Round Two of Brewing Reviewing

Ok, so as long as we’re talking about beer, I’ve got a few more thoughts.

First, someone please make a better home brewing app. In fact, Norther Brewer, you do it.

I’ve tried a few, and the best I can find is called iBrewMaster 2. One of the reasons I like it is because I buy all my kits (yes, I’m still a kit-using panzy) from Northern Brewer, and they preload 90% of the recipes. Smart move by Northern to do so – assuming they know about it.

I also like it because I just input my starting and ending Brix and it does the math for me. It’s a good place to take notes, and the push notifications that remind me to do something are nice as well.

But holy crap is it ugly.



It has an advantage at being wonderfully convenient for those of us who buy from Northern all the time.

Now how could it be more useful?  For one, maybe hie a designer who understands UX. That’d be a start. But more realistically, Northern has a huge opportunity here. Every time I brew, I use this app. I also use my iPad to have the PDFs provided by Northern for Yeast starters (even though I’ve done it a handful, I still prefer to have the instructions handy. It’d be nice to have more of those things readily available.

It’d also be a great place to revive the old BrewingTV content that is just sitting dormant and rarely updated.

Plus, for the more adventurous who want to do their own recipes, let them build it in the app, and magically create a shopping list for the things they need to buy. More magical would be for it to have the home made kit “ready for pickup” after I create the list and check out via the app.

And just how could I check out from the app you say? Well, link it to the account I have where I’ve stored my credit card info  – happy to type in my password and, you know, my CVV or something. But in reality, I’m happy to log in to the app with that same account.

Why would I do that?

Well because if I use the same account, I want Northern to expand their already awesome email campaigns and target me more appropriately. For example, I’m a Belgian guy. Sure I may be German and English, but Belgians are my beers. I am also kind of an email whore and am on my phone all the time. Northern sends out very good deals through their email campaigns, and they got me to buy something I didn’t need once. It was a Belgian ale kit. Now I’m sure it’s not the last time, but it was indeed the first time. Sending me a link to a limited edition Belgian kit is pretty much an easy way to get me to cough up money.

Naturally, Northern is already trying to gather all my sales info from my online and in store purchases anyway and I’m totally fine with that. But wouldn’t it also be nice to cross reference what I purchase against what I’m brewing? How many batches did I buy elsewhere? Did you notice I made the jump to all-grain? Did I buy that gear upgrade from you? Do you want to start sending me emails about all-grain kits or things to make me brew better?

These all may seem like itty bitty things. But Northern already has their hooks in me (love their staff, their stores, their products and honestly their brand).  Harvard Business Review just had an article last issue about selling to those who are super consumers. Not just heavy users, but crazy passionate about the category (i.e. home brewing). We’re not talking the Pareto principle (80/20 rule), but 10% representing between 30-70% of sales.  The trick is that they say it’s about CPG – I’m not sure I’d categorize home brewing gear as classic CPG, but hey, why not.

Anyway, all of this (and the last post) set up the framework for building an ecosystem for home brew.

But, the next step of an ecosystem is to make sure there are beings to interact with. Even plants can’t live in a vacuum (ok, maybe they can, I’m no biologist). That’s where Northern can really push things forward. Not for them, not for the brand, but in reality for the cause and love of home brewing. The economics follow good behavior. Build a community of brewers. Build what all home brewing associations want to do, but never have the time or talent to execute it well. A place to share, compare, and get advice on how to do things. I want to be a good brewer. Right now, I have no idea if I am because I have no feedback loop (wife’s pregnant again….), and even those who drink my beer can’t always tell me how it could be better.

And yes, it always can be better. Better is what we all and always want. That’s why I wrote these last two posts. I may not know any better than anyone else, but maybe someone will agree and make it happen. I’d like to see that.

And to buy beer on Sundays.

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