into the mobile game

Credit: Schlafly

Beer marketing has changed. Now that everyday Americans have instant access to any news story, celebrity headline or mobile game they desire, it only makes sense that breweries would get in the action. This was the case with Missouri based brewery Schlafly who enacted beacon technology to make sure their beer choices were top of mind for any beer drinker in the local St. Louis area. In May, Schlafly inputted 250 local bars with Tapfly beacon technology, which sent push notifications highlighting their brews to the phones of patrons as soon as they walked into one of the designated drinking spots. Not only did this tactic differentiate Schlafly from the myriad of other beers on tap, but is also kept their beer top of mind when these beer drinkers were making their ultimate purchasing decision. And although the jury on push notifications is still out, mostly because 52% of those surveyed view the pop ups as distracting, it ultimately highlights the new ways that craft beer is entering the lives of millions of Americans. Access to information is constant and infinite, and access to new beer from new brewers has never been higher. Eventually combining the two makes sense.

Point three – Craft beer is as much about the find as it is the drink

To many craft beer drinkers, myself included, trying a new beer these days is only part of the fun. Drinking craft beer has become increasingly shareable with the rise of visual-focused social mediums like Twitter and Instagram. Now, trying the newest IPA at your local craft beer spot is usually followed by a tweet, a badge on Untappd or a blog post post-bar. Beer has extended past being something people consume and has become something that is shared – and a large portion of that trend I believe derides from people’s infatuation with their phones. A recent graph on craft beer posts on Instagram proves that, as posts focused on beer peaked during primetime weekend hours and dwindled on Mondays – no surprise. On average Instagram sees 12,000 beer shots during peak days, which shows that sharing your craft

Credit: @beercrunchers

beer finds on social has become a ritual for people.  In my mind, people post the most about beer Friday through Sunday not just because they know more people might have time to waste on social media during that time, but also because they’re aware that others might be having similar experiences to their own – they’re enjoying the beer they are drinking and they’re enjoying sharing it with their friends and followers. I’ll be the first to admit, this all might seem a little vain, and it probably is a little bit, but it also gives the craft beer community another opportunity to interact with each other and to continue to explore the growing craft beer landscape.


So – now you know my thoughts on smart phones and why I believe they’re vital to the craft beer industry. Not only do they provide immediate access to whichever beer inquiry you might have, but they also give both drinker and brewer a new way to interact with each other. The next time you get the familiar buzz in your pocket, it might not be a text.

As always, these are my thoughts and I welcome any and all feedback or criticism you might have. Cheers!

Taylor Laabs

Taylor Laabs

23, Chicagoan, lover of (most) beers due to my Wisconsin-based education and craving of brewpubs. Cheers!
Taylor Laabs

3 thoughts on “Suds and cellphones: Craft beer’s growing dependence on mobile”

  1. Taylor, this was a great article and its got me thinking.

    Your position is aligned with mine. Mobile technology and craft beer are married. We could drink craft beer alone in our garages but most of us prefer to drink at breweries, at social gatherings etc… When we drink and use mobile (social media) we are able to greatly expand our drinking circles. Most of the time this enriches the entire experience. Instead of a few dozen fellow enthusiasts around me I can expand my circle to thousands – what a blast.

    1. Hi David,
      Totally agree that it enhances the drinking experience! Glad you liked the read.

      – Taylor


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