Barracuda Taproom opened in October as the first self-pour taproom in Catawba County. They feature 42 self-pour taps powered and supported by iPourIt!

*Originally published on Hickory Record by Virginia Annable

April Ledford greets guests at Barracuda Taproom with a wristband and a set of instructions.

Ledford, the manager of the new bar on N.C. 127 North in Hickory, leads first-time guests from the front counter across the small room to a long wall of draft beer tap after tap — all there for the customers to pour themselves.

Barracuda Taproom, opened in October by Scott Beatty, allows guests to pour as much or as little as they want to drink. With a simple touch of a wristband to the screen above each tap and a pull of the handle, guests can help themselves to any of the 42 beers and four wines.

It’s the first self-pour taproom in Catawba County. The nearest in scale and offering are in Charlotte, which is where Beatty got his inspiration, he said.

“I was impressed by those,” Beatty said. So he decided to bring something similar to Hickory. “I just thought it something unique.”

The taproom sits in the former Jersey Mike’s Subs location in the Belle Hollow Shopping Center, but the space looks nothing like it once did, Ledford said. Beatty put down new floors, new square wood panels on the walls, an accent of stonework along one wall and the sleek set of 46 taps on the other wall, the most taps that could fit in the space, he said.

The floor is filled with long, community tables made of natural cut wood, which Beatty sees as a key addition to the bar’s warm atmosphere. There are several two-person tables for those looking for privacy, but Beatty is a fan of the long tables which offer the communal feel of a bar. The social aspect of the taproom is one of Beatty’s favorite parts, he said. The taproom is the perfect place to meet new people and be a part of the community, he said.

The bar is seeing growth in customers in Catawba and from other counties, Beatty said. He thinks the chance to try new beers and pour it yourself is something people don’t often get to do, which is a draw, he said. Most people only pour a few ounces at a time and try several different beers while they’re visiting Barracuda.

“It gives you the opportunity to just try new beers,” Beatty said.

Beatty and Ledford themselves step out of their comfort zones and try new beers, often finding new favorites. The taps change almost daily, so there are always new offerings to try, Beatty said.

The beer is priced by the ounce, and prices range from 25 cents to 82 cents per ounce at the highest. Wine goes up to $1 per ounce.

Beatty also owns two vape shops in the area — which is where the Barracuda name comes from, he said. After a long day searching for a name for his vape shop, he resigned himself to his office where he had a wall-mounted barracuda fish and found inspiration.

After years of considering opening a self-pour taproom, he decided to take the plunge, so he carried the Barracuda name into the business. To get started, he reached out to his favorite bartender for advice: Ledford. She jumped at the chance to be involved in a bar that offered something a little different, she said.

“I liked the idea. I liked the concept, and I wanted to be a part of it,” she said.

Ledford hopes others see the promise she does in Barracuda Taproom: the chance to get out of your comfort zone and find something new.

Barracuda Taproom is located on the northern end of the Belle Hollow Shopping Center at 3018 N. Center St. in Hickory. For more information, visit the Barracuda Taproom Facebook page.

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