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Tapped In: Metro Vancouver brewery releases 'augmented reality' beer

Does beer need augmented reality?
vox-rea-beer
The augmented reality beer is by Field House Brewing in Abbotsford with local band Vox Rea.

Many would argue that beer already augments reality, but in this case Field House really went with a more literal definition.

For those new to the idea, augmented reality is a growing trend (and its own industry) that broadly refers to physical things being advanced in some form in the digital world. While that's a big vague idea, in practice these days we're often seeing it as a QR code that leads to something being superimposed on our phone screen as we look at reality through a digital lens.

What's all that got to do with beer?

Field House paired up with Vox Rea, a local band making their own way in the world with dreamy, languid songs reminiscent of Lana del Rey if she got into jacksoul. The band reached out to the brewery earlier this year, eager to do a collaboration as their new album was forthcoming; both were interested in the intersection of culture, music and the beer label.

They tasked Field House's intern with the job of figuring out how to integrate the band's dreamy video style in with the label in a virtual way.

"Vox Rea had amazing artwork that we could play off," says Field House spokesperson Robyn Bessneger.

"We did more of the collab with them on the label and they were the inspiration for the beer," she adds.

The beer, inspired in a big way by the band's fondness for Field House's Dark Sour (which has blueberries and blackberries), is the Hibiscus Dark Cherry Sour, a strong sour that probably appeals to wine lovers as much as classic beer drinkers.

It fits in well with the brewery's wide selection of sours and fruited beers; the hibiscus is a bit lost in it all, but the cherry provides an ample balance to the sourness, creating a big, distinct flavour as the two play off each other. As noted, this is a beer wine drinkers might enjoy, but it's far from a tame offering.

The Abbotsford brewery, with a collection of Canadian Brewing Awards and known for its homegrown focus, is considered a top-tier brewery by many in the province, and the beer fits in with all that, and the band.

To be honest, the augmented reality piece is a bit lacklustre but the concept has promise. The term 'augmented reality' oversells the experience.

After scanning the QR code the viewer gets a clip of the band's 'Dose Me Up' music video. If you're holding your phone vertically it plays the video horizontally with the screen showing reality as is behind your phone. Text floats around as well, just to share the names of the band, brewery and beer again.

The brewery is still excited by what they made, though.

Bessneger says the original intention was to have a more direct tie-in with the Vox Rea album, but the beer was finished before the album.

And it's no doubt difficult, especially as a brewery, to get involved in leading-edge media technology. Now that Field House has broken that ground they're looking at integrating it more.

"I think it's something we're going to keep doing in some medium," says Bessenger, adding she expects Canadian consumers will see the use of AR with products more often going forward. 

"It's exciting to see where all this develops as people get more familiar with it."

Worth getting a can for the AR experience in the label? Not so much. But worth getting the beer for the beer that's inside? Absolutely.