When it comes to enjoying beer in Minnesota, craft enthusiasts have nearly unlimited options.
From types of beer to places to go to coupons to use, there are countless ways to get a pint.
But as growth in the beer scene begins to slowly level, and focus becomes more on quality, many beer fans have found their favorite taproom and often don’t stray.
On the reverse side, those just coming into the movement may feel overwhelmed at the choices, or use their coupons quickly.
So, how can consumers balance their desire to explore, or stay put, with their desire for a free beer?
Enter Craftapped: a new rewards program founded in Minneapolis, whose founders said it’s for, “if you like beer and you like being around people, or even if you hate people but like craft beer.”
After moving to Minnesota from Los Angeles, co-founder John Schardt began to take note of the state’s craft beer community.
Having been entrenched in southern California’s hospitality scene, Schardt knew craft beverages and the business behind them.
As he became more familiar with the Twin Cities, he noticed that while there were several programs that encouraged craft beer consumption few offered continual incentives to consumers or to brewers.
“There weren’t really any type of promotional items that were specifically geared toward breweries and craft beer,” Schardt said. “I saw the Groupons but I wasn’t really pleased with what that did to the margins of the businesses.”
With a wide group of seasoned consumers and a continually growing number of breweries, Schardt knew he’d need a product that not only encouraged exploration of new locations but rewarded dedication to neighborhood watering holes.
Thus, Craftapped was born.
Joined by Bob Pickering, Keith Reierson and Brian Tuner, Schardt began work on creating a the program which offered users 10 free beers every month.
How it works is users sign up online $9.99 a month. They have the choice to pay month-to-month, or choose six or 12 month memberships. Then, they have 10 beers to enjoy per month.
Only two free beers can be consumed in one evening, and only one beer is available at each business.
However, unlike other programs, if you drink all your beers in one week, the program restarts the following month.
There are also member happy hours and newsletters that include special events, or franchises like “Cooking with BT” that give recipes for cooking with beer.
Members are encouraged to try new beers at new breweries (or new beers at their favorite breweries) but are allowed to use their coupon on whatever they want to drink.
“That’s something that is wonderful about the program,” Schardt said. “You really have a free choice in what you want to drink.”
Currently, there are 71 businesses that are partnered with Craftapped. While most are taprooms, there are also a number of hospitality partners as well.
“It’s sort of a key thing for us that it’s not just taprooms, but also a broader scope of venues that support the beer movement,” co-owner Brian Turner said. “One of the main ideas behind Craftapped is exploring the vibe and the culture of each and every one of these spaces.”
Now, Schardt, Turner and team are focusing on growing the business – both with partners and members.
While nationwide expansion is an ultimate dream, for now they are focusing on expanding to some of Minnesota’s other craft beer hubs such as Duluth.
But more than being introduced to new beer, the Craftapped team hopes it introduces their members to new people.
“We’re trying to encourage people to experience the taproom world and not just do it alone. We want people to go out and be together. Be together. Enjoy some beer and enjoy people’s company,” Turner said. “That’s one of my favorite things to see at a taproom: people just hanging out just to be together.”
To learn more about Craftapped, or to sign up for a membership, visit them online.