By Rachel Simons
Photo and image courtesy of First Draft.
Tap rooms have long been a place to gather, eat, and drink, but it’s not just the atmosphere and quality of brews that owners care about anymore, it’s also the customizable experience. Opening this summer in the River North Art District of Denver, First Draft will be a unique tap room and eatery that will let patrons pour their own drafts and pay by the ounce.
Teaming up with iPourIt, a company specializing in self-serve tap systems, First Draft will have 40 digitally connected taps (34 for craft beer, four for wine, and two for craft cider), making it the biggest self-serving beer provider in all of Colorado.
“We looked at the Denver [culinary] landscape and obviously everyone wants to start their own brewery or something like that,” explains owner and general manager Mark Slattery. “Instead, we decided to go in a little bit of a different route.”
The system will work in a way that allows patrons to give their ID and either a credit card or cash to a host desk by the front of the establishment. Once their information is collected, the individual will be given a First Draft card which can either be used like a credit card or pre-paid gift card with a certain amount of cash attached to it. All the cards can be swiped at the card readers above the taps and the patrons can then pour their beer while each tap’s digital screen tells them how much they’ve poured and what it will cost.
Since First Draft’s payment system charges by the ounce, each tap contains a flow meter that tracks the amount of liquid poured up to a tenth of an ounce and lets the tap know to automatically shut off after 16 ounces have been poured, the size of First Draft’s largest glass.
“We are going to make sure that we not only have a great selection of breweries but also a diverse list of beer styles so that people can come in and find a beer that they like but also maybe open themselves up to trying something new,” comments Slattery. “With a pay by the ounce system you can get a couple ounces here and there and not have to buy a full pint.”
Besides their self-serve beer rig, First Draft will also have a full service kitchen cooking up small, but shareable plates of what Slattery categorizes as “upgraded bar food.” This includes fried dishes, various types of gourmet sliders, and other such fare. Patrons will be notified what particular beer, wine, or cider pairs well with each dish and will be highly encouraged to experiment a little and figure out which pairing of food and draft they like best.
First Draft will feature an entire second floor mezzanine and an outdoor patio complete with a fire pit, and Slattery believes that it will be a space conducive to large groups of friends who will want to hang out, eat some food, and drink hand crafted beer not just from local Denver and Colorado breweries, but from other beer makers all across the United States.
The interior design of the tap room and other preparations for a grand opening are still underway, but Slattery hopes that if everything goes according to plan, First Draft will be ready to open sometime in June. First Draft will be located at 1309 26th Street in the River North Art District of Denver, Colorado.