Picturing an automated taproom, it’s easy to imagine a sterile place devoid of humanity and monitored by an android bouncer.
This will not be the case at Bru, a new beer bar opening at 5 p.m. today at 132 N. 8th St.
“No,” co-owner Debbie Kessler promises. “That would be terrifying.”
Boise’s new self-serve pub has actual flesh-and-blood staff — a hostess, a beer expert and a couple of pizza cooks. But if you need a cold one at Bru, you stroll over to the beer wall and pour one yourself. Or talk your buddy into doing it for you.
The intriguing dynamic about Bru, which takes over a former Jamba Juice space Downtown, is that it’s designed to foster interaction. Customers are encouraged to review beers on the Untappd app. Three flat-screens display results in the taproom, which will handle up to 30 customers inside and 28 outside. “You can rate the beer and it will appear on TV,” Kessler says.
Bru celebrates community, too. All 28 taps of beer — and two taps of cider — are from Idaho, with an emphasis on the Boise beer scene.
“It’s all about supporting the local craft beer scene here,” she says. “If you’re a tourist, you can come in and try a huge local experience. If you go to a regular place, you’re going to be able to get one or two beers. Here, you can try all 30, because you can pour an ounce of each one.”
At Bru, you load up a prepaid card, then use it to purchase beer by the ounce. Wine drinkers who have visited Bodovino’s two Treasure Valley locations are familiar with the concept. So are fans of the new Flying Pie in Nampa and The Stockyard in Mountain Home. Both recently installed self-pour beer walls.
Bru’s current beer prices range from 36 cents per ounce (Boise Brewing Hip Check IPA) to 57 cents (Sockeye Brewing Sour Puss). Converted to pint pricing, that’s $5.76 and $9.12. If you think in comparative terms, consider that pint glasses filled by busy bartenders often contain closer to 14 ounces of beer (or less) after the head dies down.
Need some food to soak up the Gem State suds? Bru has a menu of ready-made 14-inch pizzas, delivered quickly. They start at $12 for a cheese pizza, and they’re cooked at 650 degrees.
“It’s a convection oven on steroids,” Kessler says. “It will make your pizza in 2 minutes, 10 seconds.”
For beer geeks with a taste for Idaho breweries, about the only thing missing at Bru is a reason to leave.
“It’s about coming in,” Kessler says, “being social, hanging out in the beer room.”
▪ Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Online: Facebook.com/BruTapRoom.