Beer Breakthrough!

Finally, an answer to the centuries-old problem of getting more suds to more people It seemingly defies gravity. It absolutely defies common sense. It is the Bottoms Up draft beer dispenser and it got its start right here in Las Vegas … kind of.

Pouring beer the old-fashioned way is fraught with peril, namely foam and spills. That’s not an issue if you’re quaffing suds at some haughty brewpub, but when you’re standing in line at a U2 concert and there are 100 people between you and that 16-ounce Bud, time is of the essence.

So 28-year-old inventor Josh Springer had an idea: Why not fill beer cups from the bottom and seal them with a little magnet when they’re full? Yes, it sounds crazy, but so did the horseless carriage at first. Springer built a prototype out of auto parts and a spare tray and kept refining his idea until he had a working model. Then he shopped it around. That’s where we come in.

Joe Carter, food and beverage director for the Thomas & Mack Center, was sold on this novel way of filling beer cups after seeing it in action at Sam Boyd Stadium in 2009. “I put it together in about one second,” Carter says. “The reaction of the fans was unbelievable. They were stunned.” The Thomas & Mack became an early beta tester of the system, one of the first big arenas in the country to use it.

Not only is the Bottoms Up entertaining—the beer appears to rise magically in the glass—it’s also efficient. All a server has to do is place a special cup on the machine, wait for it to fill then hand it off to a thirsty customer. A YouTube video of the Bottoms Up shows three guys filling 52 beers in one minute, which may or may not be some kind of a world record.

The only drawback is that cups cost more because of the magnet that seals them. Carter says that extra cost can easily be covered by selling ads on the magnets, which make nice souvenirs for the refrigerator after the beer is gone. Of course the other problem is that some people can’t refrain from sticking their finger in the hole in the bottom of the cup just because it’s there, with predictable results.

“You’ve got to wonder what they’re thinking,” he says.