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iPourIt self-serve tap system in use. Photo courtesy of iPourIt Inc.

Washington’s first “self-serve” taproom to open in Ferndale

Self-serve beer and wine taps have become commonplace in taprooms in other states during the past few years and they are going to make their first Washington State appearance in Ferndale according to the co-owners of the recently announced DownTime Taps.

Tomas Aminnie and Chay Tan are confident a new Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board rule will be in place in time when their taproom opens during the latter half of June.

Current Washington State law prohibits self-service beer taps at bars and clubs. But, much like the changes in law that allowed customer-provided growlers of beer to be filled and taken home from licensed businesses, that law is in the process of being changed and Aminnie and Tan are confident it will be in place by June 2nd.

According the current version of the proposed new section to the Washington Administrative Code, self-dispensing wine machines and self-service beer taps will be legal for on-premises consumption.

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Tan said customers to DownTime Taps will provide the server photo ID and a credit card. Each customer will then be provided an electronic radio-frequency identification (RFID) bracelet.

Equipped with the RFID bracelet, customers will then be able to choose from 32 separate taps of beer, cider and wine. Each tap will have an information screen to help with the decision-making process. Once a choice has been made, the customer needs to tap their bracelet on a small panel by the tap. This will enable dispensing the from that tap in whatever quantity desired (within limits set – see below) and they will be charged per ounce. The display screen will show amount poured information (see photos below).

The requirements for providing self-serving beer and wine taps are expected to include:

  • The liquor licensee must maintain adequate staff to monitor for potential over service/consumption
  • An employee must first check the customer’s ID and check for signs of intoxication
  • A service card (or wrist band) enabling the customer to self-dispense must be purchased from an employee
  • Control of the total amount dispensed to a service card and individual serving sizes
  • No more than two cards may be purchased by any one customer at any time
  • Employees must have the ability to deactivate the system both at the table and remotely, allowing employees to control the amount of beer dispensed at all times.

Tan said their tap system provider, iPourIt, recently released customer behavior collected from their systems in place with over 2,000 taps. Data showed their average customer was a 32-year-old who visited the taps 4.6 times per visit and poured 5.5 ounces each time.

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Tan compared a self-service taproom to the Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt’s self-serve business model where customers dispense as much or as little of the frozen yogurt and toppings they want paying based on weight of the sum of their choices. Tan said, “This is like Menchie’s for adults.”

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