Beer-drinking Czechs develop beer-vending machines

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A list of great Czech inventions could include everything from the contact lens to lager beer and now...the beer vending machine can be added to the list. After a six-month trial, the world famous brewer, Pilsner Urquell, has just announced it's launching more of its new beer vending machines which are similar to soft drinks machines, although they read customer ID's and its claimed they only sell to people over 18. With the network expanding a beer vending machine could soon be coming to a location near you.

The pivoautomaty, as they have come to be known, look like any other vending machine, with one key difference; as well as feeding money into the machine, you also have to swipe your national ID card through it, if you want to buy a beer. David Polnar was one of the pivoautomat's inventors:

"We can recognise a customer's age from their ID cards and passports. And the system works with all European and worldwide passports and ID cards also. This means we can recognise whether foreigners and tourists are older than 18 as well, and if they are, then they too can buy beer from our machine."

Mr. Polnar's firm took their pivoautomat to Pilsner Urquell. The brewer liked what they saw and embarked upon a six-month trial of the machine. Vladimir Jurina is the brewery's corporate brand manager, he explained why he went for idea:

"Because it was another point-of-sale for us. It is important to have other possibilities for us to sell our product. We would like to place the machines in places which are not normal outlets for our product."

Beer vending machines have been installed in hotels, sports venues and university dormitories. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vending machines have enjoyed their biggest success amongst students:

"Figures show that the most successful machines from our point of view were placed in campuses and hostels, from which we sell more than 1,000 cans monthly."

Mr. Jurina has been pleased with sales over the trail period:

"In total, we have sold I think around 150 hectolitres, more than 150 hectolitres of beer through our vending machines. This amounts to around 30,000 cans. And now we have around 50 vending machines, but I have to say that when we started with this trial in April we only had 5."

The figures sound impressive, but is the pivoautomat's designer, Mr. Polnar, surprised by his machine's success?

"No, no, not in the Czech Republic, because the Czech Republic is world-renowned when it comes to beer consumption, and Czech people like beer."

Pilsner have the rights to the pivoautomat for the next five years, but Mr. Polnar and his firm are working on a version for export - so who knows - the beer dispenser could yet be set for world domination.