By Will Carroll
I’d seen the trick before, but it remains a good one. Like Ricky Jay doing Three Card Monte, watching the Bottoms Up Beer fill a cup from the bottom, quickly, automatically and perfectly, is still spellbinding.
The problem is, Bottoms Up is more than a parlor trick. Better yet, it’s made here in Indianapolis.
Kyle Johnson, the marketing manager of Bottoms Up, and his crew were out at the Indy Eleven tailgate prior to their game last week, demonstrating their amazing product to the soccer and beer fans of Indy. If you haven’t seen their product, it’s easier to show the video:
Watching the beer fill up from the bottom is one of those things that never gets old. It’s so unusual looking that people who don’t drink beer stop to watch. But that’s also part of the problem, according to Johnson. “There’s so much more to it than just filling it up. Too many people focus on the wow factor and ignore the financial benefits. If the cup wasn’t clear, it would still make sense.”
The reason is that the Bottoms Up unit is automatic. As you can see in the video, the cup clicks on, fills and then is pulled off with no real effort. There’s no handle to pull, foam to consider or worry about overflow.
That lack of foam is part of why the Bottoms Up unit makes sense for bars. “Not only is it faster, we can get 106 perecent yield from a keg. Usually, there’s an allowance made for foam. Whether you’re a bar or at home, you shouldn’t have to tolerate wasting a big part of a keg of good beer.”
Johnson is right. As the owner of a kegerator, I know that there’s a major hassle trying to get the CO2 set correctly and waiting for the foam to burn off a new keg. You see the same thing in commercial operations.
The Bottoms Up unit is one that’s simply better. While the company did a deal with Anheuser-Busch (now InBev) to help grow the business, they resisted a buy out despite offers. “We think this should be the new standard,” Johnson told me. “We have a better product all around. It serves more beer faster. We can serve any beer at the perfect temperature. It’s made here in the USA, every single part.”
Another great part of the system is the cup itself. The magnet that makes the unit possible also doubles as a souvenir. At last week’s Indy Eleven game, they had both logos for the Eleven at the bottom of the cup. Magnets like that not only make a cheap souvenir, but can go on the refrigerator at home.
“We’re doing a promotion online we call the ransom series,” Johnson told me. “We put a different letter on the magnets and people can spell out words. The bigger the word, the better the prize.” I can imagine something along the lines of McDonald’s Monopoly game working here. The other key to fridge magnets is that those things stay there forever.
Another use for the magnets could be coupons. “A beer a restaurant sells on Saturday could have a coupon for Tuesday or Wednesday. Every beer they pour on a big night helps fill up a slow night,” Johnson told me.
The Bottoms Up unit isn’t cheap, but for bars, the increase in keg yield alone would pay for the unit in just 10 kegs. For home use, man, do I want one. Not only would it solve my foam issues, but imagine having that on top of the kegerator at home.
Bottoms Up is not only a fascinating product, a potentially better mousetrap for the beer world, but it’s a local product. The company moved to their northwest side location largely because of location. They’d started in Seattle, but shipping costs and travel got to be an issue. Indy is perfect because of location, but the vibrant beer scene certainly helps.
Be sure to check out Bottoms Up’s website and try to find their mobile unit around town. They’ll be a fixture at Indy Eleven tailgates, using the unit they have built into their Caprice Station Wagon!
The big beer news of the week was the announcement that HopCat would be entering the market with a massive new beer-focused pub in Broad Ripple. HopCat says they’ll have 130 taps at their restaurant which will be located in the new Broad Ripple parking deck. It’s certainly a key space to fill for that location and could be a nice addition.
Of course, they’ll be close to both Three Wise Men and Twenty Tap, but the beer market in Indy is seeming to be very elastic. HopCat only has a couple locations, both in Michigan, but the concept is hardly unique. We’re seeing more and more beer-focused, multi-tap restaurants around the country, expanding in relation to the expanding craft beer scene.
HopCat’s menu has taken some hits, but it seems to have things people want, including “Crack Fries”, sold by the pound. I may have to consult with my cardiologist before I order those, but we’ll see whether or not the local beer market supports HopCat and if HopCat supports the local beer market. In Michigan, Yelp reviews ping them for having too many national brands, though they do have an extensive local selection as well.
The restaurant is scheduled to open this summer.
Dark Lord Day should be an Indiana holiday. Beer lovers from around the country come for one of the top beers in the country for its extremely limited availability. Dark Lord is a great beer, but it’s the cachet of being so limited that helps it. Three Floyds has learned this, doing a similar thing with Zombie Dust, though it’s possible to find that around town from time to time.
Three Floyds is expanding at it’s Munster facility and adding a distilling operation, though there are rumors they’ve been tinkering with that for a while. Dark Lord Whiskey? Yes, it’s possible. With Lagunitas and a likely outpost of Stone coming to Indiana, Three Floyds is expanding to not only keep up with demand, but to keep up with the Joneses. We’ll have to see who else can expand and keep growing market share as the sheer number of breweries in the state increases.