/ Food & Drink

Would you pay to pour your own pint?

Pint pouring

A new self-service draught beer system allows customers to pour and pay for their drinks directly at the beer tap, but would you pay to pour your own pint?

Venues across the UK and Ireland now have the option to install new technology that would allow customers to pull their own pints from a 16-tap self-serve ‘beer wall’, and pay with credit or debit cards, or contactless mobile payments.

The University of Reading has already introduced the self-serve taps in its student union, with the university saying the move has increased its capacity to serve more customers, as well as delivering a faster service.

But how would you react if one of these beer walls was introduced in your local?

Perfect pint pouring

Pouring and serving the perfect pint could be could be considered an art. Stella Artois has a nine-step pouring ritual, there’s a plethora of YouTube videos on how to pour the perfect Guinness and if you’re skilled then you could test yourself in a pint pouring contest. It’s annoying when you get served a badly poured pint, but at least you can ask for another if a bartender has poured it for you.

While the convenience of these self-serve beer walls shouldn’t be overlooked, and in a society where we’re rapidly moving away from cash payments and introducing AI and robotics in place of human staff, it seems like a logical progression to take the same approach in our bars and restaurants.

But as a former bartender myself, I’m 50/50 on whether I’d welcome this technology in my favourite bars and boozers. The customer in me, who turns into a bit of a hothead after waiting at a bar for ages whilst watching everyone around me get served first, would love to be able to skip the queues and pull my own pint.

Whilst the novelty of pint-pouring is a bit lost on me after having spent my university years serving drinks in my student union, I can’t argue that it wouldn’t make me a little nostalgic for the fun I had whilst working there.

Pub practicalities

So will this take off in pubs? I’m not so sure. When I think about some of the more stressful aspects of bar work, I can’t help but be slightly relieved we didn’t have to worry about the difficulties a self-service bar might bring to the job.

The biggest question for me is, how would bars ensure that these self-service taps were only being used responsibly and legally? It’s difficult enough to ensure that under-agers aren’t pulling a fast one by getting their older mates to buy their drinks, so offering self-service taps are likely to complicate this further.

Would you welcome the introduction of a self-service beer tap in your favourite pub? Do you think this will improve or ruin the customer experience in your local pub?

Colin G Griffiths says:
14 October 2017

As the bars will have a much lower outlay, without having to pay for barstaff are they prepared to reduce the cost of a pint,Also who’s going to get you your bag of crisps etc or will they be in those UGLY vending machines as well YUK what a thought.


It could work in some circumstances and would be nice to have the choice to use the self-service when in a hurry. By ‘in a hurry’ I mean times when you are meeting friends in a pub, but you may only have an hour or two till your last transport home. I’ve been in such circumstances where I am visiting friends in another city and trying to squeeze as much into my day there as possible. I resent wasting precious minutes (5,10 or more minutes in a busy pub) waiting to be served, when i could be back at the table chatting.

The social aspect in regard to interaction with the bar staff mentioned above I find to be extremely rare, or at least it is rare to be satisfying. Even in real-ale pubs the staff are normally far too busy to chat to customers, or conversations are constantly interrupted by other people needing served. If the pub is quieter and a chat to the bar staff could be theoretically feasible, then more often or not, the said bar staff are spotty teenage oiks who have not developed a personality yet, have nothing of interest (to anyone who isn’t a teenager) to say, or have their heads buried in their phone in between pint pourings.

That’s not to say that I have not had interesting dialogues with bar staff; when I used to work nightshift 4 nights on, 4 nights off, I could find myself having a few pints in pubs during a weekday and then I did have quite a few long-ish chats with more mature and some younger bar staff. In such cases, you just wouldn’t use the self-serve option; I believe it would always be an option as there would always have to be bar staff present for legal and security reasons.

So in summary, as it would always be an option rather than compulsory, I think they would be a very good thing to have in pubs.


Many supermarkets have replaced some of their tills with self-service ones and in some stores there can be no option other than to use the self-service tills later in the evening. I wonder if the pub companies would find it more profitable to focus on providing self-service beer and other drinks. They still have a responsibility not to provide alcohol to people who are drunk.


Nor those under age. I’ve stayed in places with honesty bars. Perhaps that is the next stage (monitored by CCTV of course 🙁 ). What are all these ex bar staff going to do – along with the ex checkout ladies (and laddies)? Why do we pursue so many developments that put people out of work? Are we afraid of employing people? (some might say the labour laws might have this consequence).

Dougllas Crook says:
15 October 2017

I can’t see you being able to pick up a glass to fill. It will have to be disposable plastic. No, thanks!

Wiggers says:
15 October 2017

As a member of CAMRA & a volunteer at beer festivals, I am repeatedly told that to serve someone who is suspected to be drunk and/or under age, I am personally responsible & liable to be be prosecuted, etc.
Who is responsible in the these circumstances in the above scenario?


I suggest that you contact CAMRA and ask for written advice. Younger people should carry a card showing their age and decisions about whether or not to serve someone who seems intoxicated can be referred to the duty manager or their delegate. I cannot find information online, but it may only be available to members.


This site might help: Vhttps://www.gov.uk/government/collections/alcohol-licensing-guidance and https://www.gov.uk/guidance/alcohol-licensing#temporary-events

As far as I can see, a designated person will hold the licence and be responsible for the sale of alcohol.

Nadine says:
17 October 2017

I think this is a step backwards for the pub. I would prefer to see us move towards the option of table service like