Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Pipe dreams. World domination of beer bars

The Bouchons in Lyon open for dinner at 7.30 pm. Not wanting to be the first at dinner, we had made reservations for 8.00 pm. Before that we invariably had a drink at a bar, and thus fortified, proceeded to dinner.

This one evening, on 31st October, it was Halloween. Halloween is celebrated in most Christian countries similarly - trick or treat which we have read in books and comics when young, or dressing up in costume, preferably scary. In France it is known as La Toussaint, in Mexico it’s the Dia Des MuertosThis day is normally a holiday and focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. We Hindoos have the dreaded Pitru Paksh as do the Muslims who have the Shab E Baraat. Shab E Baraat is normally celebrated with lumpen Muslim youths performing “stunts” all night on motorcycles while our helpless cowardly Hindoo Police stand around watching.

Apologies. I digress.

On 31st October we walked into Beer O Clock a pub in Lyon. Within minutes I felt like Alexander the Great, or Napoleon or to come to think of it, Hitler. I thought I could conquer the world, after conquering Mumbai and India of course, with this wonderful concept I saw at Beer O Clock.

Let me tell you about how I planned to do it. So simple, and, without being facetious, a really brilliant concept.

Do have a look at the photo below.

What do you see? A bank of unbranded [white labeled] beer dispensers, each with a TV Screen and a spigot on the bottom. The spigot is to spray cool water into your glass. This not only cools your glass, but rinses it clean of odors, dirt and so on. How does this work?

This is where it gets brilliant.

Each dispenser contains a different beer. The TV screen provides you with information on the beer, its type [blonde, Trappist etc.] its tasting notes, its price, alcoholic strength, name, and a picture. Obviously with a TV screen you can change the display as you like very easily with no need for substantial modifications. On the side of each dispenser is a card reader.

You go to the bar and buy a prepaid card, say 20 Euros. Select a glass from the selection kept on a rack and take the card and glass to the bank of dispensers. Choose the beer you want, give you glass a rinse by using the water spray. Place your prepaid card in the slot and pour yourself the beer. You can pour as much or as little as you like. You could pour a tablespoon to taste. If you like it pour yourself some more. If you don’t like it, rinse the glass and pour yourself another beer from another dispenser.

As you pour your card is charged. Much like dispensing petrol at a petrol station, you will be charged at the rate for the beer depending on how much you pour. Once you are done, hand over the glass and walk out.

Fantastic, brilliant, superb. What a wonderful concept. Truly path breaking according to me.

Look at the advantages. As a bar owner you can easily change the beer you offer. Simply change the keg and the description on the TV. Dodgy beer supply, no problem, simply change keg and description. No more dealing with drooling idiots who want to taste the beer. They can simply pour themselves a spoon and taste.  No more bartenders. No more begging for the bartender’s attention. No more pilfering and giving free drinks and all the other bullshit you have with freeloaders and complainers.

Here are some more advantages. You can keep your prepaid card and simply come in when you like, have a glass and waltz off. No wasting time looking for a table, catching a waiter’s eye, get the bill, get the card machine, pay cash, the madness of service charge and tip. All gone, vanished POOF. You could, if you like, measure your alcohol spends by spending only what you load on your card every day, or week or month. Of course, that means you drink at only one place.

I was gob smacked.

The bar did have food, and other types of alcohol and all other things that make a bar a bar. But this concept of a prepaid card and automatic dispensing really appealed to me.

Then my brain started working towards beer domination.

Suppose we do this in Mumbai. Multiple outlets, Colaba, Lower Parel, Bandra, Lokhandwalla and Powai. Cards compatible at all. You could dispense all manner of beer both the classic like Kingfisher, the imported like Hoegaarden and Edelweiss and all the indi breweries – Gateway, Bira, Doolaly etc.

Cards could be linked to your Paymate account so you can load them using your wallet. You could have multiple cards, one for you and one, for say, your wife.

Then you could link them to your Aadhar so that if your beer card is stolen it could be disabled since you can’t use the beer card without your Aadhar. You could expand the card to being an App on your mobile, both Android and Apple compatible. Using the App you could load your card or see if any new beers are on at a bar, or special offers.

Once I went that far, I know my imagination was running away. I knew I was getting out of control.

Using Aadhar to buy booze in India? Privacy, would your Mummy Daddy know where and how much you are drinking? Would the Supreme Court frown?


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