On my iPhone home screen, right alongside icons for usual suspects like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Yahoo Sports, and Spotify, is one for BeerMenus, a web service launched in 2008 by brothers Will and Eric Stephens that allows users to see what beers are available at bars, restaurants, and bottle shops in their area. At present, there are 10,159 businesses registered with the site, and 47,414 beers, spanning all 50 states and 20 countries. It’s pretty much the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and, I suspect, lots of other beer nerds.
I use it when I’m in a new area and looking for somewhere to eat—it’s a fool-proof way to make sure you don’t wind up at a place that only serves Bud Light and fucking Shock Top or whatever. I use it when a new, limited-run beer is released and I want to see if any of the stores near me have it in stock. I use it when… well, I use it when I have nothing to do. I’ve gotten to the point where I absentmindedly open it up and start browsing the selections of every establishment I’ve ever even heard of. I know that I’d be better off going to, I dunno, a news outlet to see if something of actual importance has happened in the world, but instead I can basically recite the current draft list of every bar within five miles of where I am at any given moment.
The service is about to get even better, too. “We’ve partnered with an awesome local start-up, Yhat,” says Communications Director Regan Stephens, “that will help people find great beer with personalized recommendations.” They’re also concentrating on expanding the business as much as possible. “The more bars, restaurants, and beer shops on BeerMenus,” she says, “the better the experience for craft beer fans.”
One of the other ways they’re working to improve the lives of beer drinkers is through a partnership with Burger Conquest and the Good Beer Seal. In celebration of (the awkwardly named) July Good Beer Month, they’ve created The NYC Good Beer Passport, a book of coupons, essentially, which are good for one free beer, or one free flight of beers, at participating locations—of which there are a whopping 47, including Mission Dolores, Glorietta Baldy, the Double Windsor, and lots of other top-tier beer bars across the city . Each passport will set you back a mere $35. Do the math. It’s a very, very good deal. And it’s for a good cause: proceeds from the sales will go to the Food Bank for New York City and the Heritage Radio Network. Supplies are limited, so don’t dilly-dally.