Patrons Pour Their Own Beer at Elaine’s Tap & Table in Poughkeepsie

Free-flowing fun: Do-it-yourself taps take center stage at a Poughkeepsie restaurant



elaine's tap and tablePour it on: The self-serve tap tables at Elaine’s Tap & Table allow beer lovers to draw pints of their favorite brew
Photograph courtesy of Elaine’s Tap & Table

Only a year old this past November, Elaine’s Tap & Table on Dutchess Turnpike in Poughkeepsie — in the old Gentleman Jim’s space — doesn’t have a tag line.

But if it did, we’d suggest this one: Don’t Come for the Beer, Let the Beer Come to You.

“People are still kind of shocked and amused that they can not only pour their own beer, but do it 40 feet from the bar,” says Marty Corbelli, manager of the restaurant. Indeed, Elaine’s has one of the most unique features among local beer pubs with its distinctive tap tables. There are three, each serving two different kinds of beer, usually a light and a dark. The tables allow customers to literally take control and pour their own beer. Unless reserved — and you can do so with just a couple of days notice, and request some pretty unique craft beers to boot — the tables are first-come, first-served. It’s sort of a be-your-own-bartender kind of thing.

In fact, with each of the three tables offering two different brews — making a grand total of six — there is a big social element as well: Customers have been known to sidle up to other tables to try something new. “Listen, if you walk into a bar and there are two stools open and you sit down, invariably you’re going to start talking to others around you,” says Corbelli. “That’s what the tap tables are like.”

Lest you think this is a Roman bacchanal, and you can pour to your heart’s content all night — sorry, no such luck. Here’s how it works: The taps are controlled electronically. Each patron is given a microchip that staffers affectionately call “the beer button.” The buttons are programmed to draw two 16-ounce pints. You can use the button at any of the three tables, but you are cut off after two pints — and the buttons expire every day at 3 a.m.

“At that point, we do our due diligence,” Corbelli says. “We normally go around to every table, asking if they need anything, if they want dessert, some coffee or tea. We’re making eye contact, we’re talking to them and determining whether or not we’ll reload the button for two more pints.”

Elaine’s has 28 draft lines that change constantly, including six to eight mainstays like Coors Light, Bud Light, and Guinness.

“But the majority of folks aren’t looking for traditional beers, they’re looking for something they haven’t seen before,” says Corbelli, who also notes that they have developed some “great relationships” with area breweries like Keegan Ales in Kingston, Sloop Brewing of Poughkeepsie, and Elmsford’s Captain Lawrence, among others. “It allows us to do some things like tap takeovers and fun nights like that.”

Elaine’s also has a full menu, including options for kids.

“We’re Poughkeepsie-strong,” says Corbelli. “We’re not Westchester County or Rhinebeck. Our entrées are reasonable, and our beers are great.”

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Welcome to The First Draft — a column devoted exclusively to all things beer. Yes, that’s right, from taste-tests to profiles of brewers (and homebrewers) to expert advice (hello, Craft Beer 101), we’re going county to county, city to small town to uncover all the sudsy stuff you need to know. Heck, we’ll even let you know which brewery has the coolest looking T-shirt in town. You can expect reviews, food and beer pairings, roundups, trends, expert advice, homebrewing, profiles, big beer events, best nights out.

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