/ 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?

Comments
Member

I think I’d miss the interaction with the barmaid. Part of the pleasure of going to a pub is the social atmosphere.

I do wonder why we complain about university costs hitting impecunious students hard, and yet their beer consumption seems to be a thriving industry.

I’ve pulled pints and with modern beer dispensers for the current fizzy beer-flavoured drinks I see no real problem. I’m not normally a beer drinker, but when I do I go for naturally brewed real ale. Our local brewery sells this in boxes fitted with a simple tap; nothing to pull there.

Member

Yes, I agree Malcolm. I would miss the social aspects. My friends always have a habit of talking to bouncer and barmen. I used to find it annoying – I’d just want to sit down, but now I like it, especially when it means we get served quickly!

Also, I would be rubbish at pouring a pint – I think I’d have to leave it to the professionals.

Member

I have not heard of the term ‘beer wall’ before but we have been been hearing about self-service beer for years. This is from 2012: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-16613244/pub-installs-customer-operated-beer-dispenser

I’m not interested in keg beer or lager and have walked out of pubs that don’t have real ale. I used to pull my own pints when staying in a friend’s pub. It’s much easier if you have proper line glasses, so you can have a pint of liquid plus the head.

Member

Self-service soft drinks dispensers have been a feature of family restaurants including Pizza Hut and Toby Carvery for a while now.

They seem to be popular because you don’t have to wait for one of the few very busy staff to bring your drinks to you.

Member

Very true! I also like them because can try different flavours – my favourite at the moment is grape sprite, or strawberry coke!

Member

In the pub context, if all you’re interested in is having alcohol, the machine is a perfect solution. If you are interested in the pleasure of having a nice drink or a few, stick to the humans. One of the great things we enjoy when we visit foreign countries, especially England, is to go to the pub and try the local beer, including asking for advice and having a chat with the bar staff if they are so inclined.

However, I hope they never introduce a machine that says, time’s up, drink up and get TF out of here. Humans aren’t 100% pleasurable to interact with.

Member

Urgh no, I don’t like the idea of pulling my own pint!

I love the social side of going to the pub and talking to the staff. Especially craft beer pubs and breweries, staff tend to be really knowledgeable and tell me about new or local beers I should try out depending on my favourites (I love a good IPA if you must know)…

Member

Katie88 would love the little micropub in town. As long as you are happy to discuss beer or even show an interest, everyone is happy to chat and sometimes the person behind the bar runs a brewery not far away. Proper IPA too – none of the 3.6% ABV nonsense – and dispensed in half-pint line glasses, or in pints if you must.

There is a notice behind the little bar to say that they don’t have WiFi and customers should talk to each other.

Member

I can get behind the no-wifi rule!