photo by Sherwood411 of

When I’m in a new state/area looking to scout the local beer scene, I typically go to Google maps and search for ‘brewery,’  that gives me results in the area I’m interested in and then I jump on review websites and see if visiting that brewery is worth my time. If it is, I head back to the website jot down the tour/tasting room hours and then find beers I specifically want to try and then figure out which ones are currently on tap in their tap room.  I write that down then I find another one in the area and continue the process, I have been known to research for hours to find the right brewery and beers to taste. Could I just go and avoid the hassle of research? Sure but I’m not going waste my time on beer that I’m not going to like, nor waste a perfectly good evening or day and not get the satisfaction of good quality beer. There has to be a better way right? Well maybe, today I’m looking at the site Brew Trail and hoping that it could alleviate some of the head aches of planning a good brewery tour day.

The Brew Trail website has a very good aesthetic, very clean, easy to navigate and seems fairly simple. They tout that three steps will have your perfect brewery tour day down, so let’s take it for a ride. I pick a random state (Pennsylvania) and I’m presented with a list and a map of breweries there. Here’s where things get frustrating, I click on a brewery to find some information on it and there really isn’t anything there just location info, hours and Facebook and Twitter feeds. I don’t see a button to add this particular brewery to my trail nor do I see any more information which would help me to make a better decision. Admittedly I picked Weyerbacher and I already know that’s a place I would want to visit but now I don’t see a button to add that from the page. I use the back button to go back to the list and I add it manually. I look through another brewery same thing bare bones info I hit back button and Weyerbacher is now gone from my route. Hmmm ok I add it back and the one I was just on. I click another brewery but this time from the map above and there is an add link but that doesn’t give me much information about the brewery. I finally concede that I’m not going to get insightful information from this page so I randomly pick breweries. Once I pick three, I go to print out a report and all I get was a Google maps directions sheet. I expected a report of breweries and what times to visit according to their hours, a suggestion of an order to visit them based off of their hours, no just directions.

Ok so I’m not going to bore you with more specifics and get right down to it. The website is a good idea but the execution needs a lot of work. There are a lot of flaws with the site that I only hope will get flushed out over the existence of it. Right now, if you want a site to give you breweries in a specific area, go ahead and pay them a visit. To actually research and plan the tour out, you’re still on your own but at least you have an easy site that shows you breweries in a specific area.

What needs to happen to make this a useful site? Here’s a list:

  • Better brewery information (BA/RB info, beer lists, etc.)
  • Better way to add breweries to your list
  • Better navigation (back buttons, next buttons, etc.)
  • Better report of the your trail not just a Google map of directions.
  • Easy way to navigate back to my saved trails
  • More functionality (a site that’s basically a dressed up Google map just doesn’t add value)

Overall the site is a great idea in its infancy and I’ll continue to come back to the site to see if it evolves into something I can actually use. Until then, I’ll continue to do my slightly OCD brewery research on my own.