We’re big fans of HopPlotter.com here at Nethergate. In case you haven’t seen it yet, HopPlotter is a website and iPhone app that uses GPS technology to help you find and visit breweries. For the independent craft brew scene, this kind of app is a great idea, because people love to see where their favourite beers are coming from. This week, we managed to catch-up with the beer loving team behind Hop Plotter to talk beer, internet and going global…
Hop Plotter… first the USA, now the world!
At the heart of the team are Alex Cartmell and Ann Layman. Alex builds all the technology, databases and clever kit and Ann heads up HopPlotter’s marketing and product management side. Alex’s sister Lauren Cartmell, is a successful app designer working in their home town of Seattle, completing their small, high tech team. So how did they get started? Alex tells us the story…
“Ann and I came up with the idea. She had studied mapping and geography, I was a programmer for a Expedia the travel company, and we grew up in city full of microbreweries that sculpted us into beer lovers. It was kind of a no-brainer to build an online brewery map…”
In fact, when they began building Hop Plotter about a year ago, it was really a tool to help Alex and Ann find breweries to visit.
“We realised pretty early on we liked craft beer. But we didn’t realise how many breweries were open to the public with seasonal brews, public tasting rooms and great visitor experiences. It’s fascinating… we wanted to discover more places to visit but there wasn’t any easy way to do it. So we built one for ourselves, and that became HopPlotter.”
Since they launched their first official app in December, Hop Plotter has mapped thousands of breweries in the US. The craft beer and microbrewery scene really began in the US, and it’s a more mature market with huge variety and a very well developed commercial tourist scene for beers. However, mapping Europe is harder because the brewing scene is different in every country. We know how important a good visitor centre and tourism is for a brewery. At Nethergate, we’re planning a new visitor centre as part of the Brewery 2.0 project, because a it’s a key part of future brewery growth as our good friends at Hogsback and Adnams have found with their own visitor centres.
So how is Alex’s team going to tackle Europe?
“We’ve recently moved to Madrid to really get to grips with the European scene. In the USA, every brewery has a bar or restaurant, gives tours and so on, but in Europe everywhere is different and they’re not so geared-up for tourists at breweries. We’re hoping to help change that for beer lovers everywhere!”
So what’s next?
HopPlotter’s plans don’t stop at mapping every brewery in the world, and drinking every beer in the world as they do it… they see their app as the start of an internet of beer. Like Google for real ale lovers.
“Eventually HopPlotter will be the main craft beer resource online. It will help you do everything from brewery visits to beer festivals, finding new beers, booking beer holidays, buying beer and learning how to make it. The works. We want to bring the global beer community together in one unique place, made by beer lovers, for beer lovers everywhere.”
When you see the energy and enthusiasm of the HopPlotters (and how clever the idea is), you realise that craft brewing really is a unique business. On the one hand, it’s rediscovering ancient recipes and honing traditional skills, on the other, it’s very much a community of a high tech innovators. It’s a great business to be in and from everyone here at Nethergate, we wish the savvy tech team at HopPlotter the best of luck.
When we added ourselves to HopPlotter we were the only English entry on their global beer map. Since then, there’s a few more… but sign-up and get your local brew on there now! Do it for ale lovers everywhere!