back to article RFID drives the self-service pub

The Cheeky bar, in Georgia USA, now has a self-service bar known as the "wall of beer" where patrons can help themselves to a drink with the wave of a card. The card is simply an RFID tag which identifies the buyer, but the system measures the amount of alcohol poured as well as requiring each drinker to prove their sobriety …


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  1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

    The idea has been seen before..

    Remember the drink dispensers in the opening scenes of 'A Clockwork Orange'?

    They'd be very appropriate for serving up American beer.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Queuing between customers this time

      Once you tap your RFID card once,

      1. Can you pour more than once from the same tap? Say, you're airing/slow-drawing a Guiness or something?

      2. Can you pour a little bit from one tap, for example a sample, then poor a larger glass from your a main drink?

      3. Can you pour from more than one tap at the same time - say someone is trying to help you collect some drinks?

      4. Can someone force themself into the queue or otherwise reset the system by tapping their RFID card while you are pouring?

      5. What if someone bumps a tap accidentally on your credit?

      6. What if you're at the bottom of a barrel and mainly receive suds as flow?

      This system sounds like it would be a rife with issues in a typical English pub of end-of-day, testosterone-heavy, thirsty strangers! At least with bar staff, you either do as they say and accept what they give you or you don't get served ...

  2. K. Adams

    "... prove their sobriety to the barman every 64 ounces (three pints or so)."

    Just for my edification: is an Imperial alcohol pint different from a Standard pint?

    Over here, in the US, a (US Standard) pint is 16 ounces, with **four** pints equal to 64 ounces.

    Also, is "proving sobriety to the barman" handled automatically, via breathalyzer, or do you have to do a heel-toe-walk for the guy behind the counter?

    1. King Edward I

      Google says:

      1 US pint = 0.83267384 Imperial pints

    2. Ragarath

      Americans using the same names for different measures

      As usual things are a little messed up with our colonial relatives.

      Imperial Pint = 20 Imperial Fluid Ounces.

      US Pint = 16 US Fluid Ounces.

      A US fluid ounce is slightly more than an Imperial fluid ounce as demonstrated by my babies Avent milk bottle.

      But as per Wikipedia measuring in a more sane medium:

      Imperial = 568 mL

      US = 473 mL

      If the Wiki is correct ;-)

      1. John Sturdy


        So how large are US millilitres?

      2. Eddy Ito


        "As usual things are a little messed up with our colonial relatives."

        Yes but those of us on this side of the pond don't much care to muck about in changing units quite as often as our Imperial measure brethren. Besides everything was fine until some bean counter in London decided to change the units in 1824, 1963 and 1985. Hopefully you folks won't be needing to make like Apple and change everything, again.

        Now if I could only convince the people over here that liters aren't the tool of the devil and make mine a proper fifth.

    3. Fuzz

      Imperial Pint

      Imperial pint is 20 ounces so 64 is just over 3 pints in the UK.

    4. Chris 244

      Here at the Register

      "The base unit of volume shall be the EU standard (5cm radius) grapefruit."

      64 US fluid ounces = 3.61gf

  3. yoinkster

    good idea but

    I like the sound of this, as a short, ugly, scruffy looking old (well old in my book anyway) man I struggle to get the attention of the bartenders. For some unknown reason the blonde with her boobs flopped out on the bar gets served first ...

    But, there's one thing I'd like clarified first. Does the cost of my pint go down considering the bar doesn't have to employ people any more? My bank and CCard provider want me to go paperless to "save the world" but refuse to reward me for saving them money (not having to print and post my statements etc). No doubt though prices will go up "to cover the cost of the equipment" and then never go down once the equipment is covered ...

  4. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    When is a title not a title?

    "Pulling a pint of proper beer is, of course, more complicated. British beer doesn't lend itself to electronic measuring or pumping"

    Actually, I could see an electronically measured hand-pump system being more simple to implement.

    AFAIK most hand pumps draw 1/3 or 1/2 a pint per "pull". My own at home does half a pint, perfect for me considering it's just a short walk to the kitchen for a top up and I end up with less chance of wasting my delicious homebrew.

    Therefore to measure the quantity, you just count the number of pulls. For a more accurate system, you could count the displacement, which should be proportional to the quantity dispensed. Much more simple than measuring lager flowing through a pipe (and more tasty).

  5. Cameron Colley

    Just what we need in a recession.

    Less jobs. Call me a commie but all this automated self-serve stuff is just pushing more people onto the dole, doesn't save the consumer any money (ever notice how Tesco self-serve doesn't get you a discount) and ultimately means more taxes to pay to more unemployed. So, unless you've shares in a company moving to self-service you will loose out.

    Also pubs work well with real people as staff, since they can judge the age, sobriety and demeanor of the customer far better than an automatic pump. Plus, I'd much rather gaze at a pretty bar maid whilst waiting to be served than a bunch of people at a "beer wall".

  6. The Envoy


    And cheers again!

    (I see that the Reg comments section is limited to one pint per post.)

  7. deshepherd


    > Imperial Pint = 20 Imperial Fluid Ounces.

    > US Pint = 16 US Fluid Ounces.

    And then there's the additional measure found in US bars (especially those frequented by ex-pats): "English pint" = 20 US Fluid Ounces

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Whilst you make a good point about the fuel self-service, although even then most are not 'pay at the pump'. So I think one can take these things too far. Personally I avoid those stores which value me so little they can't even be bothered to serve me at the till. I can see a niche for self serve beer, for those who love the plastic palace bar style; but I suspect many will feel it ruins the experience of the traditional pub, and shows no respect for the customer.

  9. M7S

    It's an offence.... serve someone who is or appear to be drunk, in a public house.

    How will they "police" that one then, and if the machine did dispense stuff to a sozzled punter, who would be liable?

    Technically the licencee (who must be on the premises) would cop it, but will the programmers start having their collars felt for "aiding and abetting" in some way?

  10. John Sturdy

    What's the picture got to do with beer?

    I fail to see the relevance of the picture to serving beer. But perhaps the other-fluids serving equipment could be adapted.

  11. Anonymous IV
    Thumb Up

    Massive unemployment to be expected among antipodeans, then

    The post is required, and must contain letters.

    (Presumably this is an advert for Royal Mail?)

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge


      What's any of this got to do with Australia?

      1. Mark 65


        Are you trolling or really that unenlightened?

      2. Alan Newbury

        Aussie Backpackers

        Go to a London pub and see who's behind the bar...

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Snapper


    What's to stop the designated driver going to get the drinks and taking them back to the table full of sozzled and increasingly aggressive mates.

    What's to stop aggro at the wall by someone shoving another person aside and filling their glass after the card has been waved.

    When you see the slowness of most people putting petrol in their cars, do you want to be five-deep in a queue with them?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Couldn't the "hand pump" effect

    be done with hydraulics?

  15. druck Silver badge


    If you pull your own pint, not only will you be charged for any you spill, but the pub still gets to retain the 'spillage' reduction in alcohol duty. With one they pull, you still get a pint, no matter how much they poor down the drain in the process.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Computer goes down.

    Drunken mob turns into angry drunken mob.

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