Technology and Craft Beer

By Glenn DeLuca


In this crazy world of electronic advancement, where your devices get an updated
version every six months or so, I’m thinking this probably hasn’t had much effect on
our burgeoning craft beer industry.  I mean the process of brewing beer is pretty
simple and you can buy some basic equipment and do it yourself; aka home
brewing, but I guess some of the analysis and monitoring equipment and
programming has probably gotten better. I have read about breweries with “state of
the art” equipment, but is it really that much better than 20 years ago? Bottle lines
have probably improved although there’s still the “short” issue. There must be other
areas where technology has found something that can be improved and luckily for
me I saw a couple that jumped out at me.

I travel the Rte. 95 corridor into CT and right off the highway in Stratford is a 2+ year
old brewery called Two Roads.  I’ve heard some good things about them so added
some extra time into a trip to stop.  I was not disappointed; I had five very good
samples. They have a huge tasting room with an approximate 20’ oval tasting bar.
Across from the taps are two clear cylinders which I’m sitting near, but pay no notice
to until a customer walks in with a growler. The tasting room staff opens the cylinder,
puts the growler in, closes it, pushes a few buttons and presto the growler fllls.  
Whoa, what just happened here, where’s your rubber hose??

Hey I’m from Joisey, the most sophisticated we get is using a rubber hose to fill from
the bottom. I ask the staff person a few questions, but she really doesn’t know much
about it, except how to use, which I guess is most important.  

When I get home I do what everybody does these days; I jump on the internet and
search “The Growler Station”. Turns out these brothers own a brewpub in CT and
were not happy with their growler system. They do some research and find a
Russian growler system that limits the beer’s oxygen exposure, similar to a bottling
line, so it stays fresh longer. (If that’s what the Ruskies do for beer what are they
doing for Vodka??) They install it in their brewpub in 2010 and are impressed. It’s
already being used in Europe, so why not setup distribution here’s in the US? The
first “Growler Station” opened in NYC January 2012 and a bunch more have come
online since. They also have GS Express locations which are food and
liquor/beverage stores who want to sell draft beer.

On my recent trip home I stopped again and got a growler of their Road 2 Ruin,
Double IPA, so I could share with boys back home; all were duly impressed.
Coincidently I get my NJCB Daily Beermail that day and see a Liquor Factory event
that mentions the Growler Station, which hours before I saw in operation. Sure
enough I go to their website which has a picture of the store with 8 taps and 2
Growler Stations. So maybe I just don’t get out enough that I hadn’t seen any of
these before but looks like they’re expanding. But hey this is Joisey, so maybe me a
few of da boys will visit some of deis fine establishments and extol on the virtues of
da rubber hose so dey gets the message.

Yes I did say two; I’m down in Philly with a friend and we head to a place he likes, the
Tria Taproom. We sit down, get menus and I ask the waitress what’s on tap. Usually
they have it memorized or read it quickly off a list and sometimes you need to ask a
few questions to get the full picture, but whoa what is this??  She hands me a tablet
which has the beer menu.
And I can get more info by clicking on each for a screen for each draft, with a write-
up, origin, ABV, the price, etc. AND…AND it also tells me how much is left in the keg!
Well this is way better than FreeCell, she may not get this tablet back for a long
time; even though I found one of my all-time favorites, Stone Collective Distortion, so
most of it was really playtime!

I’ve never seen this before and haven’t seen it since, but other places must have it
also (did I already say I don’t get out enough…). This is great for dining and bars
that aren’t packed to the gills and for the craft beer aficionado it’s really great. I
definitely could see where this could be some work for management keeping it
updated, but each draft should be a standardized form, which could be preloaded
and when you swap kegs you change the menu. So I’m back on the Internet and
sure enough there are some combo dinner/drink menu tablets and bingo there’s a
system that will measure the flow of the beer and be able to tell you how much is left.

Now for the larger crazier bars, you could always take one or two of your flat
screens and rotate the draft pages on those for patrons to view; a lot easier on the
bartenders trying to shout over the crowd and you trying to hear and sure enough
as I continue searching there’s a testimonial from a brewery out in CO and they’ve
got their menu on large screens…great minds think alike. Interesting also that the
companies are promoting these tablets as a better experience for the customer,
where they can get more info than before.

When we’re out taste is always the primary focus, but the ambiance, what glasses
they’re using, the different tap handles, the service and the food all come into play.
It’s also good to be open and aware as you may spot something you haven’t seen
before and it’s a hell of a lot more fun learning new things this way than getting hit
by an eraser by my 8th grade math

Glenn DeLuca writes about beer and culture of drinking. He may
be reached by writing

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Glenn DeLuca
Outtakes from a life of beer. presents
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by Glenn DeLuca
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