64 Taphouse & Growler Station owners Lorraine Lyons and Rod Steward are pictured behind the bar of their business, which opened in early May. Beer availability is displayed via DigitalPour technology and the taster trays are made from reclaimed wood, like much of the shop’s decor. Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
By Kirby Neumann-Rea
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Choose your pour ahead of time, or announce it to the world. 64 Taphouse & Growler Station in Hood River lets you anticipate and share what you’re drinking via social media.
Lorraine Lyons and Rod Steward opened 64 in early May at 110 Third St. in the heart of downtown. The new business is open 11:30 a.m. until a “to-be-determined” closing time, seven days a week.
Lyons and Steward installed a DigitalPour system, which registers and tracks each keg in real time, subtracts the number of ounces drawn with each sale, and once the given beer gets low, alerts both barkeep and customer.
“It shows what’s tapping and what is about to blow,” Steward said.
Customers can also log in via Twitter or smartphone apps such as Untappd, see what’s available and post photos and comments on pours enjoyed, which are visible on the digital tap board for all to see. The notification stays up for a day or so.
The technology is familiar at some Portland taprooms, but it’s a first for Hood River.
Steward said, “When I sell a beer in the register it will update it, and with our Monday-to-Friday 4-6 happy hour, it automatically adjusts all the prices.” He can also program it to let customers know what’s tapping in the days to come.
The 30 taps at 64 include a variety of Northwest ales, a nitro and a regular selection of four or more ciders. Enjoy a pint in or take it to go; growler fills are mostly in the $11-12 range, depending on the selection. Glass growlers, both 32- and 64-ounce containers, are available for $4 and $6, respectively. The business also sells other beer-related gear, including T-shirts and pint glasses.
64 is centrally situated among downtown breweries and taprooms, but it is the first full-scale growler station in this beer-centric burg. “We’re dedicated to the concept. You can come in and sit down at a table or pull up to a loading zone, stop, come in and get out,” Lyons said. Amenities include sidewalk, bar and mezzanine seating that is secluded while offering a top-down view of the store overlooking the massive cooler.
Lyons, an insurance consultant, and Steward, a drummer and former IT guy, bring their love of craft beer to the shop they hope will be “a comfortable community spot.” Li ve music is planned and snacks are available. However, take-in food from downtown restaurants and food trucks is encouraged.
64 Taphouse & Growler Station
[a] 110 3rd St., Hood River
Eric Sterling, Andy Steinman and Lisa Marcus are the owners of DigitalPour, a digital beer board now installed in dozens of Oregon breweries, bars and this one, at Growlers Hawthorne in Portland.
Photo by Emma Browne
By Gail Oberst
You might mourn the old chalkboard that lists what’s on tap at your favorite bar, but not for long. Some taphouses and brewpubs are replacing the dusty bar feature with digital beer boards -- banks of flat screens that can enlighten you on everything from the color of the beer to the latest tweet about it.
DigitalPour – an Oregon company whose owners developed the software in 2011 – is not the only company providing these services. Although the San Diego-based TapHunter and other companies have some boards in Oregon, homegrown DigitalPour is elbowing its way onto the walls of your Oregon watering hole. Since the company opened, it has placed DigitalPour software in 120 locations – most in Oregon, but many across the U.S. and internationally.
Easy Beer Education
You don’t have to be a beer geek to appreciate the information DigitalPour’s software provides. Let’s say you are in the mood for a porter you haven’t tried before. On the screen, you would look for a dark brown glass or growler icon, read the info next to see if it’s a porter, and then ask for a taste to see if you like it. Viola! Pour power. Some drinkers don’t need much more than that little bit of help. Some digital feeds – especially those at brewery-based pubs – actually look like a chalkboard, listing just the beer, the international bittering units (IBUs) and the alcohol by volume (ABV) for visitors.
Want more? Of course you do. In addition to the basics listed above, your taphouse feed might include the name of the beer and brewery, the cost per unit, whether it’s on nitro or CO2, where it was brewed, and when the keg was tapped. If you need further info, you might watch the Twitter, Foursquare and Untappd feeds roll across the board as people check into the brew you are thinking of buying. Don’t want to stand around your local beer purveyor before you make your decision? Some of bars and growler filling station subscribers put their DigitalPour feeds right on their websites, including access to a mobile application.
Better Business Beer
Jim Hillman, owner of the relatively new 40-tap Growlers Hawthorne in Portland, said this sort of system was a logical choice for him. “First of all, we’re two Portland start-ups,” Hillman said. Second: “It’s easy to use.” Hillman can easily update his own tap information, which appears on the board, but his employees are also trained to do it as well. The software not only tells customers what’s on tap, but also inventories the back room – from beer levels in the kegs to suggesting price per pint or growler depending on mark-up rates. “I’m awestruck,” Hillman said. Analytics included in the software can track beer performance with up-to-the-minute profit reports on individual beers, breweries, styles and other trends.
Software subscriptions start at $99 per month with a $298 basic set-up fee. The downloadable software does not include the monitors, which are simply flat screen televisions hard-wired to a computer – all standard equipment that business owners can purchase on their own. Depending on the owner’s desires, equipment might cost around $1,800 for a bank of three monitors.
About the Owners
Lisa Marcus, CEO, Andy Steinman, COO, and Eric Sterling, CTO, at first glance, are unlikely partners. But as with all entrepreneurs, serendipity had a lot to do with their partnership. Lisa and Eric, for example, met on a dating website. “We quickly realized we were better at doing business together,” Lisa laughed. They both put some energy into WineSlingr software, a wine-based version of DigitalPour, but it was Eric’s favorite pub, Bailey’s, in Portland, that turned their attention to beer. Eric, a software developer who inherited the innovation bug from his dad, Jeff, was having a beer at Bailey’s, staring up at the pub’s hand-scribbled listings on the mirror, when the thought struck him. He could put the beer list on a television screen.
“I’d intended to put a one-off up for Bailey’s and that would be that,” Eric said. Instead, he took the idea to Lisa, who ran with it.
Andy Steinman, the company’s Chief Operations Officer, came into the business through Lisa’s wine and restaurant connections at Little Bird, a sister restaurant to LePigeon, and Walter Scott Wines. Steinman brings financial and business management experience to the mix. “This will always be a dynamic business,” Steinman said. Customers will decide the future of the business.
“I think it’s gonna get really weird,” said Lisa. New technology will be incorporated into the software. The bartender may be able to use his phone as a remote control, or expanding on menu items to answer customer questions.
By Gail Oberst
Enquiring minds (and tongues!) want to know what gadgets are in place to keep Oregon beers fresh and up-to-date. Aaron Brussat of The Bier Stein answered a few questions about LED (light- emitting diode) lights used in their business. This simple technology helped this Eugene bar/growler-fill station/restaurant/bottle shop to be the West’s favorite bar in a recent reader poll conducted by the Brewers Association.
OBG: How do you use LED lights in storage, or are they throughout your business?
Brussat: We have LED lighting throughout the building, but most importantly, LEDs light our beer cooler where we have individual bottles for sale.
OBG: What is the benefit of those lights?
Brussat: LED lights do not emit UV light. UV light reacts with hop compounds (isohumulones) in beer and creates mercaptan (methanethiol), which smells like skunk, and is in fact the same chemical that skunks use to deliver their stinky punch. While brown glass does effectively block around 88% of UV light and most of our bottles are brown glass, we took the most preventative step to ensure no beer would be skunked.
Additionally, LED lights use about 50% less energy than fluorescent or CFL bulbs, which made it an economical and environmental move for The Bier Stein’s large new space.
OBG: What standards are you using for cold storage and date codes?
Brussat: As soon as beer enters our building, it is brought into a 17-by-30-foot walk-in cooler (lit with LEDs). Every case and keg is checked for a date. We even have a list of date codes to decipher some of the more cryptic codes (why breweries choose to do this is beyond me; beer is a food product and should be labeled with a clear date of packaging, if not a best-by date that accurately reflects its flavor shelf life). Beer without date codes (again, why a brewery would do itself and its customers this disservice is beyond me) is generally given 90 days. Exceptions are made for stronger, darker, and mixed fermentation (sour/wild) beers. All beer (with the exception of a few gift packs and large bottles) is kept cold until it is purchased.
Our inventory system lets us put an expiration date on items, so we calculate how many days a beer has left, input that, and do regular checks. If a beer is still around a week or so before it goes out of code, we put it on sale.
OBG: What would your customers notice as a result?
Brussat: We are especially attentive to hoppy beers; hop aroma and flavor degrade at a rapid rate, so that even three months after a beer is bottled, the hop aroma will be significantly reduced. We do not accept IPA that is over 90 days old — that is our standard — because we want our customers to have the satisfaction of drinking a beer the way the brewer intended.
Regarding other beer styles, cold storage helps prevent oxidation, which dulls beer flavor and makes it taste like cardboard. And for some odd reason, people like their beverages cold!
OBG: When you moved into your place last year, what new technology did you install and why?
Brussat: A couple of upgrades were necessary. Our DigitalPour draft list replaced hand-written boards; with the larger space, twice as many beers, and, to be frank, variable penmanship skills, we needed a more dynamic system that would be easier to read from over 10 feet away. The DigitalPour system allows us and our customers to see how much is left in a keg; those who don’t want to miss out on that barrel-aged imperial stout don’t have to guess when it will kick, and we keep an accurate inventory of stock.
Another technological upgrade lies in our draft system hardware. We use a long-draw system; beer travels between 40 and 70 feet to reach the tap. The lines are chilled with glycol until they reach the draught towers. We also installed individual pressure regulators for each keg, as well as foam-on-beer (FOB) detectors. A FOB is a small chamber with a plunger that drops and stops gas from entering the main beer line when a keg is empty. Empty space in beer line means that the beer following it will foam as CO2 escapes solution, which creates a lot of waste in a system as long as ours. FOBs prevent a lot of beer from going down the drain.
OBG Blog Archives
Welcome to our archive pages! Read stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler from June 2012 to January 2018. For newer stories, please visit our new website at: