Tap rooms can be intimidating for someone searching for the perfect beer. You don't want to get stuck with a pint of something that's not to your liking, but new breweries are pumping out beers at a pace faster than you can keep up with. Ideally, it would be great to just step behind the bar and pour yourself a few samples without having to bug the bartender every few minutes, then settle into a session with your favorite new find. Beer blogger and connoisseur Mark Slattery — known to many as Denver Beer Guy — agrees with you, and he's opening a new tap room called First Draft that will allow you to do just that. Using iPourIt, a self-service tap technology system, Slattery is bringing Denver's first serve-yourself beer bar to the new 2601 Larimer development in River North.
Slattery is aiming for an early summer opening for First Draft, which will feature a rotating selection of forty craft beers, ciders and wines. The iPourIt system will allow customers open a tab and pour their own beers, using wristbands to track how much they pour — and owe. (Sensors on the taps are accurate to a tenth of an ounce.) Slattery plans to stock one-third to one-half of his beers from Colorado Brewers, with the remainder coming from highly sought-after kegs from across the country.
For food, Slattery is consulting with chef Jim Cohen of Louisville's Empire Lounge and Restaurant to come up with a fast-casual menu of small bites and shareable plates that will match well with the beer offerings. "It will be an upgrade from traditional pub fare," Slattery says. "It's a nice and leisurely way to pour and taste."
When Slattery was formulating his plan, he knew he wanted to go a different route from opening another craft brewery. "Denver already has a great craft brewery scene," he explains. Instead, he decided to bring "a unique drinking experience" to the city. "We plan to showcase the best beers we can get our hands on," he adds.
First Draft will have a mezzanine level overlooking the main tap room and garage doors opening to a 900 square-foot patio with a fire pit in the front. Slattery would love to be open by Memorial Day weekend, but says June is a more realistic goal.