Managing draft beer can be a huge challenge for owners of beer bars. Knowing when a keg is getting low or if it’s truly dispensing the correct amount of pints can be costly. One new piece of technology that has entered the world of beer is from BruVue.
Chris Lorkowski and Mike Mitchell founded BruVue in 2016 and it is the only beverage inventory system on the market where sensors can be ordered online, received in the mail, dropped on beer faucets, and set up on a smartphone in minutes. BruVue also provides data and business intelligence to the entire beer ecosystem.
To assist in its development and growth, BruVue recently pitched Heineken in Amsterdam and of its 30 applicants where it won the Innovators Brewhouse Challenge. Along with this win and its closing of $1M in seed investment, BruVue is off to a promising start to assist bar owners in saving them up to $12,000 per year in unaccounted loss.
Here is our interview with BruVue co-founder Chris Lorkowski.
How did you come up with the idea of BruVue? Chris Lorkowski: My co-founder, Mike Mitchell – a former beer distributor and restaurateur – called me up in frustration one day. He said, “Chris, I know you are an engineer and like designing things”. He started telling me about his experience in a restaurant and what happens when you’re trying to take keg inventory. You have to go into a cooler crowded with heavy kegs, shake them, and try to guess how much beer is left. Mike was working for a beer distributor that day and had been asked to do a spot check on their inventory. He was driving bar to bar to go into their coolers to shake kegs.
After conceiving the idea, how long did it take you to develop the concept and see it in actual use? Chris: It seems simple, but It’s taken a couple years to work through the details of the sensor. We had prototypes up and running quickly, and Mike knew plenty of bars to test them, but evolving it into something that fit seamlessly into a bar owners routine took a lot of asking questions, learning, and testing.
You recently won the Heineken Innovators Brewhouse Challenge. How did you find out about this contest and what did BruVue receive in this award? Chris: The Next Web, Heineken’s partner for marketing the program found us online and reached out. We were already solving the exact challenge Heineken was faced with. We won tickets to a UEFA Champions League game, but more importantly, validation that we are solving a real challenge for the beer ecosystem and an opportunity to pilot our technology with the world’s most global brewer.
When monitoring the bar’s keg level, is this done online and/or through a mobile APP? Chris: Both – our sensors drop onto beer faucets and a bar owner can quickly access our dashboard from their smartphone or laptop.
Do you have any bars in the Pacific Northwest using BruVue? Chris: We recently sold to a location in California and are happy to send systems anywhere!
What is the monthly subscription fee for BruVue? Chris: You can pay for the sensors up front and an additional $10/sensor/month for data, or sign a 12 month contract to receive your sensors free and only pay $15/sensor/month for data.
Do you have any other beer technology plans you want to pursue? Chris: Yes! Stay tuned for some exciting new things later in 2018!
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 20 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter at @hopapalooza.