Dirty Dog Taphaus trying to take self-serve to the next level

The New Glarus self-pour taproom features 30 self-pour beverages showcasing local and regional craft brews, and could be the wave of the future.

Open since April, Dirty Dog Taphaus in New Glarus is the area’s first self-serve taproom, offering patrons a chance to pour their own beers, ciders, and seltzers from a selection of 30 local and regional craft brews.

The new concept is powered by self-pour beverage dispensers from iPourIt, which provides RFID-enabled self-pour technology that allows guests to serve themselves using a wristband to activate the taps and keep track of their tab. The self-serve format gives users the freedom to explore and sample a variety of beverages as they please, without committing to a full pour.

Owners and husband-and-wife team Leah Hanson and Keith Kube first discovered iPourIt technology at First Draft Taproom in Denver and fell in love with the business model. The pair had never thought to venture into the bar and restaurant space but decided to take a shot and be the first to bring the self-pour experience home to New Glarus, where Hanson has lived for 25 years.

“We were just enamored with the self-pour concept,” shares Hanson. “It’s a fun, relaxed experience that offers a unique social aspect when guests are chatting and engaging at the tap wall. We’ve had such a wonderful mix of folks already — people in their mid-20s to their mid-80s and families with young children. The diversity proves that this model is welcoming to people of any age at any point in life.

“My husband Keith has owned his own successful business, Iowa Fabrication and Machine, for many years and I am in medical device sales,” continues Hanson. “After visiting Denver, we found ourselves constantly talking about this business model and kept thinking, ‘If we could find the right place in New Glarus, this would be such a fun adventure.’”

The couple purchased their space in the former Zweifel Jewelry store on 6th Avenue in downtown New Glarus in mid-2020 and planned to simply lease or rent the building for a while. But as they watched folks transition from pandemic to a post-pandemic “new normal,” they became confident this concept would have great appeal.

Hanson and Kube currently operate the business with the help of several part-time employees, and the low overhead model is one of the biggest benefits, notes Hanson. “Our job is to welcome folks to the Dirty Dog Taphaus, explain how the system works, ensure they have a chilled glass, and the patron takes it from there — pouring their own beer, cider, or seltzer to relax inside our historic building or sit outside on our outdoor patio.”

The self-pour tap wall features a rotating selection of local and regional craft beers, ciders, and seltzers. Five taps in the center are reserved for favorites from nearby New Glarus Brewing Co., one of the most recognized craft breweries in the Midwest that only offers distribution in Wisconsin. The remaining taps offer an array of styles and tastes that aren’t easily found outside of the big cities, plus 1919 Draft Root Beer for DIY root beer floats.

Guests can order from a menu of traditional pub fare that includes cheese curds, warm pretzels, brats, and pizza. Guests are also encouraged to bring in food from neighboring eateries like Puempel’s Olde Tavern, Sportsman’s Bar & Grill, and Glarner Stube.

Located at 101 6th Ave., Dirty Dog fuses New Glarus’ historical Swiss roots with modern, innovative digital technology. The former Zweifel Jewelry store’s exterior archway was restored and reconstructed above the self-pour tap wall to preserve and highlight the building’s original design.

The taproom is minutes away from hiking and biking trails, has a large dog-friendly patio, and plans to host live music on the weekends in the coming months.

Dirty Dog Taphaus is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for 2022 but the couple plans to expand the business’ days/hours in 2023 and incorporate comments and suggestions to enhance and improve the experience.

Based on initial feedback, it could take a while to come up with such suggestions. According to Hanson, the response from customers so far has been, “Amazing! 100% fantastic!”

“The village of New Glarus, Green County, and the surrounding communities and counties have been so welcoming and supportive,” Hanson adds. “We can’t thank everyone enough. As of last weekend, we exceeded 100,000 ounces poured in just nine weekends! We’re looking forward to a great summer celebrating 2022, our new-normal of post-pandemic life, and southern Wisconsin!”

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