TOPEKA — You might soon be able to walk into a bar and pour yourself a beer.
Kansas senators gave first-round approval Wednesday to legislation to allow self-serve beer. The proposal would bring Kansas in line with many other states that already allow bar patrons to pour their own beer in some cases.
Customers could buy a prepaid access card when they enter a bar that would allow them to pour beer from dispensers, the bill says. They would have to show identification to prove they are 21.
The card could be used to dispense up to 32 ounces of beer. The customer could again show identification to get an additional 32 ounces.
The Senate spent little time on Senate Bill 433 on Wednesday. No senator voiced objections.
If the senators give the bill final approval, it will head to the House.
“We could find very few instances of any problems at all” in other states, said Sen. Bud Estes, R-Dodge City.
The big differences between a standard bar and a bar with self-serve beer are convenience and control, according to Zach Campbell, who owns the 417 Taphouse in Springfield, Missouri. Waiting in line for a bar’s lone bartender isn’t fun, he said.
Campbell told the Associated Press that at his bar, patrons can take their time selecting what they want or even try something new that they otherwise wouldn’t.
“It’s like a beer buffet,” Campbell said.
The legislation is part of an effort to legalize the business model of a planned downtown Topeka bar that would feature self-serve beer.
Topeka business leaders earlier this year awarded a $100,000 prize to entrepreneurs who plan to open a new bar, named Brew Bank, in downtown Topeka. It is to feature a wall of self-serve beer taps.
There was just one problem: Their business model is illegal now.
Ryan Cavanaugh, co-owner of Brew Bank, told lawmakers earlier this month that only four states don’t allow use of self-serve technology. And he noted that Kansas already allows self-serve wine.
The bill can help small businesses “stay relevant and competitive,” he said.