Craig Robertson wants to make the world a more just place, one beer at a time.
The wrong that he wants to right? The imperfect beer pour.
Consumers may not realize it, he said, but they’re not getting as much beer per glass as they think. Just try pouring out a blonde ale or lager at home. While your pint glass may seem pretty full, it could very well only contain about 12 ounces or so — about 75% of the glass’s volume.
“There’s a 'Wow!' moment," Robertson said. "People realize that the beer that you frequently got, it’s not as much as you expected."
Robertson, who runs an iPhone development consulting firm called Make Greater LLC, made an app to fix the issue of “beer shorting”: Pour Authority. By measuring out how much beer you get, he said, the smartphone tool can ensure some quality control for consumers who want the beer pour they deserve.
Pour Authority does not use image recognition technology or complex algorithms, said Robertson. Instead, it uses good old-fashioned geometry mixed with user-submitted information.
After selecting a glass type — whether it's a snifter or a stein or a standard pint — users line up their phone next to their beer. Then, comparing an image on their phone to the actual glass in front of them, they position a slider to align with the beer's surface. The tool then calculates how full the glass is.
Is it 90 percent full or more? That’s a “perfect pour.” Is it over 80 percent full? That’s “OK.” Anything below that is “low tide.”
Pour Authority also features a map showing bar-to-bar data from all users. The app is in beta right now, but if a significant number of people start using it, the map could eventually show you how often HopCat bartenders nail that perfect pour, versus staff at the Paradise.
“This app is crowd-sourced quality control,” said Robertson.
The notion of beer pour quality control isn’t unheard of: In the United Kingdom, prosecutors can target pubs for pouring a less-than-satisfactory glass under the Weights and Measures Act.
Still, while Robertson hopes it helps consumers, he also acknowledged that the app could be used for evil. Customers could weaponize it to harangue bartenders when they think their Spotted Cow is a half-ounce too small.
Robertson hopes this doesn’t come to pass. He said that he knows bartenders aren’t out to cheat customers of beer — many of them care deeply about doing right by beer and the customer, he said. SOme may simply be unaware of the beer-shorting phenomenon, or are too busy to stress about it.
Robertson said the good that the app could do will likely outstrip the negatives.
“I don’t think it will be so catastrophic as people think,” he said.
There are other positive applications: He said that others have also suggested that the app could be used as a tool for training bartenders to nail the perfect pour.
Robertson is still getting feedback on the app, and is tweaking adjustments to its user interface. For those interested in trying out the beta version, it’s available on the app store as a free download.