Football fans praise self-service beer dispensers that pour 30-second half-time pints

EBar drinks dispensers. Credit: EBar

By ITV News Multimedia Producers Daniel Boal and Lottie Kilraine

Queuing for a pint at half-time could be a thing of the past as some Premier League stadiums install self-service refreshment machines.

The queue-cutting dispensers are currently available at Fulham's Craven Cottage, Brighton's Amex Stadium and Aston Villa's Villa Park.

And, at just £4.50, Fulham fans have been quenching their thirst with pints cheaper than those found elsewhere in London.

However the beers do fluctuate in price as the game goes on, with the cheaper option only being available before kick-off - pints purchased at half-time will instead cost £6.80.

Produced by EBar, fans only have to show their ID to prove they are over 18, tap a contactless card and then watch two beers be poured in less than 30 seconds.

The Aberdeen-based firm say their product is capable of "pouring the perfect drink" while "providing a quick and simple way to buy a drink without the pain of a typical event bar."

Each dispenser is equipped with two nozzles, which EBar says "maximises the service speed".

For some fans, this new technology is a "vast improvement" to the long queues before and during games.

Fulham fans have been quenching their thirst with pints cheaper than those found elsewhere in London. Credit: PA

Chris Lloyd, who is an Oldham Athletic fan, told ITV News: "I used it in September when we had them at our new Oldham Athletic fan bar, at Boundary Park.

"The new fan bar opened and quickly became really popular on match days which meant waiting to queue for a beer at the bar in August was lengthy.

"Following these large queues, Oldham Athletic had three of these EBars on trial.

"I bought a Manchester Craft Lager, which was perfectly poured and tasted as good as usual.

"They are a great idea for time saving for fans, and a quite fun to use," he added.

Football is not the only sporting event the dispensers have been spotted at - with cricket, horse racing, and rugby matches all using the new tech.

Des Oldham used a dispenser at the England v New Zealand test match at Trent Bridge last summer.

"I purchased a pint of Madri lager which was the most perfectly poured pint of the day," he told ITV News.

"The taste was better than a rushed to be served pint. However it cost approximately £1 more - at £6.

"I used it for convenience and novelty value. I think they are a good idea but the consumer should not be penalised for using."

However Mr Oldham said he believes sporting venues across the board that serve beer "get it completely wrong".

"It takes too long," he added.

Videos of the new kiosks have been circulating online, with the majority of sports fans taking to social media to praise the speed of the pint-pouring.

However some have criticised the rollout, saying the new technology will take away jobs from bar staff.

Peter Redman, who is a crowd funding investor for EBar, argued that this will not be the case as staff are still needed to carry out ID checks, and resolve payment and service issues.

"The difference is the staff aren’t pulling the pints, they’re administering the machine and transaction," he told ITV News.

"Hence it’s more efficient and the fans get served faster.

"Also with the pandemic, would you rather someone touched your drink, handed it to someone on the till and then gave it to you - or would you rather you got an untouched, sterile glass?

"Fewer touch points, hopefully fewer germs," he added.

EBar dispensers in Headingly. Credit: EBar

EBar co-founder Sam Pettipher, said: "We see the automated event bar as flipping the old model on its head. Rather than harassed agency staff stuck behind a kiosk fulfilling manual duties of ringing a till or opening a beer tap an EBar deployment sees staff (albeit fewer in number) hosting customers focused on enhancing customer experiences and helping people use the EBar units.

"Automation, in the case of EBar, bring a change in the jobs required and I would argue improves the quality of those jobs.

"There will always be a place for a chatty barmaid or barman in a good local. However, at an event I would suggest that most customers want to get their drink and back to the event they came to see."

As it stands, these self-serving bars are still relatively new.

But with more appearing at sporting events across the country, this could be the new normal.

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