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.
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?