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New Michigan Liquor Law Paves the Way for Pour Your Own Beer Bars

Brace for the self-serve tap

The Dakota Inn.
Michelle and Chris Gerard
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

For most Michiganders self-serve booze is a translation for drinking at home, but that’s likely to change thanks to updated regulations approved by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission last month. MLive reports that bars, restaurants, and hotels will now have the ability to sell beer and wine from self-serve tabletop taps.

Under the new rules, customers of legal drinking age would present their ID to an employee at the bar and then select and pour their own drinks. Patrons are limited to 96 ounces or 6 pints per order. Liquor may not be dispensed from the machines.

Pour-your-own drink bars are already starting to take hold in other parts of the country, with some business owners arguing that the format offers customers a more flexible drinking experience and while reducing labor costs and waste from spilled or over-poured drinks.

Self-serve taps arrived in time for baseball season at Target Field in Minnesota in 2014 and last November the San Diego area welcomed its third tabletop dispenser bar concept. Closer to home, Chicago’s first dedicated pour-your-own bar Tapster is expected to land this year in Wicker Park featuring a “tapwall” and a separate bar staffed by living, breathing bartenders preparing cocktails and shots. Detroit’s own TAP at the MGM Grand was originally slated to be the first spot in Michigan to offer self-serve booze, but those plans were nixed due to state regulations.

Despite the pros, when the proposal to allow self-serve alcohol was initially introduced it was met with some criticism from substance abuse prevention groups. They argued that the stations might promote excessive drinking and underaged drinking.

Josh Goodman, the founder and CEO of Pour My Beer, sells tabletop dispensers and tells MLive he expects to see several orders from Michigan businesses in the first quarter of 2017.

Tabletop Beer Dispensers on Tap for Michigan Bars, Restaurants and Hotels [MLive]

Self-Serve Beer, Wine on Tap in Michigan? [Detroit News]

All Booze News Coverage [ED]