“People can come here and sample all the cool new stuff in one place,” says Atlanta Pour Taproom owner Ray Ballester, shown at the host stand. CONTRIBUTED BY LAUREN VEREEN / SALUT MEDIA
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

Beer Town: Serve yourself from 80-plus taps at Pour Taproom on the Beltline

Set to open in late April on the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail, Pour Taproom neatly defines its concept with the phrase “Pay by the Ounce, Not by the Glass.”

Located next door to Nina & Rafi at SPX Alley, the space is designed to allow guests to sample from 80-plus self-serve taps featuring local and seasonal beers from a potpourri of craft breweries, plus other beverages from wineries and cideries.

Founded by Nate Tomforde, the first Pour Taproom opened in West Asheville, North Carolina, in 2014 with the mission to “support and showcase local craft beer.” Now there are eight more locations, mostly in the Southeast.

Recently, Atlanta Pour Taproom owner Ray Ballester, who is a retired Marine, took me on a tour of the build-out, and explained that technology is the key to the process and success of the business.

It starts with the staff greeting guests, checking IDs and taking a form of payment. Then you’re given a card with an individual code and a Pour pint glass, plus a run-through of the self-serve system, which is arranged by style sections, such as lagers, IPAs and sours.

You can toast with specially made Pour Taproom glassware. CONTRIBUTED BY LAUREN VEREEN / SALUT MEDIA
Photo: For the AJC

From there, you’re on your own, and can drink by the ounce in increments up to two pints before checking in with a staff member again. In keeping with the tech-savvy Taproom theme, tablets connected to the Untappd networking service display tasting notes and ratings for each beer.

“I went to the Charlotte location and spent some time training with the folks there,” Ballester said. “They have about 117 taps there, and they rotate through the entire cooler in about two weeks. So you, as a customer, can have a different experience virtually any time you come in.

“We are the ninth location, and every one is a bit different. What’s unique for us is the relationship we have with Nina & Rafi next door. Conveniently enough, in the architectural design, their kitchen is behind the wall at the back of our space. So we built a little roll-up door, which gives us access and lets them expo pizza and other food items to serve to our guests.”

The open layout includes a pair of accordion-style doors that will open to a sidewalk patio and the Beltline beyond. There’s seating at custom 12-foot oak and steel bar tables designed by Summit Design Co. And other work-play amenities include built-in charging stations, a giant 130-inch projector screen, six TVs, and games like giant Scrabble.

With a variety of seating, built-in charging stations, TVs and games, Pour Taproom is a place to hang out and enjoy the range of beers. CONTRIBUTED BY LAUREN VEREEN / SALUT MEDIA
Photo: For the AJC

There’s also room for a small kitchen in back that will offer a small plate menu and can be used for catering events.

“We’ll be doing a small menu of light items that will basically complement what Nina & Rafi is offering,” Ballester said, “but I see this being mostly pizza and beer here.

“With the changes in the beer laws here in Georgia, and all the breweries that are popping up around us in Atlanta, we actually feel that helps our concept out a lot,” Ballester said. “People can come here and sample all the cool new stuff in one place. So we’re excited about that. And I’m excited to be here.”

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