Pour Bros. Craft Taproom, the newest bar in Downtown Champaign, will officially open for business tomorrow, Saturday, September 1st.

It's a brand new space that looks and smells as such; they did a nice job with the remodel. The bar feels like other bars I've been to in other, slightly larger gentrifying cities — cozy colors and wood accents with a touch of industrial "cool."

What makes this drinks-only-no-food-bar different than all the other bars downtown? You get to pour your own beer, and you pay by the ounce. There are 28 taps. Eight taps will feature local brews (Big Thorn, Blind Pig, Triptych, for example); sixteen taps will feature other beer (Sam Adams, Ballast Point, New Holland, etc., etc.); four taps will feature wine. Prices per pint are listed above the tap. The full menu of taps is on a digitial display across from the bar. There is also a full bar for those who would prefer to drink hard liquor. 

There's a "game room" on the north side of the building featuring two skee-ball machines, two pinball machines, Pac-Man, Buck Hunt, hockey foosball, and some golfing game. There's an ATM and a change machine to get quarters to play.

The beer garden/patio/former pocket prairie is not yet complete.

Perhaps most importantly, here's how the drinking works:

1. Get your special card. This little white card is your key to unlocking the taps. It functions like a cruise ship account: You charge a bunch of drinks to it, then pay out at the end. In order to get this little card you'll need to show your ID (21+ only, duh), and provide a credit card to keep on file. If you lose this card over the course of the night, or forget to check out at the end of the night, you're in for a big bill. Your card on file will be charged for the drinks and a hefty replacement fee for the card. Do not lose this card. When you close your tab at the end of the night you can select a different payment method than the card on file.

2. You are limited to 60 ounces on your card. This saves the bar from liability when you pound back 50 ounces in an hour and then try to do it again because you’re mad at your dad. If you're buying drinks for friends, allow them to use their own cards. When you check out, collect their white cards and you can charge all those drinks to your credit card. 

3. To get your booze, first tap your special card to the logo on the bottom right of the tap plaque. The plastic bit at the top of the plaque will light up green. You can now pour your beer. If you miss your green light window, you’ll have to tap again.

4. At the end of your pour, you’ll see how much you poured and how much of your 60 ounces you have left. It does not tell you how much you spent.

5. Drink your beer!

6. Go back for more, try some other brews.

I have a few observations, in no particular order:

  • There are only two televisions. Thank you.
  • There’s a Touch Tunes thingie, which means yay if it’s a slowish night, and boo if there’s a bachelorette party.
  • Watch out for these steps!

  • There is no way to clean your glass between drinks. You’re either expected to use a dirty glass (which could be fine if your beers aren’t too dissimilar), or get a new, clean glass. If we’re modeling the pour-your-own beer after the buffet, then a new glass it must be, even if it seems a little wasteful. You’d get a new glass if you ordered another beer from the bar, anyway.

  • There aren’t enough games! If you’re going to call it a game room, then make it a real game room. Get some more machines. Then, make those things free. Seriously. (We need a barcade™ bar-arcade/beercade/bar that has a lot of arcade games in C-U.) I will buy all your beer if I can play Burger Time and pinball and Ms. Pac-Man for “free.” And I’ll bring my friends, too.

Pour Bros. 
40 E University Ave
Champaign
T-Th 3 p.m. to midnight
F + Sa noon to 1 a.m.
Su noon to 10 p.m.

Photos by Jessica Hammie