Start adding the words "Tapwall" and "Tapcard" to your drinking vocabulary. In early 2017 or thereabouts, Wicker Park is slated to house Chicago's first bar completely dedicated to pour-your-own beer, a place where customers will be able to choose from a large variety of options on 40-50 taps on a wall. Tapster, named after the Old English word for bartender, is coming to 2027 W. North Ave., formerly the Interior Define furniture store. Another pour-your-own beer bar, Red Arrow Tap Room, is coming soon to suburban Elmhurst, and Public House and other bars have pour-your-own beer options, but Tapster will be the first in the city completely dedicated to the concept.
Roman Maliszewski, a former marketing and tech professional, is the man behind the project. After traveling and seeing pour-your-own systems at nearly 300 bars around the country—with many fewer concepts completely dedicated to the system—he wondered why Chicago doesn't have a bar dedicated to it, and why other bars don't have a wall of self-serve taps rather than using them at tables. He started selling Pour My Beer technology around the country and signed the lease last week to open a bar dedicated to the concept in Chicago. "This is a huge dream of mine," Maliszewski says.
When open, customers will be greeted by an employee with a tablet to sell you a "Tapcard," Maliszewski says. Then you can proceed to the "Tapwall" on your left, with taps for a variety of craft beer both local and from around the country, as well as wine, Prosecco, rose, and cocktails on tap to choose from. Customers will be able to choose from a variety of sizes and shapes of glassware on a shelf above the taps—Maliszewski says the most common size is four ounces because customers like to taste many beers, and that the taps are made to shut off after a pour of two full pints (32 ounces) maximum. The taps will be organized from light to dark, with screens above each to describe the beers. "I want to change the mentality of the way people drink," he says.
Opposite the "Tapwall" will be a bar staffed with actual bartenders, where people can order fresh-made cocktails and shots—but no beer.
The space will also house an area for daytime Kombucha, coffee, and craft sodas beyond the "Tapwall" and bar, Maliszewski says. This area will also house a large communal table that he wants to add lifts to, so it can be suspended in the air sometimes to reveal a temporary bocce court.
Maliszewski is also planning to serve food in the rear of the space. Expect deli items, paninis, meat and cheese plates, olives, and craft popcorn there, as well as more seating.
If all goes according to plan, you'll be able to start pouring beer yourself for the first time in the city early next year.