So what is the “Bottoms Up” draft beer dispensing system – how does it operate, who should own one – and who shouldn’t? Stay tuned!
Bottoms Up is one of the great and innovative products for commercial draft beer dispensing, but as you’ll discover later in this story, it isn’t for everyone.
WHAT IS THE BOTTOMS UP DRAFT BEER DISPENSING SYSTEM?
Bottoms Up is one of the great and innovative products for draft beer dispensing. But as you’ll discover later in this story, it isn’t for everyone. The Bottoms Up draft beer dispenser is a device that replaces the standard beer tower and handle. Bottoms Up is revolutionary in that it fills beer glasses from the bottom. The inventor of the device and company CEO, Josh Springer, says that the concept came to him in a daydream in 2008 and the concept was so well conceived that he had a functioning prototype four days later! To me this is a fascinating success story, especially considering that the draft beer market has some very formidable and innovative competitors, such as Micro Matic and Perlick! Springer and co-founder Mike Price subsequently formed the company “GrinOn”. Sales of the product immediately took-off and it is currently being sold the world over.
HOW DOES THE BOTTOMS UP BEER DISPENSER WORK?
The Bottoms Up beer dispensing system works with traditional draft beer systems, such as the direct-draw (“kegerator” as shown in this photo) or long-draw system. The filling process utilizes proprietary dispensing hardware (which takes the place of the draft beer tower and faucet handle) and a specialized cup or glass, that fills from the bottom. Bottoms Up dispensers, typically offered in clusters of two or four, and are surface-mount or flush mounted, the latter of which can be installed rather efficiently. The turning point in the development of the Bottoms Up product was the implementation of a magnetic disc that sits on the inside of the bottom of the glass. The disc is temporarily displaced during the filling process and flips back into position (to seal the hole) at the end of the pour. Depending on the size of the glass being used, each dispenser can be easily programmed (or re-programmed) as depicted in this photo. The filling process is completed with incredible efficiency – much faster than traditional overhead dispensing. In fact, filling glasses from the bottom is evidently a concept nobody in the draft beer industry had ever given much thought to. Only in America!
IS THE BOTTOMS UP BEER DISPENSER GOOD FOR EVERYONE?
I believe it’s best suited for stadiums, where food and beer are sold at walk-up concessions, and the sales associates are primarily serving beer in plastic cups, as its only alcohol-type offering, as shown in this photo.
A WORD ABOUT DRAFT BEER POURING EFFICIENCY
The claim that the Bottoms-Up system justifies itself through increased efficiency is only valid where there’s a high volume of draft beer being poured, but there’s really much more to understand. No doubt, straight out-of-the box, Bottoms-Up is an efficiency machine – perhaps as high as 99%; after all, nothing is perfect. However, in the bar business, it isn’t about how much you’re pouring – it’s about how much money you’re making! This is why inventory control is the king of the bar business. I don’t care which product you’re considering, if you don’t have good inventory controls you’re losing a lot of money! According to industry expert and CPA, Chuck Deibel of Bevinco Bar Services, bar and restaurant owners are losing 20% due to shrinkage – theft – and they’re totally unaware of it! In Deibel’s 2014 State of Ohio Sales Tax Audit Brief (which can be downloaded below), which studied 326 bars and restaurants, owners without inventory controls are the big losers. The good news is that Bevinco (also known as Sculpture Hospitality) reports that customers routinely reduce their shrinkage to 2 – 3%, and this includes beer, wine and liquor! So, the bottom line is that the Bottoms-Up system is, at best, 1 – 2% better, but that’s just for beer. You also have the ongoing cost of purchasing expensive glasses. So, if you’re looking to make more money, the real question is, ‘Would you rather invest in a machine or in inventory control?’
In conclusion, I really like the Bottoms-Up draft beer system and think it has a great future. However, the Bottoms-Up system should only be used in high-volume pouring, which is what makes it so ideal for stadiums. Bar and restaurant owners who sell craft beer need to display their fashionable beer towers and tap handles if they want to reap the full benefit of selling it! I believe that a program of ongoing professional liquor inventory control service is a prudent and necessary investment for any bar and restaurant owner who wants to generate far greater profits. And that, my friends, is the way I see it.
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