Pull Your Own Pints At The Thirsty Bear

Ben Norum
By Ben Norum Last edited 76 months ago
Pull Your Own Pints At The Thirsty Bear

You build your own furniture because it makes it cheaper. Before you head to the airport, you check in online because it’s faster. When you go to the supermarket you scan your own shopping because you like arguing with electronic women who think you’ve bagged double the weight you ought to

We are in a D-I-Y era.

With the opening yesterday evening of The Thirsty Bear at Waterloo, self-service has come to the service industry, with London’s first pull-your-own-pint pub.

The venue, which replaces the old man friendly Stamford Arms, is the first venture by the appropriately named Robot Pub Group, and though we’ve been made aware of this place in Manchester which uses a similar concept, it’s a brand new one to us.

Each table is fitted with a mounted iPad and several beer taps. On entering the pub, you start a tab and are given a swipe-card to activate the iPad and taps. Your bill is automatically collated depending on what you drink, measured to the 0.1 of a pint.

It’s understandably not feasible to have a tap of each beer on every table, so most have just two. However, by logging out of the system and relocating table, you’re able to take your pick of everything on offer. So long as whoever’s sitting on the other table doesn’t mind, of course.

There’s no escaping the fact that it’s a novelty, but it’s a fun one. And anyone who’s ever queued up for 25 minutes to buy a round of drinks on a Friday night will understand the potential usefulness of having your beer already at the table. The iPads also allow you to order bottled beers, wine, cocktails and food without leaving your seat. And should you need some entertainment, you can play a track from the online jukebox for 20p. Games are apparently on the horizon, too.

Now, for all the reasons listed above, we really, really want to love this place. But we do have a problem - the drinks on offer. The fact there’s no ales on tap is understandable, given the skill involved in pouring a decent pint, and the difficulty of hooking a pump system up to the iPad electronics. However, we do think they could go a bit better than Amstel, Magners and Aspall. Belgian lagers, for example, or a quality product like Meantime, and some less usual ciders. Even the bottled beers at the bar are run-of-the-mill.

We’d like to see The Thirsty Bear attract a discerning, beer-loving crowd who are as inexplicably excited about pouring their own beer as we were, but if the juice on offer doesn’t meet expectations then it’s likely to be a one-off visit. Still, it’s early days and there’s glitches to overcome, so perhaps it’s wise to start small. We’ll certainly be back to check on the progress soon. We’d just love a bit more variety on tap, please Thirsty Bear folk. Then you could become one of our favourite pubs in London...

The Thirsty Bear is at 62 Stamford Street, SE1 9LX, ‘behind’ the Southbank close to Waterloo station. Petition them for more drinks on Twitter @TheThirstyBear.

Last Updated 31 January 2012


there is a bar in seville that does this.. with the added bonus of displaying a screen of the totals that each table has consumed... giving it something of a competative element.

if they did that in the uk it could get messy.



Vixxy P

This looks amazing!


Not sure about this one. Quite like the idea but I totally agree about the drink choices being rather dismal. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts.

Bermondsey James

Rubbish beer selection, I want to pour my own ale dammit! AND when I went on Sunday the pumps weren't even working... so I went to the King's Arms on Roupell St which is 100x cosier!


Met my girlfriend in this place last night after work, poured myself a Heineken while my girlfriend ordered a raspberry mojito from the iPad. Pretty cool place and good idea, worth checking out!

Alexander van Terheyden

This place is going to be awesome - can't wait to visit!


Appreciate the feedback guys. We do have a couple of glitches but things are improving every day. On the beer front we'd love to do some more interesting beers, though unfortunately we are not completely free of tie so don't have a full choice in this area. We will be keeping track of what s popular and what is not of course, and will see what options we have to improve the range in a few weeks when we look to swap something out, so do come back and see. On the cider front we have already been discussing with one of our suppliers to bring in some more interesting options as soon as they have them in, including a real cider on the bar.Bermondsey James, sorry the taps weren't working when you came in on Sunday, we were working on an issue we had had on our first night, so they were down for a short period. We'd love to pour our own ale as well but unfortunately the technology doesn't really allow this - we do always have real ales available at the bar, or for ordering on your iPad, so hope you try us again.CheersThe Thirsty Bear team


A group of six of us visited last night and left after the first drink.  There was broken furniture piled in the entrance, the bar was freezing cold (everyone had their coats on), the bar smelled damp and of bleach, and the staff seemed pre-occupied. The pint of "Courage" (!?) I had was dismal and when the barman poured it, it had no head whatsoever.  Looks like they have a lot of issues to resolve

Phil @ The Thirsty Bear

Sorry you had a bad experience Paul. We've taken all your points on board and I'm confident these are now resolved, so if you give us another go hopefully you should find things a lot better. Do let us know either way as we're always looking to improve.


I had the BBQ Bear burger and it has scarred me for life. You guys have ruined burgers for me. I am sorry to say but you should stop serving these things you call burgers.