Friday, October 24, 2008

The Beer Mapping Project

From time to time I cobble up a Google map to illustrate a post here, such as the map of Portland Growler Prices. It's easy to add your own locations with a little bit of text, or to add lines showing some route or the other.

But my puny maps are child's play compared to a beautiful website put together by a genius known as "beerinator": The Beer Mapping Project. Kept up-to-date by user submissions, photos, and reviews, it's a very powerful tool. Here's a map from the BMP that shows the beer-related sites within a 3-mile radius of the Lucky Lab:

[Hmm... this map doesn't show up in Google Reader. Click over to the blog if you can't see it.] You have to zoom out to see the full radius, but you get the idea. Click on one of the markers, and it will give you a balloon of information about the place, including some internet linkage.

The BMP site has over 40 U.S. and Canada city maps, plus regional maps of Europe, North America, and Australia. In addition to brewpubs and breweries, it lists beer bars, beer stores, and homebrew shops. The Portland map is in pretty good shape, but there are a few gaps that some of us motivated beer geeks could help fill in -- I feel a little guilty because the only location I've submitted is Vincente's Pizza, and that was months ago.

There are other goodies available, such as an interface with Twitter that will let you map out your beer wanderings. If you're really gung-ho, beerinator generously offers an API that lets you build your own application on top of the database. Or if you're only partially gung-ho, there's a push-button HTML generator that lets you embed BMP information on your blog or website -- either maps like the one above, or vital-statistics boxes like this:

So far I haven't seen a feature on BMP that would let me annotate one of their maps with my own information the same way I can with Google Maps. That's OK, it's still a great resource, especially when you're on the road.

On a related note: if you're not just a beer geek, but also a coffee geek, you should check out my buddy Eric's site: espresso map. It doesn't have the beermapping bells and whistles, but it might just save your life one day.

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