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Capital One Arena is the latest sports venue to dabble in the idea of self-serve beer.

Mike Pomranz
October 03, 2018

Who doesn’t hate waiting in line at sporting events for someone to pour you a beer? Well, at tonight’s home opener for the Washington Capitals, hockey fans will reportedly be able to wait in a line to pour their own beers.

After undergoing a $40 million refurb during the offseason, Washington, D.C.’s Capital One Arena—most notably home to the NHL’s Capitals and the NBA’s Wizards—is set to debut new “pour your own beer” stations during tonight’s first home game, according to multiple Capitals-focused blogs. A photo on the site Capitals Outsider shows a row of at least seven pouring stations, which can apparently be found near Section 420. Those who want to do their own beer pouring first have to purchase cup which is marked with a QR code; then simply scan the cup, tilt it for an even pour, and pull the handle. The site RMNB suggests that the new self-serve machines also come with the introduction of some new brews never before sold at the arena like Shotgun Betty from North Carolina’s Lonerider Brewing and DreamWeaver Wheat from Pennsylvania’s Troegs.

Though neither hockey blog mentioned whether the walls would also be open for other sporting events, it’s hard to image Wizards fans would be denied the chance to play bartender during home games as well.

Though pour your own beer stations at sporting events are still relatively novel, they’re definitely not new. In fact, though pouring your own beer at bars has actually become a bit of a trend, at sporting events, self-serve stations have apparently faced a rocky road.

DraftServ—the Georgia-based brand behind Capital One Arena’s beer stations—says it’s been showing of its self-serve technology at sporting events since the 2014 MLB All-Star Game. And early on, business appeared strong as the company rolled out a mix of mobile and fixed systems at plenty of major stadiums and sports events. But in May of last year, the SportsBusiness Journal featured a piece titled “Movement to let fans pour their own beers goes flat,” suggesting that many sports venues were actually removing the systems. The article cites a number of issues: The outdoor, mobile units were hard to keep cool; the credit card-only system created fees on all transaction; and many fans preferred the personal interaction of having a human pour their beer.

Still, even if self-serve beer at sporting events has been slow to see overwhelming acceptance, as Capital One Arena proves, it’s certainly not out. That said, Caps fans may not want to get too attached to the idea of pouring their own suds… just in case.

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