By Diane Catanzaro and Chris Jones
You heard it VEER first! A new taproom and restaurant called Decent People will bring an innovative concept to Hampton Roads, the self-serve taproom. You help yourself to as much (or as little) of the beer as you like, and pay by the ounce! This is an increasingly popular concept across the nation because it put YOU, the consumer, in the driver’s seat. The idea is to make craft beer more user-friendly and approachable. We have experienced this self-serve concept first-hand in other cities and love it!
Wes McCullough and Todd Walsh were Navy and commercial divers with a homebrew hobby and dreams of a future career in beer. Their friend Eric Langhorst, an IT network engineer, introduced them to a self-serve craft beer bar in San Diego. While they had considered opening a brewery, the self-serve beer bar is a fresh concept that builds on our already strong craft beer culture here in Hampton Roads. Wes, Todd, and Eric formed a partnership and Decent People is slated to open in November, in the Harbor View area of Suffolk.
So, how does the self-serve concept work? It uses RFID technology to measure how much beer you pour from each user-friendly tap. You swipe or hover either a chip-embedded card or wristband by the tap, and then pour your beer. It keeps track of what beers you drank and how much. At the end, you settle up. Easy!
Have you ever looked at a beer menu and felt overwhelmed by so many choices that you stuck with something tried-and-true? How do you know if you will enjoy that smoked saison, dry-hopped double IPA, or sour peach ale? Maybe you keep ordering that go-to pilsner lager rather than risk a pint of something you might not care for. The self-serve wall of beer is about to change your life for the better!
At Decent People, you can pour yourself a small taste of as many beers as you like to decide which float your boat. Nobody’s gonna judge. No exasperated looks from a bartender if you want to try a half-ounce pour of every beer on tap! Of course, you can pour a full glass as well, and different size glasses will be available. The result is a beer-snob free zone, where each individual can explore the range of beers on tap at his or her own pace, and decide what suits their personal palate. The mission of Decent People is “to make craft beer accessible to all, with variety, choice, and freedom.”
Okay, so you are an experienced beer drinker. You know the difference between gose and gueuze. Just from the aroma. You have a hops tattoo. Your daughters are named Amarillo, Abbey, and Amber. You are Facebook friends with Vinnie AND Natalie. What does Decent People have to offer you, beer pro, master of malt, high priestess of hops? The experienced beer enthusiast gets variety, choice, and freedom, also. Decent People will open with 43 taps of craft beer, and have the capacity to expand to 60. Shorter pours mean you get to try more beers! A 16-ounce pint is a commitment. Even a 12-ounce pour is a commitment for those of us who crave variety. Maybe some days you feel like making a commitment. Other times you want to play the field. Maybe start out the occasion with something bitter, followed by a sour or wild ale, then pivot to a light malty German style lager, then finally a higher-alcohol barleywine or imperial stout to cap off the evening. For those beer explorers who are Untapped, shorter self-serve pours mean you get to try more beers and score more badges. It is easier to do this when you aren’t required to invest in a full pour of each. We love being able to choose exactly how much of each beer we want.
In addition to the beer, Decent People will be a restaurant with a simple menu of fresh and farm-to-table foods, as every beer deserves a tasty food accompaniment. Decent People will open in November, at 5140 River Club Drive, Suffolk. We will keep you posted as the date gets closer!