Wednesday, January 26, 2011

By Popular Demand

Being around the beer industry brings a certain notoriety that I don't experience with, say, being in the legal industry. So, when the latest news about a beer tap that fills cups from the bottom made the rounds, my inbox was flooded with links and expressions of amusement and amazement. So, since there seems to be some interest in this novelty item, I'll link to one of the cooler videos here:

[Ed Note: sorry you'll have to click through to YouTube. Apparently the fine folks at GrinOn don't want you watching it on Madison Beer Review; they would rather get some identifiable information on you from the cookies and tracking data at YouTube]

Invented by some folks out in Washington state who go by the name GrinOn Industries (warning: video starts automatically on the link), it fills a plastic cup from the bottom up.

How, you ask, is that possible?

It is not terribly complex, and I am sure that if I tasked you with inventing such a device, you would probably come to the same conclusion these guys did: separate the bottom of the cup, place the cup over a water-tight spigot, fill, then lock the lid in place before you remove the cup. They choose to use magnets to keep the bottom of the cup in place.

If you are anything like me, the next question you ask is: why?

The most useful application is also the most obvious: sporting events. This device fills cups exceedingly quickly: 56 pints in one minute. And, according to the marketing materials, does so without any of that pesky foam. Indeed, this seems to be its biggest selling point, since foamy beer, in the stadium application, is the biggest problem with draft beer. Primarily, foam causes delays in filling and adds to waste. By filling from the bottom up, among other things, I'm sure, reduces agitation of the liquid and, hence, reduces foam. You can see this property in action when you pour beer down the side of a cup rather than straight down the middle.

Of course, head is not always a bad thing. Indeed, with many beers it is downright attractive and provides a wonderful aroma and flavor component. Moreover, there very few places where there is a need to serve 56 beers in one minute. On top of which, the appliance requires specialty glasses that you can only buy, guess where ... I'll give you a minute ... oh ... you didn't need a minute ... yeah, you can only buy the glassware (plasticware) from the company that manufactures the tap system. A surprise, I know. Yes, like printers and ink, razors and razor blades, iPods and iTunes, the big-ticket item is completely useless unless you source all of your disposable items from the same company.

Honestly, though, the contraption is interesting. It could very much take over in many non-craft markets. Heck, why not use one at, say, Chili's? There is no downside to it there, other than the specialty glassware, and if you need the fast service (so you can reduce bar staff or keep up with a busy Friday night) you have the capability.

On the other hand, the special glassware does not come in "tulip", "weiss", or "snifter" sizes, and foam is not necessarily a bad thing. So, bars like The Malt House or Brasserie V or Sugar Maple or Casanova would have no use for it. And, since I don't drink beer at ball games, and do drink beer at The Malt House or Brasserie V or Sugar Maple or Casanova, I have no use for it.


  1. IIRC, cup cost is like 50c vs 10c. When the ballpark charges $8 for a Bud Light and waste is minimized and fewer customers are turned away, I suppose it's do-able. But cup cost is a significant downside.

  2. They seem to be pushing the "magnet as souvenier" part of the cup cost pretty hardcore. Besides, if you're already paying $8, what's another $.50?


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