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Target Field's self-service beer machine cuts out the middleman -- the bartender

Target Field's self-service beer machine cuts out the middleman -- the bartender

What would life be like if your local bar allowed you direct access to their beer taps and charged you on a per-ounce basis? Would you be more likely to try a beer you might not otherwise try? Would you miss the interaction with the barkeep, or does fetching your own beer just cut out the middleman? On Sunday, Target Field launched a self-service beer machine that does exactly that, and they'll have two on hand for the upcoming All-Star Game.

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The machines, simply called DraftServ, are the result of a collaborative effort between the folks at Anheuser-Busch and food-service management company Delaware North. The machines deal out beer by the ounce, which in theory allows game-goers the opportunity to better choose the amount of beer they consume.

According to Jerry Jacobs Jr. of Delaware North, "It's a way to engage with the customer and allows the fan to have greater control of what they're drinking."

While we're not so sure if this is actually a way to better "engage" the customer, we'll admit we're intrigued. For the less-than-tech-savvy drinkers, there will be attendants on hand to help. Customers pre-purchase cards from a clerk at a register in $10 or $20 amounts (a $50 card will be made available specifically for the MLB All-Star Game). Once your ID has been checked by an attendant, you can then tap your pre-paid card to the machine and specify what type of beer and how much of it you want. The beer is then dispensed to you by the ounce.

There are, of course, restrictions. The machines will only be allowed to dispense 48 ounces of beer to a customer every 15 minutes. That's the equivalent of three regular bar pints every 15 minutes, which, frankly, is a lot of brewskis.

The DraftServ machines will offer four varieties of beer, including Budweiser, Bud Light, Shocktop Lemon Shandy, and Goose Island 312 Urban Pale Ale. The price per ounce ranges from $.38-$.40, or around $6.08-$6.40 per 16-ounce pint.

Jacobs Jr. acknowledges that there is a large novelty component to the machine, although the company does maintain that it allows users greater control over their drinking experience. "If they want half of a cup, that's all they will pay for," he says.

While this kind of setup makes sense for sampling a variety of beer options, the fact that the choices have been narrowed down to four widely accessible beers seems to take away a bit of the novelty, especially when several pre-existing Target Field vendors offer bigger selections of beer, including several locally brewed options.

So what do you think of these new DraftServ machines? Will they become the next big thing for major sporting events? If you have to buy a card first, does this mean you have to wait in line twice to buy beer? Would you be more interested if you were given a greater number of beers to choose from? Let us know in the comments section below.

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