Self-serve beer expands, aiming to eliminate bar struggles and keg waste

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

PourMyBeer estimates that it saves venues up to $142 per keg, and can adapt to any type of alcohol.
PourMyBeer estimates that it saves venues up to $142 per keg, and can adapt to any type of alcohol.

Related tags Beer self-serve Craft beer Craft brewers Automation

The PourMyBeer system allows customers to serve themselves with interactive touch screens and RFID cards that charge per ounce. The new wave in automation has been designed to tackle the bottleneck in crowded bars and overworked bartenders; but the company also sees wider potential.

Founder and CEO Josh Goodman became interested in the automated beverage industry after experiencing one too many crowded bars and struggling to order drinks. He started work on the idea in 2009 and launched the current system in 2015.

PourMyBeer currently serves 184 spaces across the US, and another 45 internationally. They are mostly found in new and existing bars and restaurants, and the company has partnered with several Whole Foods and Buffalo Wild Wings locations.

According to Goodman, the idea was born out of a frustration with the six to seven steps to getting a drink in a traditional bar setting: getting a server’s attention, ringing up the sale, delivering the beverage, etc. PourMyBeer says it can eliminate many of these steps and give more power to the consumer.

Taps are arranged along a wall, rather than behind a bar counter, positioned under touch screens and card readers. Goodman told BeverageDaily that his clients average about 30 taps each and two taps per screen.

Customers are given a plastic RFID card that slots into a reader at each screen. They are then charged for the exact amount poured at the taps--sampling just a few sips or a whole pint.

Goodman said most kegs lose about 20%-23% in revenue in a traditional bar setting, and that PourMyBeer estimates that it saves venues up to $142 per keg.

“That’s a considerable chunk of revenue that’s not being recognized. Since our system is basically a one step process, and every ounce that’s dispensed is charged to the end customer, there’s 100% yield or close to it,”​ he said.

Automation opportunities range from festivals to co-working spaces

Since launching in 2015 the system has evolved, learning that integrating with point of sales systems is critical for larger clients like Whole Foods. It tends to stay away from pop-up engagements, but has started working with the military to provide it mobile units for events.

Goodman also shared that Pour My Beer will partner with a large music festival sometime this year, with plans to dispense $1m worth of drinks per day to attendees through the system, using 50%-60% less staff than would be typically needed.

The system is flexible and can work with all types of alcohol. Pre-mixed cocktails are a popular choice, as well as ciders. Goodman said, “We always say we’re liquid agnostic, we don’t care what you dispense.”

PourMyBeer doesn’t expect to reach full market penetration or completely replace bars, but it anticipates a future for the system among consumers drawn to experiential drinking​. The opportunity to try several drinks without purchasing full sizes or flights is an attractive one, and consumers are increasingly looking for interactive ways to drink and ‘go out’.

Beyond bar and restaurant venues, PourMyBeer sees potential within coworking office spaces that are growing in popularity in large cities. Hotels are another target market for the system, given that the RFID cards can be easily linked to hotel room keys.

Goodman also wants to become more of a data analytics company that can share with clients the age, gender, zip code, and pouring habits of customers. He believes it will be helpful information for owners and the beverage industry at large.

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