The Lab, a new type of taproom and beverage pilot facility, opened to the public on May 1. The BevSource creation is a combination of B2B and B2C, offering both a self-pour taproom for customers and an opportunity for local breweries to test new brews anonymously before selling at their own establishments.
At The Lab, customers are able to pour their own beer at the self-pour tap wall with the assistance of "walltenders" for those who are new to the art of pouring beer. Other beverages include hard sodas, sparkling water, tea, energy drinks and children's drinks. A Red River Kitchen food truck is also onsite year-round, offering a new menu each month with weekly specials.
The tap wall is stocked with a variety of beers made onsite in the brewing lab. For a truly anonymous tasting, the beers are not labeled by brand, and customers are encouraged to provide feedback through The Lab's app, Untappd. If a beer is successful, the brewery can choose to reveal their brand and begin selling in their own taproom. If not, the secret is safe with The Lab.
If you're not a fan of the tap wall, a bar is available to order beer, nonalcoholic beverages and more.
All brews are priced per ounce anywhere between 30 and 50 cents ($5-7 per pint). Prices are dependent on the ingredients and the time it takes to brew, according to Janet Johanson, CEO of BevSource and creator of The Lab.
Johanson says her idea for the tap wall stemmed from her impatience while standing in line for beer. By pouring their own glasses, customers will be able to avoid the line at the bar, she says.
However, this theory might be disproved if you're a beer pouring rookie. The Lab staff joke that, "teaching people how to pour their own glass takes longer than just pouring it ourselves."
Once you've perfected your pour, you can order food from the onsite food truck without stepping outside. A kiosk located in the taproom allows customers to put in their orders and have it brought directly to their tables.
For groups, an event space can be rented out, which is projected to seat approximately 30 to 40 people. For larger events, the entire space can be rented out, too.
The event space has an internal garage door to separate it from the taproom for more privacy.
The Lab, which is at the intersection of Highway 280 and I-94, has plenty of free parking for customers. Though the area isn't very walkable, The Lab staff say customers can bring in their own food or have their events catered to avoid the long trek to a restaurant.