Customers at bars featuring the self-service alcohol system PourMyBeer will soon have access to beer descriptions and ratings through the social drinking app Untappd, the two companies announced in a release Thursday. The partnership also gives PourMyBeer clients access to Untappd for Business, which helps bar owners keep their tap lists current for existing and potential customers.
“Before our connection to the Untappd Business API, it was taking our customers about ten times longer to manage their tap lists. Now, all of our customers can update their Untappd lists and see them flow to our screens in real-time,” PourMyBeer founder and CEO Josh Goodman said in the release.
The Chicago-based pour-your-own-booze company builds “tap walls” or tables, from which customers pour the beer, wine, cider, cocktail or even kombucha of their choice and pay by the ounce with a store card connected to their credit card. The technology has been adopted by more than 200 bars in the U.S., Europe, South America and Southeast Asia. Untappd connects beer drinkers through a check-in system similar to Foursquare, lets users view current tap lists at participating bar, track what they’ve tasted and chat with friends.
Pour-your-own-beer (PYOB) concepts might seem like a gimmick that won’t stick, but the technology has already permeated bars, hotels, casinos and fast casual chains. In January, a Whole Foods 365 opened in Brooklyn with a PYOB system selling beer, wine and cider. The Milwaukee airport now sports a similar concept, and The Quad casino in Las Vegas also features a few pour-your-own taps.
While standalone PYOB bars have attracted media attention and the eyes of first-time consumers, the technology isn't cheap — a PourMyBeer tap table starts at $4,000 and tap walls usually cap out around $16,000. But this system also give bar owners unprecedented access to data, as it tracks every ounce poured by customers, and could draw larger crowds.
Nate Tomforde, co-founder of Pour Taproom — a bar that uses iPourIt's PYOB system — told Mic that compared to a traditional bar, these kind of establishments reach three times the amount of people. The technology gives consumers increased flexibility, allowing them to experiment with more drink varieties for a lower cost than traditional ordering. "A customer can try eight different beers, drink the equivalent of two bottles, and spend about $10," Tomforde told Mic of iPourit's system.
iPourIt runs more than half of the self-serve beers in the U.S. — 63% according to its website. Outside of independent restaurants and bars, the Southern California-based company also works with zpizza and PizzaRev. PourMyBeer, however, has landed deals with Whole Foods, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Buffalo Wild Wings, among others.
Through its partnership with Untappd, which millions of beer lovers already use, the company gains an even stronger advantage in this budding segment. Untappd appears to be one of the leading beer apps, with 8 million downloads and more than 1 million beers in its robust database. Similar apps include Beer Menus, Beer Pad and Beer Judge, but they don’t incorporate a social element, which has likely helped Untappd reach the top of the list. The 8-year-old app added a direct messaging feature in August, allowing users to more closely interact with fellow beer drinkers, akin to Instagram and Facebook’s suggested friends and text capabilities — and likely playing into on-demand dating app culture in bars.
Together, the app and the PYOB platform could solve an information gap in PourMyBeer's software. Under the company's current model, client bars must manually upload beer descriptions into the PourMyBeer system and update their tap lists online. The app's Untappd for Business service allows bar owners to update their Untappd beer lists on the app, which automatically populate in the digital screens above the taps.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Pour Taproom uses PourMyBeer technology. The company uses iPourIt's PYOB system.