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Food & Drink

Pour Taproom Opens in Santa Cruz

Be your own bartender at high-tech new beer spot

Pour Taproom co-owner Chris Reno (foreground) and his business partner Nate Tomforde. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER

Yogurtland built an empire out of the simple fact that people want to serve themselves exactly what they want. So when is a bar going to apply that model to beer? How about now?

Pour Taproom, which opens on Saturday, May 21, in Santa Cruz, will do exactly that. Pour will have 60-plus beers and eight wines on tap (and craft root beer for kids). Plus, they’ll be serving excellent food to go with them. GT spoke with co-owner/operator Christopher Jonathan Reno, who explained the seemingly sci-fi process and the best way to enjoy self-service beer.

Why would someone want to pour their own drinks?

CHRISTOPHER JONATHAN RENO: Everyone that goes to a bar has fantasized about pouring their own beers. I have. It’s not just filling up a whole glass. It’s pour as much as you like, as little as you like. If you want to just grab a couple drops, you can. If you’re absolutely repulsed by a beer, you don’t have to sit there and keep drinking it. The whole thing is predicated on tasting, just testing quality over slamming quantity. You get a chance to try a bunch of beers you wouldn’t normally be able to sample in a small scale.

Should people mix flavors like they do at 7-11 with their sodas?

I’ve done that before, and it’s a blast, where you can throw several different flavors in. I’d be interested in seeing what an Old Rasputin with a dash of Framboise [wild raspberry Belgian beer] would taste like. That would be really fun. It lets you do things you can’t do at a traditional bar.

How does the whole process work?

Once you walk in, you hand over your vitals. What your ID does is it allows us to scan the bracelet. Once you have that on you, it basically gives you access to be able to taste 32 ounces. Once it hits that 32-ounce limit, you come check back in. It’s a free-range tasting thing where you don’t have people running around the hall drinking three gallons of beer. Once you have your bracelet, you go up to the wall. Each beverage has a screen above it with the beer, the style, the specs, and the taste profile. There’s a little Pour Taproom logo burned in on the screen frame. That activates the tap handle. It logs how many ounces you’ve poured, of which beer. At the end of the evening it’ll show exactly everything you’ve had to drink.

That’s way more sci-fi than I imagined.

Once the novelty of the screens wears off, you kind of forget about the whole tech aspect of it and you’re left with the beers. It allows the traditional bartender to be out on the floor, helping people out. It’s not like I’m getting rid of bartenders. I’m moving them. I don’t think it’s going to eclipse the traditional bar, and I don’t think it’s getting rid of the bartender.


Pour Taproom is at 110 Cooper St., Santa Cruz. 566-4948.

Contributor at Good Times |

Aaron is a hard-working freelance writer with a focus on music, art, food, culture and travel. In addition to Good Times, he's a regular contributor to Sacramento News & Review, VIA Magazine and Playboy. When he's not working, he's either backpacking, arguing about music or working on his book about ska. One thing's for sure—he knows more about ska than you.

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