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This Brewery is Turning To An App to Keep Your Thirst Quenched During Quarantine

It was only a matter of time until we began to see more companies move their business models into the digital world, and the coronavirus pandemic has surely expedited the process. Smartphone apps give companies in every market the ability to reach customers in a more direct and intimate fashion, and that’s a win-win for both the seller and the buyer. Sometimes, though, the customer ends up the big winner in that relationship and that’s the case with the Great Notion Brewing App.

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The Portland-based brewery takes its name from an eclectic Ken Kesey novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, and it does an incredible job with taking inspiration from the book’s poetic yet polarizing nature, and applying similar methods to its beer production. You’ll find the widely available hazy IPAs, sour ales, and stouts amongst the brewery’s offerings, but it’s the added culinary, artistic touch that give these beers their mystery. 

From the coveted and aptly named ‘Blueberry Muffin’ Sour Berliner Weisse to the maple syrup infused ‘Double Stack’ that tastes like a cold, boozy glass on flapjacks, Great Notion delivers a unique experience that goes beyond the beer, and that’s where its new venture comes in. 

The Great Notion Brewing App allows customers to order beer directly from one of its taprooms for local delivery or same day pickup, supplying avid frequenters with their beer fix during these troubling times. The new augmented reality app is something the brewery has been working on for a while, and quarantine seemed like the perfect opportunity to let it loose.

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“We had begun brainstorming ways to open new locations without actually opening new locations in early 2019 when the app was born in our minds,” said Paul Reiter, CEO and Co-founder of Great Notion. 

“It then took 6 months of design work before we began moving into 6 months of development when COVID hit. Development, similar to construction, always results in some delays. At first we were hoping to drop the app in early 2020 but then we were thinking summer. Once COVID hit we rushed things to drop it in April.  We hope to take it out of Beta phase, once we integrate some of the cool augmented reality and video game Easter eggs we’ve been hinting at, soon.”

To begin, customers simply create an account through the app and join the Timber Crew: “A band of misfits walkin’ in the woods in search of fresh stumpage.” Once you’ve joined the crew, you’ll have access to Great Notion’s online ordering system,  the opportunity to sift through its newest beer drops, merchandise, and characters, as well as stack points and earn rewards.

For Portlanders, Great Notion has been a frequented watering hole for avid beer lovers, but you always had to go to a taproom to get your fix. With the release of the app, an opening of a new location in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, and another Seattle taproom opening soon after, Great Notion is slowly but surely expanding its reach of quirky beer concoctions to more lips and stomachs. 

“Most casual beer drinkers still have never even heard of us though, since we don’t sell our beer in supermarkets or bottle shops,” Reiter said. “You need to follow us on social media and have the app to really know who we are and what beer’s dropping when. As for shipping, we hope to roll out shipping in the Pacific NW to start this autumn and follow shortly thereafter with a few other beer-friendly shipping states, like Washington DC, for example.”

And that’s not all. With some help from illustrator Chad Eaton, the Great Notion Brewing App features an immersive world of mischief mascots that enhance your beer drinking experience. There is a mascot for each beer and each character dons a unique origin story, name, age, and description, which can be found on the app, to turn your downtime hobby into a world of imagination and representation – like flavors coming to life.

“Chad is the shit and the original owner of his awesome skeleton, bear, and Sasquatch characters,” said Reiter. “We worked out a deal with Chad to have him reimagine some of those characters for Great Notion and then we commission him to constantly draw new fun creatures for us. We wanted to have fun-filled forest creatures represent our fun-filled culinary-inspired forest beers! We have a lot more in the works, too, like a fluffy alpaca, a new Portland bridge, and more. Some of my personal faves are the Tanuki (remember Super Mario 3?), the squirrel (had fun coming up with his name after reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my kids), and the bunny (hello Clone Wars).”

The Great Notion Brewing App has really helped foster an even closer relationship between the brewery and its regulars, and it has allowed Great Notion has taken its efforts even further to lend a helping hand to its local community members. The brewers have donated well over $50,000 so far this year to local nonprofits like the Black Resilience Fund as well as accommodating its laid-off employees.

This likely won’t be the last app you see from breweries around the country, but it’s one that has us excited for what’s to come. 

Reiter also hinted at a few additions we can expect, including an integrated Superstar video game, a few augmented reality characters, as well as some updated and expanded shipping routes.

Are you a really big fan of bold, hoppy brews? Check out our favorite fresh hop beers to drink right now.

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Bryan Holt
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Bryan Holt is a writer, editor, designer, and multimedia storyteller based in Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate from the…
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