Jacqueline Wattles photo
The Connecticut Beer Trail, an initiative to promote local breweries launched by legislators in 2011, announced the release of a new iPhone App on Tuesday that will promote the initiative’s first “Beer Week.”

The App that was launched by Beerdog.com recognizes photographs of beer labels, allows users to chat about the beer, and maps out locations that locally brewed beers can be found.

“Every beer that’s ever been made in the state [and] every venue you can find it is in my App,” Kevin Bradshaw, the president and founder of Beerdog.com, said. “And it’s not just for people in Connecticut, the idea is that you can message in real time anyone drinking a beer through the App and encourage them to come to this state.”

Connecticut Beer Week, which runs through May 18, is a series of events hosted by breweries, wholesalers, and restaurants around the state under the slogan “Brew and Buy Local.” Though the Beerdog.com App can be used anywhere in the world, Bradshaw — a Connecticut resident — said the App will promote Beer Week by recognizing a user’s location and notifying them of events in their area.

Sens. Andrew Maynard, D-Stonington, and Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, launched the Connecticut Beer Trail as a means of promoting Connecticut’s beer industry through legislation two years ago.

“In this difficult economy, the beer industry is creating many jobs for the actual brewers in the state of Connecticut,” Doyle said.

There are currently 18 breweries in the state, and, according to a joint study by the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association, the industry encompasses more than 11,000 jobs and contributes more than $769 million to the state economy.

Rep. Chris Perone, D-Norwalk, said the App is the link that will connect tourists and local beer enthusiasts and encourage them to visit other nearby breweries.

“Having an App in their phone can digitally connect them to what the latest locations are. It’s the key to promoting this business,” said Perone, a member of the House Commerce Committee.

Randy Fiveash, the director of the Connecticut Office of Tourism, said Beer Week addresses an important change in the $11.5 billion Connecticut tourism industry.

“People travel differently than they used to. If you think about the way you vacation now, it’s different than the way people vacationed even five or six years ago. People travel on their stomachs now […] and the beer industry is part of that,” he said.

Rep. Daniel Rovero, D-Putnam, added that the Connecticut Beer Trail initiative is one all residents should rally behind.

“Whether you like beer or not, you have to get behind it because we’re creating jobs and helping the economy,” Rovero said.

Jason McClellan, an East Hartford pub owner and secretary of the non-profit Connecticut Brewer’s Guild, said the “beer scene” is among the top 20 reasons young professionals move to an area, making the initiative an important one for making Connecticut an attractive place to live.

Bradshaw said Beerdog.com is considering launching a Connecticut-specific App that would use the same interface and technology as the more general Beerdog App and tailor it to the Connecticut Beer Trail. The Beerdog App is free to download from Apple’s App Store and has been downloaded about 2,000 times since it was launched last week, according to Bradshaw.