Another giant leap forward for beer drinkers

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IN THE ENTIRE history of mankind, there has been only one invention that fundamentally improved life for the beer drinker: the twist-off bottle cap.

OK, two, if you count flushable toilets.

And now there are three, thanks to the Bottoms Up Draft Beer Dispenser. It does exactly what it says: It fills beer cups through the bottom of the cup. A beer vendor simply places a plastic cup on the dispenser, and – without pulling a tap handle or even pressing a button – it fills up in seconds, with a perfect collar of foam on the top.

It’s not just some technological gimmick. It dispenses (don’t say “pours”) beer more cleanly, more efficiently and – most importantly – more quickly than a standard tap. A company video shows a bartender pouring an incredible 56 beers in just 60 seconds.

Within 30 seconds of watching, the genius of this invention suddenly dawns on you: No more waiting in line for beer at the stadium. No more hoping that you can grab a cup without missing a touchdown, no more endless waits while a vendor tops it off with too much foam, dumps it off, re-pours, then dumps it again and again until you’re ready to swear off drinking and football.

The Bottoms-Up fills a cup in less time than it takes to pull out your wallet to pay for the darn thing.

“It’s magic,” said Mike Price, vice president of Grinon Industries, which manufactures the device. “There’s a little bit of black magic and sorcery involved.”

Actually, the secret is a thin, circular refrigerator magnet that covers a hole at the bottom of the cup. When the cup is placed on the dispenser, the magnet raises and the beer flows in. When the filled cup is lifted, the magnet drops back into place, attaching to a metal rim at the cup’s base.

Because the dispenser’s simple construction allows hands-free filling (no need to hold a tap handle or tip the cup), a vendor can fill multiple cups at once, or even run off to fetch an order of fries without worrying about an overflow; it shuts off automatically when the cup is filled.

Josh Springer, 28, who invented it, said he came up with the idea “in a daydream.” He’d been working as a shop manager at a sign company in Washington state when he began pondering the tedium of pouring beer. Maybe there’s a better way, he thought.

“My old man said I couldn’t figure it out,” Springer said. “Four days later I had a working prototype.”

He built it out of spare parts screwed to the top of a TV tray.

That was about three years ago. He patented the device, founded Grinon (named after his perpetual smile) and has already placed the Bottoms Up into about 30 venues across the nation. Several football stadiums installed it this year, and officials at the Linc have considered installing it next season. Meanwhile, word is it may make an appearance at Super Bowl XLV next month at Cowboys Stadium. The stadium and beer reps I spoke with love it because they expect they’ll sell more beer. They note two downsides, though:

One, the cups are more expensive than standard plastic cups. But Grinon says that cost can be completely eliminated by selling advertisements on the collectible magnets.

Second, and more serious for beer drinkers, the cups have a hole in the bottom. Yes, it’s covered with the magnet – till some jokester sticks his finger into your cup and unplugs the thing.

But, people: Aren’t you listening?

No more waiting in the beer line!



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