03 August 2007

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack - Jonathan Surratt of Beermapping.com

Finding good beer while away from home is a problem a lot of beer geeks face. Unfamiliar surroundings often lead the beer desperate to drinking beer that doesn't meet the high quality standards that we've become accustomed to.

Luckily we've got a friend on the internet who's looking out for us. Jonathan Surratt, a web developer and hard core craft beer enthusiast based out of Chicago, has created beermapping.com, a Googlemaps based database application that aims to locate and chart out all locations where good beer can be found.

Hoosier Beer Geek recently contacted Jonathan to see what inspired the beermapping project, and to find out more about the beermapping project.

What inspired beermapping?

Jonathan Surratt: I started out building and running a beer based community site in North Carolina when I was living there (http://beerinator.com). I still run that site, and it has not changed its focus, although I do not update the front page articles anymore since I don't live there. I have devoted my time mostly at this point to The Beer Mapping Project.

I was inspired to work with google maps to map beer locations when my wife and I moved to Chicago. I wasn't totally sure where everything was in relation to where I was so I decided to give the google mapping api a shot.

What do you hope to accomplish with beermapping?

JS: My goal for beermapping is to promote craft beer by presenting tourists with good beer locations to visit. I don't really view the maps as tools that locals will always get the most out of. I think they are most helpful for people who are traveling to a new area. It may sound corny, but I feel that if I do my best to promote craft beer, then hopefully the industry will only get better.

How long has the beermapping project been going on?

JS: I have been setting up maps based around beer since October of 2005. The url was purchased in December of that year. I think I finished mapping all states with breweries and brewpubs in late December or very early January of 2006. The forums and review system are fairly new. I finished up the review system only three or four months ago.

How much time do you think you've devoted to beermapping? Does the site require a lot of everyday maintenance?

JS: I have probably put a few hundred hours into the website. I spend most days tweaking code, approving locations and adding new locations myself. Most of the time I spend on the site these days is researching places that have been submitted by my users. More often than not, they haven't done a complete search and they have submitted a location that is already in the database. Also, there are lots of bars submitted that are simply not craft beer bars or they aren't bars that have a focus on a good/craft beer selection.

How much money have you spent on beermapping?

JS: If I were to guess, I would say that I have probably spent a few hundred dollars on it. I spend somewhere around fifteen bucks a month for the server hosting. I do all the coding myself, often using open source (re: free) software solutions. I am currently in negotiations with a graphic designer about a new logo for t-shirts and possible sticker printing so that will run me a bit of money, but hopefully I'll be able to recoup that through t-shirt sales.

I make approximately 6 to 10 dollars a month through the google ad pages, so I am in no way profiting from this venture at the moment. In the future, I may entertain some sort of advertising campaign and I will be doing t-shirt sales.

I've noticed that in the about page you don't give your name - is there a reason for that?

JS: I have never felt that this project was about me. I feel like the people who use my site are a very large portion of the site itself. I have users that email me regularly after their travels, telling me of their experiences with certain pubs and breweries. The Beer Mapping Project was started by me, but thankfully it has grown beyond me and I think it includes many other users at this point.

I haven't looked at my about page recently (whoops) and I'm sure it still talks about there being one person behind the wheel, but I probably should consider updating that in the near future.

All of us at Hoosier Beer Geek offer our thanks to Jonathan and all those who've put in work at beermapping.com. It's a project done out of love for craft beer, and that's certainly something we all can appreciate. Beermapping is certainly worthy of a five mug rating.

1 comment:

  1. This is actually pretty cool, even though there's no Indianapolis beer map yet. I haven't taken a look at the Google Maps API, but would it be possible to work the CTA transit map into the Chicago beer map? Same goes for any other city with a major public transportation system.

    Perhaps I'll go through and see what I can do about adding some more locations or reviews in my spare time.

    Awesome site and kudos to you for putting something like this together!