In this world, there are talkers and there are doers. SteadyServ co-founder and CEO Steve Hershberger is one of the latter.

The former Flat12 Bierwerks owner went out one night in 2011 to have a few pints of his craft brewery’s latest beer, only to find it was out of stock at five different bars he visited. Now, where most of us would have had a massively satisfying (yet ultimately ineffectual) bitchfest, Hershberger germinated a business idea: a tech service that manages beer inventory and sales.

Photo: SteadyServ

Photo: SteadyServ

The idea flowered into SteadyServ‘s iKeg system, which allows brewers, beer distributors, and bar owners to access real-time data on their mobile devices. An article in Inc. explains how it works:

“Distributors equip each keg they sell with a radio-frequency identification tag that has information on the keg’s contents, including the type of beer, the volume, and its age. When the keg reaches a bar or restaurant, the owners place it on a sensor that reads the tag and measures the keg’s weight. As the beer gets depleted, it automatically sends data to the cloud on how much is left—down to the pint—and when it will run out at the current rate of sale.”

Photo: SteadyServ

Photo: SteadyServ

Turns out, most bartenders don’t know exactly how much beer is left in a keg at any given time. They generally rely on estimates based on how heavy it feels which, needless to say, is a highly inefficient way of keeping track of your inventory. A keg might be kicked before a new one is ordered, meaning that particular beer is unavailable in the interim. Or it might be replaced when there’s still some beer left in it—according to the article, some iKeg test restaurants were wasting up to 15% of their stock this way.

The other selling point is that the iKeg system tracks each business’s sales. It can crunch that data and tell a bar owner the optimal time to throw a seasonal beer on the line, which brews sell best next to each other, and how well those suds are moving compared to nearby competitors.

So what’s the bottom line? The system currently costs around $4 per keg for the hardware, plus a monthly access fee that starts at $30. Whether that’s a worthwhile investment depends on the value you place on having the beer you want available. Because as the SteadyServ website points out, wanting and having your beer are not the same thing.

[via Inc.]