Jim McCune: Pouring it on in Port Jefferson

Jim McCune tries the iPourIt self-serve beer tap system. No more waiting for a pint. (photo: ThatGuyEventPhoto.com)

By JIMMY MCCUNE // Port Jefferson’s LI Pour House is the first Long Island establishment to deploy iPourIt, an RFID-controlled tap system that allows customers to sample their favorite brews without help from a waitress or bartender.

“You pour what you want, and pay for what you pour,” noted co-owner and manager Anthony Pallino. “No bartender, no wait.”

The system was developed by a pair of California entrepreneurs – beer drinkers, of course – after an especially long wait at their local pub. While there are other RFID-run systems on the market, iPourIt offers bar owners the opportunity to store customer data on a server for later marketing efforts. Loyalty coupons, say, or alerts on upcoming beer-tasting events.

iPourIt also tracks customers wherever they go, meaning you’ll get treated like a regular if you stop into an iPourIt bar on a vacation or business trip.

Most importantly from a management standpoint, the system sets consumption limits on a customer-by-customer basis – it’s accurate down to 1/100th of an ounce – and, since it’s self-serve, iPourIt can help reduce labor costs.

Santa Ana-based iPoutIt just landed a $1.3 million venture round, by the way, suggesting they’ll be around for awhile.

The LI Pour House has a 20-tap setup featuring craft brews – about half local – as well as fruit beers and ciders. They’re currently pouring Brooklyn, Port Jeff, Long Ireland, Fire Island and Great South Bay creations, among others.

On a recent visit, I handed over my credit card and driver’s license and they put the RFID bracelet on my wrist. And off I went. Each tap has a bright, digital screen that displays the brewery logo and beer description with technical data. It also shows four-step instructions on how to achieve a perfect pour.

I chose Port Jeff Brewing’s Beach Beer by simply holding my bracelet against the wood plaque to begin my pour. I only poured a few ounces to sample it. After a couple of sips, I knew I liked this beer, so I poured again – this time until my pint was full.

Other customers prefer to just keep sampling, which is another of the system’s best-loved features.

“I really like coming here because it’s something different and I can sample beers until I find one that I like,” fellow patron Alex Catti of Port Jefferson told me. “I try a little sample of this, and a sample of that, because it’s fun to pour your own. You don’t get to do that in other places.”

Besides beer, the Pour House is known for its barbecue, produced under the supervision of co-owner Joseph Festinger, who trained under Food Network star – and three time Barbeque World Champion – Myron Mixon. Festinger turns out his ’cue using a massive, 3,000-pound “full hog” smoker.

“No gas, no propane, just charcoal and locally sourced cherry wood logs,” he told me. “We’re smoking brisket, ribs, pulled pork, chicken and wings.”

The Pour House’s wings deserve special mention: The Buffalo variety placed first in this year’s NY Best Wings competition and the menu’s coconut wings landed in the top five.

As diner Wendy Sindel of East Setauket confided to me: “Their BBQ is top notch.”

The Pour House is hosting its first annual “Good-bye Summer” craft beer festival on Aug. 22, when 16+ local breweries will be on hand to promote their brands. There’s also a wing-eating competition planned for the first 50 patrons who sign up.

The L.I. Pour House is located at 650 Route 112 in Port Jefferson, 631-509-1914, lipourhouse.com

It will forever change your beer-drinking experience.

McCune is director of the Craft Beverage Division of Melville-based EGC Group. Reach him via jimm@egcgroup.com or at 516-935-4944.


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