Although it’s been open for a couple of years, I only just got around to trying the Stanley Beer Hall at Stanley Marketplace adjacent to the Stapleton neighborhood. It’s a relatively unique concept for the Denver market and for me at least, a mixed bag of cool ideas and mild annoyance.
How it Works: When you arrive you have to check in at the front desk to get a card that allows you to pour your own beer and keeps a running tab. A row of taps with electronic flow monitoring sits at the back of the restaurant. When you want a drink you wave your card in front of the monitor and then dispense as much beer as you want. Beers are priced per ounce and the system tracks of how much you’ve purchased via your card.
First, the Pro’s:
- The flexible pour-yourself concept lets you try a greater variety of different beers by having partial glasses or enjoy smaller pours of high-gravity beers.
- They have a relatively wide selection of craft beers and ciders (plus one lonely Coors Light) including seasonals and unique beers from Front-Range breweries
- The taps also offer a few wines and cocktails for non-beer-drinkers
- Each time you pour, the LCD screen shows how many total ounces you have consumed so you can monitor how much you’ve had
- You can load your card for a pre-set amount if you have a drinking budget or leave it open-ended and pay at the end.
- They serve food. This part is done by servers, which makes the self-service beer part a little confusing as employees are already making the rounds of the place.
Now the Cons:
- You do all the work, constantly leaving your seat to trek acrossthe restaurant to the taps. This is particularly annoying if you are eating as well as drinking.
- Beer info is only provided on the screens at the taps and even that is rather limited. As a result, things jam up while everyone tries to read the various tiny screens to make their choices.
- Much of the beer is relatively expensive if you convert ounces to pints ($7-$9 per pint). While the LCDs show your volume they do not show your total, which makes it a little hard to tell how much you are spending. The price issue particularly annoyed me since I was doing the work of waiter/bartender.
- You have to wait in line to get the card and wait while the hostess sets up the account
- You have to wait in line to close out the card if you haven’t pre-paid
Overall I think the place has a cool concept, a nice location, and a comfortable vibe. However the whole process of cards, taps, etc. could be executed a little better to have less wait time and hassle so the focus could be on the fun aspects like sampling the well-curated beer selection.