On The Up

All Beer Finder: The digital platform helping you find a beer for any occasion

Hunter Ruthven | 10 December 2015 | 8 years ago

Master brewer,  Alex Barlow of Sheffield-based All Beer
Master brewer, Alex Barlow, of Sheffield-based All Beer
If you’ve been caught up in the craft beer surge then our latest profile piece will be definitely of interest to you, as it involves a growing brand which is helping provide advice and guidance in the world of beer.

Fresh from closing a very successful Kickstarter campaign, the founder of the All Beer Finder website and app sat down with Business Advice to discuss how he’s managed to get countless beer brands to back the new development and where he’d like to take the platforms in the future. But enough from us, it’s now over to the beer-preneur.

(1)whoare you and what’s your business?

I’m Alexbarlow, founder of the All Beer Finder website and app and of Sentinel Brewery.Im a qualified master brewer andhave what many people would consider to be adream job, working as a brewing consultant and presenter, sommelier andbeerjudge. Im also the author of the “All Beer Guide“, which is the winner of four international awards including World’sbest Beer Book.

(2) Howlong have you been around for?

The Allbeer Finder website has been around since 2010 and gets a decent amount oftraffic. But it could be better muchbetter and I figured the naturalextension to the website, and the “All Beer Guide”, would be an app to help userschoose abeer theyll enjoy or a beer that will be a perfect pairing with food, all based on their flavour preferences. So in Novemberthis year I launched acrowdfunding campaign to enable me to re-launch the website and make the newapp come to life.

(3) How doyou make money

Theexisting website allows brewers to list their beers and theyve been able totake sponsorship of the new app and siteby becoming backers on our Kickstartercampaign, which successfully reached its target. The site also offers beerlovers and their friends and families looking for presents the opportunityto buy my “All Beer Guide” book or experiencepackage which can work forindividuals, for couples or for groups.

Outside ofthe All Beer app and website, my work as a brewing consultant has taken me allover the world launching andtasting beer it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotto do it!

(4) Whatmakes you different and why should people take notice?

Ivedeveloped a comprehensive and unique beer flavour database, which will beexpanded for the new app and websitewith flavour evaluations by highly trainedmaster sommeliers. it’s based on my own beer evaluation template thatidentifies flavour characters, intensity and even the level balance within abeer, and perceived balance is linked todrinkability.

Thecredibility of the template has been confirmed by scientific studies at the?International Centre for Brewing Science atnottingham University, resulting inpapers presented at the European, World Brewing Congress and American Societyofbrewing Chemists.

(5) Whatwas key in terms of getting started?

As far asthe Kickstarter campaign to get the funding for the app, research and pickingthe brains of others whod runcampaigns or researched crowdfunding wasinvaluable. The support of the brewers and of course from beer lovers, familyand friends who backed the campaign has been incredible too, and we couldnthave reached our funding targetwithout the industry getting behind us, backingthe campaign and helping to spread the word.

(6) What’syour biggest achievement to date?

The “All Beer Guide” was self-published and entirely self-funded, so as to remainindependent. That was tough but thefact it received four international awards wasproof we were on the right tracks. After that it’s making the Kickstartercampaign a success. Just a week before we ended we were only halfway towardsthe target, and if wed not got there, allour efforts would have been in vain.But the support, which came from tech-savvy food and drink lovers in Sheffieldandacross the world, and from local, national and internationalbrewers, was exceptional and I was thrilled that so manybrewers and beerlovers got behind us as it’s the natural partner to the “All Beer Guide”.

(7) What’setbacks have you had along the way?

As a’startup business based around education in a niche field, the financial crisishit us hard as all our target customersand fund sources dried up. I alwayswanted “All Beer guide” to work hand-in-hand with technology, but initially the cost ofentrywas too high. Now the platforms available are so much better but we stillneeded to crowd-fund to generate the money toinvest.

We made a flying start, up and over 2, 000 within the first few days but then the investment curve flatlinedfor a week before the campaign got a second wind. That had me reaching outfor specialist crowdfunding marketers, whichmade some difference, but not enoughto carry us over the line. Reaching out to the brewers which already had beer onthewebsite seems obvious now, as they were already bought-in to the concept, but it remained a major challenge in the lastfew days of the campaign.

(8) In fiveyears? time, I will be?

Splittingmy time between England, Italy and key export markets for Sentinel Brewing Co’sbeers such as USA, Canada andthe far East. There is a World-wide appetite forand interest in beer, with so many new brands appearing all the time. I amkeento grow the Sentinel brand in the UK and abroad and to make All Beer a trustedmarket leader, introducing peopleto beers they will love.

(9) Whatone tip would you give to others starting out?

Once youhave your vision, the one thing you need to realise it is determination.

(10) Whoare your business heroes and why?

Within my own industry there are so many talented andinspiring brewers who have set out to “do it their way” who havecreated’successful brands which in turn inspire others. The US craft scene has many, like Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada), Vinny Cilurzo (Russian River), Greg Kock and Steve Wagner (Stone) and Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head). At home my friendspaul Halsey and Jim Minkin have done a fantastic job with Purity and Alastairhook at Meantime trailblazed the crafting ofan exemplary range of beers along time before the current craft tsunami.

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On The Up

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