Pour Your Own Beer: A Gimmick That Works...At Least in Tampa
Craft-beer bar chains are nothing new. As a matter of fact, they might be the most beloved chains of all. Relatively small in size, like local fave Flying Saucer, they offer a consistent quality par excellence. When I learned from my brother-in-law in Florida that a craft-beer restaurant-bar chain, The Pub, had recently landed in Tampa, Florida, one where customers are treated to a pour your own beer (PYOB) experience, I was, needless to say, a wee bit excited.
So, off we went to Tampa for the holidays, a city that has slowly been eking out a name for itself in the beer world. 2009 Great American Beer Festival gold-medal winner (wood- and barrel-aged beer) Cigar City Brewing is chief among the local suds operations that have caught the eye of beer geeks and writers, raising the profile of the Tampa Bay area. I wasn't surprised then, when I saw Cigar City's peach-apricot on cask at the main bar of The Pub, Tampa. The dark main bar, on the ground floor, is ringed by a dining room choked with large tables packed tight with customers imbibing the European (heavy on the Commonwealth selections) beer. The helter-skelter crowd was rambunctious during trivia night, making it a relief when a table in the main attraction upstairs was open for us.
The second floor is the location of the PYOB wall. The novelty that brings out local beer enthusiasts. For 34¢ per oz. (vs. 26¢), customers have the option to select a glass size (from taster to imperial pint) and drink any of the 20 rotating beers -- as long as no more than 40 oz. is consumed. To participate in this gimmick, customers must press a card against the wood framing an iPad screen above the desired tap. Once the system recognizes the cardholder's identity, the drinker has 20 seconds to pour the beer.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.