Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Minerva! Take me drinking!

I got a GPS last December (December 31st: needed some deductions!), a Garmin Nüvi 200, and I've been teaching her (I call her Minerva, drives the kids nuts) how to find beer. Slowly, one brewpub at a time.

Then I was over at BeerAdvocate and got to thinking...if I could somehow -- no, wait, let's start over: if someone who knew what they were doing could somehow put together -- okay, "mash-up" Google maps and the list of beer spots on BeerAdvocate to create a Trip-Tik® of beer that I could then load into the GPS and know where good beer was wherever I went. More than I do now, that is. So I put that up on one of the forums over there as a "hey, anyone know how to do this?" I got a couple of "Hey, good idea" responses, but nothing useful.

Then I get an e-mail from Jonathan Surratt, the guy who's shoving together the brilliant BeerMapping.com site. Hey, he says, that thing you want? We've got it. So I cunningly ask him, can you give me a taste? And he sent me the file for Philadelphia. It took me all of eight minutes to get everything on the Nüvi, including downloading the POI Downloader software from Garmin, and I was loaded for beer. Then it was a couple weeks till I got a chance to use it!

But use it I did, and it rocked. I punch up the Custom POI (that's Point Of Interest, Garmin-speak for "Where I Wanna Go") for "Philadelphia Beer" and Minerva shows me a list of the closest places. If I want, I can just grab one, or I can spell one out if I want someplace in particular. And since I bought a nifty little Minerva mount for my bike, I can even get directions while pedaling from bar to bar. Yes, indeedy, it's gonna revolutionize my life.

My only complaint was that it didn't include phone numbers; Jonathan explained it was a compromise. Okay. So I stepped up and paid for a full subscription to the service, which will let me download anything from the BeerMapping site for Minerva. Full subscription. Unlimited downloads. Lifetime. $15. Believe me, it's a steal.

(Okay, to actually do this takes a little work. First, create a free account on BeerMapping.com. Easy-peasy. Then go here and pay your $15 (PayPal...I hate PayPal). Then when you do a search on BeerMapping, you'll see a button that says "Download POI file for this search." Do that, and then it's kind of up to you to get that file into your GPS. YMMV: putting it into my Garmin was incredibly easy.)

I'm headed for the World Beer Festival in Durham this weekend, and I've got DC, Richmond, and the Triangle loaded in. Jonathan told me he just went ahead and downloaded every place in the country by type: one big file each for brewpubs, bars, breweries, homebrew shops, and beer stores. Might do that, but for now, baby steps.

Minerva! Beer! Let's go!

14 comments:

Frank Hahne said...

Oh my God! This could be the best thing ever for the dedicated beer tourist. I don't have a GPS thingy, but I'm gonna tell those I know who do. What a fabulous idea, and a great price, to boot. Thanks for the tip, Lew!

Lew Bryson said...

I live to serve. Maybe you should get a GPS and go looking for some 'Budweiser,' Frank...

Russ said...

Beermapping.com is also great for those of use who don't have a GPS unit but do have a pda. Unlike BeerAdvocate, it's much more friendly with my BlackBerry and also unlike BeerAdvocate it gives me a map of nearby breweries so I can figure out how close and/or convenient various bars/breweries/beer stores are to where I am (especially handy when I'm somewhere new and I have no idea which towns are nearby and which are clear across the state).

Lew Bryson said...

I'm telling you...I remember when we used to do this stuff by hand. One of the most valuable things about beer festivals was meeting people from other towns who could tell you where good beer could be found. The Internet has made sharing that knowledge so easy it boggles the beer-drinking mind. Adding it to navigation electronics...I'd say it makes it too easy, but that would be ridiculous!

Rich said...

Uh, Lew...link to the files...I'm too lazy to look. Thanks.

Lew Bryson said...

Rich,

It doesn't quite work that way. I put some instructions in the post, that should get you there.

Glenn said...

Another plug for Mr Beermapping is he was very instrumental in the Pop the Cap movement here in NC before he moved up North. Which makes the WBF much more of an interesting get together ;-) Lew stop by and say hello to the "brewcrew" (the behind the scenes folks who get the beers out to the tables). I've read your blog for a while and would like to say hello!

Lew Bryson said...

Hey, Glenn, I'm always happy to meet a reader, and to hang with brewcrew. See you Saturday!

TC said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of global positioning. Now go on the Garmin website, go to Extras and access the Garmin Garage - you'll want to download the Spitfire (called the Wingman). Failing that, there's always the Commander. Now that you've got a GPS, you gonna go geocaching?

Lew Bryson said...

I want the Wingman! It's mine!

Yeah, well, I might be tempted to do some geocaching. Cathy's bros do some of it, we went along, had fun. I sense a family outing...

Thanks for the Garage tip, TC!

Spencer said...

Has anyone tried this with a TomTom?

Jonathan said...

Spencer,

One of the beermapping moderators is using a Tom Tom Navigator as his primary GPS device. He has to run the file through a free converter (POIedit) first.

What isn't mentioned here is that a subscriber can access two types of files. One is the "simple" csv that can be dropped straight into a Garmin or similar device with little effort.

But we also provide a "complex" csv file that users can download and sort/organize in the way that they are most interested in. Here are the columns for that file:

lat | lng | name | street | city | state | phone | loctype | score

So you can download this file for any search and then build your own type of csv from that.

Thanks for the press Lew!

e.s. delia said...

Well, you won't need a GPS for finding the best spots in Richmond, seeing as how they are few but extraordinary. I live half a block from one of them, and maybe a mile or so from another; so if you stop to hit Legend, Capital Ale, or one of the other good spots in the Downtown/Fan area on your way down, shoot me an email!

Lew Bryson said...

E.S.,
Been there, drank that...just need the GPS to get right there. But I didn't stop at any places on the way down, I just went right here to my bro-in-law's in Chester, and we've been drinking out of my cooler -- Sly Fox Ofest, Bud American Ale and Michelob Dunkel Weisse, Sam Adams Imperial Pilsner -- and Carl's fridge: Paulaner Ofest and Redhook Harvest.
Oh yeah.