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Wall of Beer Lets Patrons Draw Their Drinks

An RFID-enabled system allows the Cheeky restaurant to provide a pour-your-own-beer service, while monitoring and controlling the amount that customers consume.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 28, 2011While customers at Cheeky, a Latino restaurant in Georgia, await a dining table, beer enthusiasts among them can help themselves to the draft of their choice, in the amount that they choose. If they would like to sample a few ounces of a specific brew, they need only use an RFID-enabled card to serve their own drinks, and then pay for the exact amount consumed.

The beer-management system, known as DraftMagik, manages what the restaurant calls the "Wall of Beer," and enables patrons to pour their own glass of beer, while shutting off for customers who have reached a preset limit. The solution's components include RFID-enabled customer cards, RFID readers embedded in a wall-mounted fixture that includes beer taps, framed Apple iPods that display information regarding each beer, and software to manage the delivery and measurement of draft beer that restaurant patrons consume. DraftServ Technologies, a provider of draft-beer management and control solutions, designed the DraftMagik system.

To pour themselves beer, Cheeky's patrons can present an EPC Gen 2 RFID card to an Impinj reader antenna mounted on the wall.

During a 2007 trip to the Spanish city of Madrid, Cheeky's owner, Jose Hevia, visited a restaurant with pour-your-own-beer tables. The system that Hevia observed did not utilize radio frequency identification, nor was it designed and installed by DraftServ. But later, upon returning to the United States, he asked DraftServ to develop a similar solution for his own restaurant, located in Suwannee, Ga.

Like the system in Madrid, the solution developed by DraftServ also did not employ RFID. Instead, patrons provide their credit-card account and proof of age to a restaurant employee, after which the worker programs the DraftServ software to allow a maximum amount of ounces to be poured at that table (based on the number of patrons seated there). The customers in that party can then pour their own glasses of beer from a single tap installed at their assigned table, while DraftServ flow meters on the keg taps measure the amount being dispensed. When finished, a patron presses a button on an iPod mounted at the table, which automatically shuts down valves connected to the flow meter on that table's tap. The software then totals the amount due, based on the volume of beer consumed, and the staff provides the patron with his or her bill.

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