Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Taplister Launches

Last night there was a party at East Burn to celebrate the official launch of Taplister, a website that intends to offer up-to-the-minute information on what beer is on tap at various bars and restaurants around Portland. My grainy non-iPhone picture is of the four founders of Taplister: Kevin, Ken, Kerry, and Scott. The ultimate goal is to have webcams pointed at the bar's own beer list or menu. The webcam operation is still ramping up -- right now only two "live" images are available, this Saraveza taplist, and this one from East Burn. I put "live" in quotation marks, because as I write this the images haven't changed since I first looked at them last night.

While the camera system is still in its larval stage, Taplister is using Twitter to provide pretty reliable crowdsourced info. You can use your Twitter account to add to the beer listings, or to ask where to find a certain beer. To contribute a listing, add "#ontappdx" to a tweet, like this: "Mmm... Full Sail Grandsun of Spot at Vincente's Pizza #ontappdx". To query Taplister, follow @ontappdx, and send it a tweet like this: "@ontappdx where Double Mtn IRA?" In a few minutes, the Taplister robot will reply to you with any establishments where the beer is on tap. It's a clever setup.

The Twitter interface works best when the bar itself tweets in the #ontappdx info, because with one update they can say that one tap is replacing another. Bailey's Taproom is a good example of that, check out their Twitter feed. You can also tweet in that a beer is "off". As this thing becomes more popular, there will undoubtedly need to be more safeguards added to the system. For instance, with no authentication I was able to click an "off" button on the website to purge the East Burn list of a beer called "Your Mom" -- which later investigation revealed to be a joke tweet from Hopworks' Ben Love (sorry Ben, I clicked before thinking).

If you're an iPhone person, there's a Taplister app called Beer Signal to help navigate the lists. The rest of us can content ourselves with the website and the Twitter interface. There are also a couple of blog sections to the website: one a compendium of Portland beer blogs (including It's Pub Night), and another with original material including slick video interviews with local beer personalities.

Taplister is pretty nifty already; it will be really cool when more pubs around town start to host their webcams. Hopefully there's enough money in it to keep it afloat -- personally I think Google ought to snap it up while the founders could be tempted by something less than nine figures.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for pointing out that the pubcam images weren't updating. I made some config changes on Sunday and messed up something in the pipeline that ships the images from the bars to the website. It should be fixed now.