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Tabletop tap tech begets bountiful beer

It's a beer lover's dream come true: a tap right at the table, with on-demand lager. No sitting around trying to flag a waitress for a refill. Just put your glass under the tap and milk it for all it's worth.

Johnny Crawford/STAFF 

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There's just one catch.

You're drinking on the meter and when the table hits the limit, the flow stops. At least temporarily.

Stats, a new downtown sports bar, spent $110,000 to install the system. The Table Tap technology lets guests serve themselves once waitresses check identifications and turn on a meter. The taps connect to 16 kegs in a basement cooler, and guests can pick which two they want hooked up at the table.

"I want one in my house," said Kevin McDonough of Sandy Springs, who was sipping on a pint of Harp that he'd poured himself./

The meters tick away suds by the ounce, with prices ranging from 25 cents to 37 cents. That amounts to $4 a pint for the least expensive beer.

When the table hits 180 ounces, the taps stop pouring until a server checks over the table

Table Tap founder Jeff Libby negotiated the limit with the Georgia Department of Revenue, settling on an amount equal to the largest pitchers in use at other restaurants. It's the same self-serve concept, he figured.

"You can't just sit here and endlessly pour beer," says Todd Rushing, a partner in Concentrics Restaurants.

At 180 ounces a table, that works out to 1 pint for 12 guests. Smaller groups could dream about sloshing over to Philips Arena, just a few hundred feet away.

Rushing is quick to say that Stats is positioning itself as a family-friendly place to draw visitors from the nearby Georgia Aquarium, and not the stereotypical sports bar where guys sit around and swill beer.

Still, the pour-your-own approach is much more appealing than scanning cereal through a self-serve checkout lane. Not just for drinkers, but for restaurateurs.

With meters on many of the taps, including at an upstairs bar, nobody gets a freebie.

With guests at seven tables and 10 private rooms free to pour their own, labor costs shrink.

And the technology is an exclusive for now, although Libby is preparing to sell Table Tap to other establishments now that Stats has opened.

But beer drinkers are still tasked with one thing to figure out on their own: How much do you tip if you're the one doing the ordering and pouring?