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QR Codes in Craft Beer Industry Is About Something Old, Something New, Yet Innovative
QR (quick response) codes have been around for about twenty-five years and have become ubiquitous for smartphones At one point I thought NFC (Near Field Communications) tags were the way of the future; No more. NFC still has applications, but the craft beer industry is moving full tilt toward using QR codes for a variety of applications.
Consumers appreciate QR codes because they can provide a wealth of product information that facilitates purchase decisions, builds loyalty, increases brand awareness, encourages trial, and saves time. A consumer experience with a taproom or brewery can be complete and quick if a QR code landing page/site is designed properly.
Today craft beer QR codes can be found on coasters, packaging, in-store displays, literature and beer menus. These codes are on signage in brewery taprooms and brewpubs that, when scanned, will provide detailed information about specific beer styles, ingredients, brewmasters, and any app the mind can conjure up.
From a brewery’s perspective a well-designed landing site/page will allow the consumer to make an informed decision about the beers they can try, freeing up staff and creating a welcoming tone and presentation of beer offerings. Further, QR codes allow the brewery to add a personality to the brand to bring the customer as an insider. Some breweries choose to add a video/audio of the brewmaster explaining his thoughts on crafting the beer recipe.
Of note, the TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau) is “in the loop” on anything, even remotely, considered part of beer advertising. Simply put, what you say about your craft beer product via a QR code must appear on the label and within the beverage alcohol advertising regulations. Beer regulations in the EU require labels to contain ingredient and nutritional information. It could be coming to America and what better place to include such information than on a website accessed via QR codes.
When collecting information on QR codes used by breweries, we find many options for help from experienced vendors. Some of the breweries we contacted use a company called Flocode. So, we approached them for the information in this article.
“We know brewers and wine companies take great pride in their craft, and that’s why Flowcode is the perfect QR code technology partner for them. Flowcode’s technology and data analytics capabilities combine next-generation QR technology and mobile-first landing pages with leading-edge design, They can create measurable, interactive moments both at the brewery and on the bottle label that are brand aligned, ultra-fast and dynamic (which means instantly updateable content).
“By simply scanning FlowCode with their smartphone’s camera/code reader, patrons can instantly explore specific differentiation information about a craft beer and engage more deeply at any customer touchpoint,” said Jim Norton, FlowCode’s Chief Revenue Officer.
“The alluring thing about QR codes is that a brewery, taproom or brewpub doesn’t need to build an app to get into the game; if you have a website, you’re good to go. In some cases, “you can get into the game for as little as $10 a month. Less”, says Norton. Most smartphone users now have QR code readers on their phones
Don’t have a suitable website? Flowcode has also created a turn-key landing page option called FlowPage. It’s a no-code mobile-first experience, so breweries, taprooms, or brewpubs don’t even need to have a website, they can create a FlowPage in minutes and go.
As an aside. I recently visited a craft beer taproom that brews a beer I’d like to try. I started asking the server about options. I was directed to the QR code printed on the coaster he gave me and voila, all the style descriptions appeared there. In fact, the descriptions were in an audio form that featured the brewmaster and included descriptions of the hops used in the barley. I even decided to opt in to receive e-mails from the brewery on recipes and future releases.
Tom Hope, VP-Tableside Partners (a fish house and brewery) explains how sophisticated a QR code system can be: “We put together a QR code that, when scanned from the menu with your smartphone, takes you into an experience. comes where you can meet the captain of the ship that caught the scallops, for example. It tells you where they came from”. Moreover, they are using codes to access valuable customer data, an approach adopted by TAPS (restaurants) to drive customer loyalty. Obviously, this same application could apply to a craft beer brewery that offers an experience straight from the brewmaster.
By using a dynamic QR code (versus a static code), relevant changes in information can be updated virtually instantly. For example, if a particular beer becomes unavailable and/or a new beer is added to a taproom/brewpub’s line-up, simply update the information and keep it live on the site. This may apply to product information, pricing and promotions.
Or codes in the retail food industry have been around for some time. They often appear on packaging and print ads. As mentioned, they enhance users’ experience with a product, add to the body of product information, and reduce advertising costs. It is said that a picture or video can be worth a thousand words in print. This is indeed the case with QR code applications.
Depending on a brewery’s goals, implementing a QR code program doesn’t need to be complicated. Research from the Brewers Association summarizes that craft beer consumers are sophisticated and comfortable with technology. Whether interacting with these codes as a consumer or brewery, here are some features of QR codes as part of beer labels/packaging in a taproom or at the retail level:
Error-free processing – No more inputting URLs in a small space on a smartphone
Ability to present more useful information in audio, text/image or video format.
Engaging with the consumer easily and quickly can reshape brand and marketing strategies.
Codes may be activated by collecting customer data. Launching surveys or tracking customer likes/dislikes.
Any data pointed to the consumer can be updated dynamically in the backend.
Conveniently collect consumer data and use it to create loyalty programs to bond consumers with Breweries Real.
Reduces advertising costs.
The road to successful QR codes is guided by good planning and implementation:
Be specific about what you/the brewery think consumers expect from your QR code interfacing system.
Roll out with a simple site that’s user-friendly and fast—it needs to be organized and intuitive.
Minimize the inputs required from the user.
Make it a friendly site that includes the brewery/taproom staff. Video personalizes branding.
Oh yeah, don’t think technology stands still when it comes to craft beer.
Note: A new innovative technology is coming to the US soon, which will enhance the experience of telling a story about a beer or brewery. “Scheduled for a Q3 2021 rollout, BEERSCANS™ is a platform for the craft beer industry that uses smartphones to scan labels and “augmented reality” to project content/messages from brewers onto their own cans and bottles”. has been reported American craft beer.
The problem with this technology is that a label must be scanned on a smartphone using an app. Further, in a brewery taproom environment, beer is sold in glass containers and labels are not printed on glasses.
The craft beer sector around the world has embraced QR codes as a marketing tool as it offers many creative options for implementation.
Twins Barnes Brewery-Meredith, NH
Here is an example of QR codes used to create text conversations through an online game to promote a new beer Flowcode designed application captures customer attention and creates moments of engagement between customers and employees. The birthday game experience generated the brewery’s highest text-activated redemption rate.
Michigan’s Sherwood Brewing uses QR codes on their online and in-store flyers to promote their ‘pre-kind’ happy hour specials.
Cisco Brewery in Boston Seaport
Cisco Brewery in Boston Seaport uses flowcodes around the brewery to scan their menu.
Provincetown Brewery – Provincetown, MA
PBC uses beer to build community and give back. They use Flocode in drinking so that they can meet the head complications of COVID.
Southern Pines Brewing Company
They use coasters to engage consumers in understanding their beer.
Knocking Point Wine
Knocking Point Wine is so enamored with a QR code that they made it an integral part of a label.
With minimal time searching the internet, it doesn’t take long to discover that QR codes have been in the beer industry for decades. It is now becoming clear that QR codes are being pushed into new applications and the cloud. However, in writing for this blog I am most interested in drawing attention to the aspects of the craft beer industry that bring the industry to life for breweries and consumers. Not everything about craft beer needs to be complicated and rooted in chemistry. There are many facts that make craft beer enjoyable, interesting, fun and educational. And most importantly, the fascinating thing about the craft beer industry is that it has some interesting people. The human-interest side of the business showcases people who want to meet and discuss their passion for materials, styles and trends. Breweries and consumers alike should explore QR codes and learn how to use them to advance a great industry.
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