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Untappd Beer Check-in App Looks To Expand Chicago Footprint

But what's the value to Chicago beer drinkers?

Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Earlier this year, Untappd, the popular smartphone app for beer drinkers, launched a platform for bar and restaurant owners. The notion is to give owners a resource to better track what their customers are drinking, publish up-to-date menus and inform customers of events. Since February, 500 have signed up globally. That includes 7 in Chicago, which routinely battles New York as Untappd's biggest market.

Untappd is essentially Foursquare for beer, with users logging what beers they're drinking and sharing their locations with other friends via social media. Untappd co-founder and CTO Greg Avola wants to cash-in on the app's data. The app stores what users are drinking and when they're drinking. For example, according to Untappd data, during last year's Chicago Craft Beer Week (May 14, 2015 to May 24, 2015), the most-popular beer in Chicago was Revolution's Anti-Hero IPA. The app also stores locations and a bar's peak business time.

"We also have demographic information like ages and gender, we also tell you the most-popular beers you're selling on the platform," Avola said.

The consumer value is beer drinkers are automatically notified (text messages, for example) about changes to a bar's menu. That means they don't have call and sift through outdated menus when they're looking for a particular hard-to-find beer.

Bars which host beer-themed events may also benefit. Doug Marks, owner over at Emporium Arcade Bar, signed up for the platform about two weeks ago for his Wicker Park location. Untappd has a Facebook widget that automatically pushes data to social media. Emporium hosts concerts and other events, and Marks said at times he felt beer events were buried on the page. There's also a high number of Untappd users in Wicker Park, and having access to those customers' tendencies was appealing: "It's just being able to get to our target customers in a much faster, efficient way," Marks said.

Untappd isn't the answer for everyone. The company approached Michael Quinlan over at Links Taproom where they already use the Digital Pour system. Quinlan already sees some overlap, as Links already uses video boards from Digital Pour which already integrate and display Untappd check-ins from customers. Video boards are something Untappd's Avola said the company is working on. Meanwhie, Quinlan said the consumer value of technologies like Untappd and Digital Pour is particularly useful for folks new to craft beer. It can help educate.

"It's also a tremendous benefit having the menu and keg levels displayed in such a manner so the customer knows the beer they ordered is actually going to reach their taste buds," he added.

Links Taproom

1559 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 360-7692 Visit Website

Emporium Arcade Bar

1366 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (773) 697-7922 Visit Website