Pour Authority measures beer volume for bar-goers

When it comes to serving beer in a glass, the pour is everything — that’s why Pour Authority, a new app from Madison-based developer Craig Robertson, was created to easily measure the volume of a glass of beer.

A standard American 16-ounce pint glass, a 14.75-ounce porter glass and a 16-ounce stadium cup all have something in common: they each only hold about 12 ounces of liquid when filled most of the way up.

Robertson used a homemade video to demonstrate this incongruity at a recent meeting in Madison of 1 Million Cups, a national entrepreneurship group. By showing each container being filled with the same amount of beer — 12 ounces — he revealed that, despite what people may think, they are not getting what they pay for at many bars and sporting events.

“I know when I realized this that it was, for me, kind of a ‘Wow’ moment,” he said.

In European countries like Germany and the UK, glasses have markings along the top, to give pourers an indication of when to stop. While Robertson says he doesn’t know why the same custom doesn’t exist in the United States, he does claim his free app solves the issue.

App users can aim at their beer with their phone’s camera, align a mark on the screen with the top of the glass, and drag down on the screen to measure the amount of empty space. The app’s internal algorithm calculates the volume that customers might be missing out on.

“Ok, so we have 12 ounces of actual beer, we divide that by the 16 ounces of what I’ll call ‘advertised’ amount of beer, and we come up with 75 percent of the advertised beer amount is what we got,” he said. “Put another way, 25 percent of our advertised beer amount is not there — it’s missing.”

This is the problem Robertson aims to solve with Pour Authority, and though it became available online less than two weeks ago, he has high hopes for what he envisions as a social app.

“We think it’s a really simple and fun way to measure and catalogue your beer pours, and you can also share those with your friends,” he said.

Robertson’s app development company, Make Greater, has ventured into the marketplace before with Chimed, an app that lets users set alarms and timers with greater customization than with the built-in clocks that come with most smartphones.

According to the company blog, Make Greater makes money through in-app purchases — what’s known as the “freemium” model.

While Robertson says the cost of “keeping the lights on” is next to nothing, he is currently looking into enacting monetization strategies such as in-app advertising once he can build up a large enough user base for Pour Authority.

Though he acknowledges bartenders might not appreciate customers constantly checking their pours, he says a market exists for people who think they’re not getting their money’s worth.

For now, he is trying to connect with people online who are interested in the pouring issue. If he can get the ball rolling with them, he is hoping for an organic growth process as he continues developing the app.

“The app is also designed to be viral, so there’s social integrations built in,” Robertson said. “When you take a picture, all these sorts of things, you can share them out on your social networks. Very soon we’ll have a feature coming in where you can find your friends, things of that nature.”

–By Alex Moe