Now Tapped, the free service providing live tap lists for venues and drinkers alike that was launched at Good Beer Week in 2014 by an Aussie beer lover has today announced it is to close down. Founder Angus Bremner says it appears Untappd have shut off his access to their API, meaning venues have been unable to update their lists since last week.
He says he has been attempting to contact Untappd via every means possible to find out why they'd "pulled the plug", but the only person to respond to him to date has been Greg Avola, one of the original co-founders of the app. He told Angus he'd left the business he founded – which was sold to Next Glass in 2016 – in January of this year.
Since its launch in 2014, Now Tapped has been used by close to 1,000 breweries and venues across Australia. The service was offered free to businesses, and was designed, built and maintained by Angus out of his own pocket and as a hobby alongside his main job. It allowed businesses to upload beers as they tapped them so punters could see what was on offer at their local. And, after running a story on the app in its early days, we featured the lists on the pages of listed businesses on The Crafty Pint too.
Angus (pictured above) says that since sending out a message about the end of Now Tapped this morning, he's received messages from many business owners saying they're really sad to see it go; others have been making contact asking how to sign up right up to this week.
He told The Crafty Pint that Untappd have strict terms covering use of their API, which Now Tapped tapped into for its vast database of beers, and says he "may have been pushing the line on some of them for a while". He also describes Untappd as both his creation's greatest strength and biggest weakness, but points out he never monetised Now Tapped as that was a key condition for anyone using their data.
"They do reserve the right to cut it off without notice and they chose to use that right," he says.
"It's annoying that they haven't been able to give me an explanation as to what I was doing wrong, so I don't know the actual reasons why. They've been notoriously difficult to contact."
He says he'd formed a good relationship with the original founder, Greg, who Angus figures is a kindred spirit – a software developer with a passion for craft beer – but says "it feels like a corporate machine right now".
Untappd, which was founded in October 2010, was bought by Next Glass in 2016, an umbrella company that has also acquired brands including Beer Advocate. In the first half of last year, it received investment from Boston-based equity firm Providence Strategic Growth.
"I've no idea what Untappd's perception of Now Tapped was – if it was even on their radar or if they viewed it as a threat to their business," Angus says.
Whatever the perception, the risk that was always in the background for Now Tapped – that they would pull the plug on his access to their data – has come to pass. In a blog post about the decision to shutter his app, he even suggests venues not already using Untappd for Business start paying for that service now his free platform is gone.
"I think they will become the monopoly in the market now," Angus says. "I don't think there's enough room in the market for too many big players like that. It's good for users to have one place to go to for tap lists rather than two, but I also know there are a lot of venues reluctant to hand over money, especially to a business that's overseas.
"We love supporting local breweries and we love supporting local businesses, and it's the same with the app. It's good to be able to support a local startup rather than a corporate conglomerate."
While he thinks there could be alternative means of launching a new version of Now Tapped, he's says he's come to an acceptance the time is probably right to "make the tough call and know when it's time to stop".
Asked about the app's launch in 2014, and whether he thought it would grow to where it did, becoming such a key part of the local craft beer community, he says, simply: "Absolutely not!
"When I started it, I didn't have any idea if it would take off. I probably shouldn't have been that surprised as I was when it did as clearly there was a need for it in the market.
"When it did take off, it was a bit of a surprise and something I had to manage on the side for the last seven years, which has been a struggle, but I'm really proud I've been able to make that little contribution to the craft beer world."
The Crafty Pint has approached Untappd for comment.