About a decade ago, Josh Goodman found himself at a Baltimore bar that featured a variety of craft beers prior to an Orioles baseball game, and while he was anxious to sample several options, slow service cut him off.
"It took about 25 minutes to get the first beer and about that to get the second," he said.
So instead of getting to sample three or four beers, and doubling the waiters' sales and tip, he got two.
"Amplify that by 200-250 people and the bar lost a lot of money. That was my 'ah-ha' moment I guess."
That started him thinking there must be a better way to sample beverages like beer, wine, komboucha and cocktails.
PourMyBeer was created in 2015, and last week Burt Casey opened Fountainhead Taproom in the old DeBarge Winery space on Rossville Avenue utilizing software and hardware created by Goodman's company.
The business features 60 taps with 50 serving beer and cider, two serving mead and the remaining eight will be dedicated to wine once the taproom gets its liquor license, Casey said.
Purchases are triggered by an RFID card tied to your credit or debit card you get upon entering. The cards give you access to any of the taps and you can pour as much or as little as you want, which allows you to sample several options, all without having to wait.
Casey said the room also features long tables perfect for hosting group events. These can be reserved with a deposit that is applied to your bar tab upon arrival. Prices range from 21 cents for an ounce of Pabst Blue Ribbon to $1.25 for one of the premium Belgium beers.
Only open a week, the taproom offers a few bar foods, but allows diners to bring their own or have foods like pizza delivered. Casey said he is working on an app in conjunction with nearby Taqueria Jalisco that will allow patrons to order food from there and have it delivered.
PourMyBeer has installed its technology around the country in businesses such as Whole Foods, Buffalo Wild Wings, the U.S. Air Force, Caesars Entertainment and other locations, and has a total of 5,278 taps in bars, restaurants, casinos, hotels and grocery stores.
Goodman said some businesses have as few as 10 or 15 taps, but most average about 30. Fountainhead is one of the larger installations.
Goodman said that some people seem to equate the concept with a "college keg part,y but it couldn't be further from the truth.
"People are coming here to experience as many beers as they can, often one ounce at a time."
Goodman said that he had no experience in the beverage world prior to starting the company, but he now knows quite a bit about that and beer and wine sales laws in all 50 states.
He uses a driving analogy to say that in most cases, PourMyBeer is focused on asking the states to "reduce the speed limit, not to increase it."
In most cases, the cards limit customers to the equivalent of two 16 ounce glasses of beer before you are required to renew the card for more.
"We make it fun. When you reach the limit, the screen says, 'Congratulations, you've reached the part where your card needs to be re-authorized.'"
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.