For your friends who need a bit more encouragement to visit your favorite brewery.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated October 09, 2018
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Buying someone a beer is one of the oldest forms of camaraderie out there. But in the past decade, not only has the way we communicate with friends changed, but the way we drink beer has changed as well. Smartphone apps have replaced a lot of our personal interaction. And though bars are certainly still social hotspots, the latest trend is going directly to the source and drinking at brewery taprooms. A Knoxville, Tennessee-based startup is trying to merge these ideas into one—allowing friends to digitally buy each other beer at local taprooms.

Apps that let you buy beers for a friend aren’t a new concept, but BrewFund—which is available for both Apple and Android devices—wants to have its pulse on the craft beer zeitgeist. More so than ever, beer lovers are likely to do their drinking at taprooms, and though only working with specific partner breweries limits the scope of the app in some ways, it also provides a very specific purpose: Beer fans can support their favorite breweries by gifting their friends a reason to go there, and the breweries themselves can benefit from promotion that’s even better than word of mouth… free beer.

For now, BrewFund has partnered with 46 breweries across six states—mainly in Tennessee, but also in Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. "We are constantly adding new locations and we are always happy to partner with other taprooms with our free platform," explains CEO and co-founder David Nelson.

Courtesy of BrewFund

Each of these brewers then works with the app to provide custom “gifting” options for users like beers, tasting flights, or merchandise. The breweries can even choose to bundle packages together like a pint and a shirt or a pint where you get to keep the glass. Gifters can add a message when sending free brews, and if you’re not happy with what you’ve received, you can even go the re-gifting route and pass your spoils on to someone else.

Though the company has been around since 2016, the Knoxville News Sentinel says that BrewFund has seen interest ramp up significantly this year, selling over 3,000 items. Co-founder David Nelson told the paper they’re looking to play up the loyalty side of the app moving forward by letting breweries add loyalty programs alongside the gifting options. “[We] noticed with the increased competition, the industry is suffering with loyalty,” he said. “A loyal customer will bring other people in and stay longer.” Part of what makes BrewFund an interesting concept is that you can be loyal to your local brewery even if you’re not there.