Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery is taking an interesting step toward dismantling the long, winding lines that have come to typify the scene of craft beer releases … by hopefully doing away with them entirely. Instead, all of those transactions will simply be happening via your mobile device. Sept. 30 will be the date of the first Sixpoint release sold entirely via a native mobile app.
Two beers in the brewery’s small-batch series will be released on that date: Lil’ Raspy Raspberry Berliner Weisse and Toppen-ish IPA, an unfiltered IPA from Sixpoint’s Farm to Pint series, both in Sixpoint’s proprietary 12-ounce sleek can format. The actual sales will happen in the week leading up to that date. Fans can sign up for the closed beta version of the app at sixpoint.com/beta, which will go live on Sept. 22. The sale itself will begin on Monday, Sept. 25 at 12 p.m. EST, eliminating the need for walk-up sales at the brewery, although “crowlers for on-site purchase and samples of other beer innovations will be available.” To quote the humorously exaggerated press release:
“We can now look back and clearly see there were certain moments that altered the course of brewing forever — the discovery of yeast, the invention of pasteurization, the development of the automobile, etc. Flash forward to 2017, and Sixpoint has devised a way to directly link the brewery to its customers from the palm of their hand,” said Shane C. Welch, Founder and Chief Visionary at Sixpoint. “For generations, breweries and their supply chain were shrouded in mystery—the process and the entire ecosystem was kept out of the public eye, and the actual product was just something that appeared on the shelf or on tap alongside a marketing message. We’ve changed all of that with our mobile app, as we have directly linked our customers with our great suppliers, the formulation process, and the product itself. We’re the conduit.”
Speaking to Good Beer Hunting, Welch suggests that this type of system is a natural evolution to the problem of crowded release days and beer fans queuing up hours in advance for a chance at buying hyped beer releases, only to be turned away if the beer runs out. He compares it to waiting three hours to buy a pair of jeans in a retail store, saying that this would bankrupt that sort of business, but that people “don’t even bat an eye” at the same behavior within the beer world.
“If you give someone an opportunity to recover three hours of their Saturday afternoon, to repurpose and reallocate toward some other productive purpose, they would gladly do that,” Welch said. “Once you give people an experience, and you show them they can have all of the benefits of having super-fresh beer right from the source without having all the inconvenience and inefficient nature of the way that retail is currently configured, once you give them that value proposition, they’re not going to want to go back.”
Still, we can’t help but wonder about some of the nuts and bolts here. Is it to be assumed that every limited release will always sell out in advance on the app? If there’s any cans still available at the time of sale, will they then be sold on site? How far in advance do sales on the app need to be completed, in order to then pick them up promptly? If there are still somehow cans available an hour before the doors open, and you purchase them on the app, will your cans be ready and waiting?
Moreover, if successful and widely emulated by the rest of the industry, does that mean craft beer fans will really be expected to download an app from every single brewery in their footprint in order to buy small-batch or limited releases? If your phone is anything like mine, hard drive space for apps is already at a premium. I’m having a hard time imagining adding another dozen, or two dozen apps from local breweries to juggle my beer purchases—especially in a scene like NYC, with new up-and-comers constantly on their way up.
Sixpoint tangentially addressed a few of these types of questions via Reddit, where we must say the brand keeps up an excellent presence and is extremely receptive to fan commentary. In response to one fan’s question asking about the advantages of implementing such a system via an app rather than say, the brewery’s website, Sixpoint had the following to say:
There are a myriad of advantages to doing it through a native app vs. doing it through a third-party website. A few simple ones are:
1. The ease of ordering while on-the-go. You don’t have to be sitting down in front of your computer or log into a clunky mobile website to order the beer when it goes on sale. User interface will be streamlined and intuitive.
2. Push notifications. Once a new beer is released, you can sign up for an alert as to when the beer goes on sale. You can be instantly notified, if you wish – and avoid missing out. Which leads to…
3. One-click ordering. Once you have your user profile saved in the app, you can reserve your beer with a click of a button.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and there will be plenty more “easter eggs” along the way to make this user experience the best it possibly can be. Furthermore, there are a ton more integrated solutions that will all make more sense over time, as this will fit into a wider ecosystem of product development we will be rolling out over the next couple of years. But having this done through our own native, proprietary app is an essential part of this, as opposed through a third-party website.
So really, it sounds as if this app from Sixpoint is just the start of a series of developments toward improving their user experience, beginning with the elimination of those onerous lines. We look forward to seeing what the brewery has in store, and it will be interesting to see if this kind of move makes waves at other breweries that are struggling with managing their own popularity when it comes to beer releases.