Having used the excellent mobile version of CAMRA's Good Beer Guide for over a year now I was intrigued to see whether Cask Marque's app for iPhone & Android could offer anything more.
Being free was a good start and the layout and navigation simple to figure out. The mapping of CM accredited pubs on CaskFinder is good on the whole though not that precise in some cases - a concern if you're on foot I would think. The GBG app is not foolproof here either as my searches for Norfolk pubs have often ended in recommendations in Sheffield for some reason!
A Beers & Brewers database is incorporated too, which I thought when loading seemed rather ambitious. In fact just over 200 breweries are featured along with notes on their core ranges but I'm assuming as a brewer you need to sign up and pay for the advertising (it is a free service after all). Still, the larger independents and many newer producers are here and the information is quite adequate with a link to their websites in most cases.
A feature I didn't expected is the Festivals calendar. Although not sortable by region, this seems quite a comprehensive list, not just confined to the larger CAMRA events. A quick tap on the fest that interests you will bring up a map along with details, if available. Some hundred or so were listed for the month of August alone, although I did notice a fair bit of repetition. A very useful service indeed though.
The Beer of the Week function is not, as I hoped, somewhere to note your newly found favourite ale but rather a recommendation by the software. This week it's Harvest Pale from Nottingham. There's a bit of history about the brewery and the beer plus the opportunity to rate it once you've tried it. The only advice you get on your quest is, 'worth a trip to Nottingham!' - but then it can hardly be expected to find the stuff.
Finally the Beer Blog icon. This doesn't unfortunately lead you here, but instead to Pete Brown's musings. This is not a bad idea though and is certainly preferable to reading what Cask Marque have been up to this week!
One other icon I haven't mentioned is the Beer Scanner, and that's because it doesn't work. It appears to be a straightforward bar code reader but unfortunately it wouldn't recognise anything I pointed it at. Perhaps this is in readiness for the new generation of scanable pump clips?!
In conclusion this is a very worthwhile addition to your app collection and, with more functionality planned, is set to become as indispensable as the Good Beer Guide.
For the iPhone version visit the app store and search for CaskFinder, Android users should visit the Android Market and do likewise.