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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Oregon Brewers Guild: Webby

Last night, the Oregon Brewers Guild held a website-launch party in the groovy offices of the web designers. For those of you who have been to the site in the past, you know it was ... under-designed. It had the happenin' style of them new internets, circa 1994. And some content from that era, too. As OBG Director Brian Butenschoen demonstrated the features, there were a couple of side jokes about how it was nice the new site had joined the 21st century. Indeed.

The current version is clean and easy to use and has a couple of features to which I'd like to draw your attention:
  • Much of the design is structured around a blog. Thanks to the wonder of tags, this means there's an updated events page.
  • The breweries page is updated and accurate, sorted by region or alpha.
  • Proving its 21st-century cred, the site features Twitter, which I'll admit isn't something I've spent a lot of time studying.
It has stats and info you'd expect to find about the industry. If I could offer a little constructive criticism, I'd mention that the breweries listing could include more info--for example, the brewers' names, year founded, and hours of operation (in the case of brewpubs). It's possible that I'll figure out how to put a widget on my site that includes updated events info (does Twitter do that), which would certainly be handy. There's a feature called "Meet a Friend for a Pint" which essentially sends an email (except when I tried, it--then it sent an error message). Dunno if that's going to revolutionize anything, but I like the idea, anyway.

It would be cool if there was even richer information, like a database of the brewers in Oregon, with one- or two-paragraph bios. These guys are rock stars, and I imagine I'm not the only one who would like to know more about them. It would be a great way to feel an even more personal contact with the beer we love.

But hey, they just launched. It's a vast improvement, so let's not focus on the negative. Brian and president Van Havig deserve credit for finally dragging the thing into the new millenium. Congrats!

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