Scrolling idly through Facebook posts, I ran across one that announced the winding down of the Taplister website/app. Barring a financial angel swooping in and saving it. For those who did not use it, Taplister was a crowdsourced source for what was on tap at bars and breweries. You could log in and find out what was pouring before you arrived at your barstool.
I was watching with a careful eye how Taplister and another website, BeerMenus looked and how often it updated and if and how much they would charge for access. The main reason for my interest is that I do a non-crowdsourced and more manual version of what Taplister was offering in the form of the Food GPS L.A. Beer Blast. And I alternated between thinking that crowdsourced would overrun what I was doing and then believing that it was better the old-fashioned (my) way.
But now I have come to the realization that although the look of the website and app is important, and the ease of use is important, plus accurate up-to-date tap lists is of paramount importance, they all fall in line behind how the creator/owner is making it a viable business.
Do you charge the customers for using? If so, then many in the interweb community will simply not use it. Because free is everywhere with a little poking around. Do you charge the bars or breweries? If so, then many publicans and brewers may opt out, leaving gaps that makes the service seem incomplete and leading to comments of “Why isn’t Bar A on the list?, they’re the best”.
You can use a combo of both or scramble for sponsors to cover costs. But in the end evaluation, is there a need for a constantly updating gargantuan list of tap lists? Enough to warrant charging for it? I don’t think so. Which leads to the question, What can and should be charged for if “everything” isn’t it?
Let me answer that by tackling the information itself. I am turning toward the viewpoint that a huge amount of data is less helpful. With curated lists being better in tune with what will be needed. There is a reason why listicles are popular. You take a vast swath of data and condense it into a list. A list is easy. Too easy most times without any goal other than as clickbait. That inherent flaw of throwing a list together without education, or worse, having the interwebs choose through voting has made actual curators more needed than ever before. And a curator can charge for expertise.
What is more valuable than microscopic coverage of a city or region and every beer on tap is a vetted list of which craft beer establishments you should spend your money at and what beer they are serving, compiled by someone or a group that has trust and knowledge. This opinion isn’t to toot the horn of the L.A. Beer Blast but it is an example of having people with craft beer experience in Los Angeles providing a snapshot of where craft beer fans really should go for their next pint. I would pay to hear and taste what people like Ryan Sweeney or Brian Lenzo or Steve Skorupa think I should have a glass of.
I see a future where we look to those with great taste to guide us to great beers and great breweries and not to a massive list of beers that is so large that it is debilitating.