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Head to The Heights Taproom for a different kind of beer experience. “It’s almost like adult fro-yo,” says bar manager Shane Yingling. But instead of pumping fruity flavors of frozen yogurt into a cup, customers visit a wall boasting 44 self-serve taps. Illinois-based company Pour My Beer makes the system that you won’t find in many bars in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia.
To start your beer safari, grab a plastic card that looks like a hotel room key from your server or bartender, then head to the wall where you can tap each individual screen to learn about the beer or cider being offered as well as the price per ounce.
“The beauty of it is you can pour two or three ounces of each beer,” Yingling says. “You don’t have to commit to a full glass. You can build your own flights. However you want to do it. We’ve had people do an ‘around the world,’ where they go from one to 44.”
There is a built-in algorithm that cuts customers off if they’re going overboard. “It has to do with the amount of alcohol poured and the alcohol percentage,” Yingling explains. “For example, I did a flight for someone. He wanted high-alcohol beers. It cut me off on the 20th ounce because they were 12-16% ABV beers.”
A customer’s card will stop working once they’ve reached the limit but you can go see a server to re-up. “If one of my staff members says, ‘No you’re too intoxicated,’ they’ll take the card.”
Tipping has gone down slightly because patrons aren’t dependent on servers or bartenders for refills. “But nobody lost their job because we put in a 44-tap self-pour system,” Yingling says.
The bar is currently offering beers from across the country in addition to local favorites. There are typically two ciders, two gose or sour beers, ten light beers like pilsners and hefeweizens, ten IPAs, and six or so stouts, according to Yingling.
The Heights Taproom is now owned by Chris Ahn. It was previously an EatWell DC restaurant (Logan Tavern, Commissary, The Pig, Grillfish, The Bird). In addition to the Pour My Beer system that was installed in October, the bar just rolled out a completely new menu.
Dishes include Korean fried chicken ($16), two takes on Hawaiian loco moco ($14-$16), five Po’ Boy sandwiches including the “Sloppy Duck” ($14), ale steamed mussels ($12), and stout and cheddar meatloaf ($16).
The Heights Taproom, 3115 14th St. NW; (202) 797-7227; theheightstaproom.com