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!