The Bucket Trade and the pour-your-own-beer phenomenon

A new twist on a deliciously classic concept.

When you’re a husband-and-wife beer-world-loving duo, it only makes sense to open up a craft beer business of your own. Aimee and James Hartle, co-owners of the Bucket Trade, a three-year-old craft beer bar located in Chester, did just that, changing the craft beer scene of the Southside forever.

Their original goal of the Bucket Trade was to first of all, quench the thirst of the domestic-beer-saturated Southside bar patrons. But second of all, they wanted to create a safe, nonjudgmental community for beer geeks, wannabe beer geeks, and even those who know nothing about beer. But their plan wasn’t necessarily welcomed with encouragement.

According to Aimee Hartle, “During the construction process everyone was adamant that we are crazy for doing this in Chester and it was destined to fail. Seriously, everyone made sure to let us know their opinion on our future; contractors, Chesterfield County employees, distributors, onlookers, everyone.”

Craft beer seemed to be such a city-centered concept; why would anybody out in Chester be interested in frivolous things like Belgians and hops and non-chilled tulip glasses? But Aimee and James Hartle didn’t listen to the bystanding pessimists and followed through with their aspirations.

Two years later, the Bucket Trade in Chester progressed so “poorly” (no JK, it was super successful–even them non-city dwellers love craft beer, turns out) that they opened up an off-premise location in Petersburg, selling bottles and growler fills.

So let this serve as an informative piece on a local restaurant as well as a lesson to not listen to negative naysayers in your life.

What’s in a name?

If all of your buckets are dirty and worn out and you’re thinking this would be a good place to trade them in, well…keep your old buckets and bad puns at home. The Bucket Trade is named after the pre-prohibition practice of filling buckets and delivering them to the thirsty masses, since bottling and canning wasn’t a thing back then.

When a craft beer bar loves a bottle shop very much

After about one year, the original Bucket Trade location became too overcrowded with zealous patrons (“destined to fail” indeed), so this year, the Hartle duo decided to merge both the Chester beer bar with the Petersburg bottle shop to form the Bucket Trade two-point-oh.

Both of the locations have closed and are moving this month to a different spot in the charming, up-and-coming town of Petersburg; perfect for beer lovers (since there are already two breweries in the area, with likely more to come), and history lovers (the new Bucket Trade building is almost 200 years old!) and movie buffs (enjoy happy hour in the same city where that Lincoln movie was filmed! The Spielberg one, not the vampire one). It’s targeted to open later in May, and will have the craft beer tap list and great food of the Chester location, plus the bottle selection and growler fills of the Petersburg location, plus this innovative pour-your-own-beer tap system of the future.

Just like an adult soda fountain

The Bucket Trade is implementing Richmond’s first self-service beer taps. This PourMyBeer system is actually totally brilliant, as it allows patrons to pour their own beers at their leisure, with as much or as little of whichever type of beer they want. Customers start a tab, and receive a beer card to use on the tap system. They can sample beers by creating a flight, or pour a full serving. Or blend beers into one glass like Sweet Frog fro yo.1

Then once the card has run out of money, the taps will cut off until it’s reloaded.

Which means, as long as you keep reloading the card, you can drink as much beer as you want and get belligerent without those pesky staff members noticing, right!? Well, that’s the other thing about this tap system. It’s able to monitor how much each customer is spending and pouring. So after a designated amount, the system will deactivate, signifying the first time you’ve ever been cut off by a machine.

The staff can still allow you to reload your card, but that’s up to them.

States like Oregon, North Carolina, and California have boasted pour-your-own-beer systems like this one, and Richmond has had pour-your-own-wine taps, but! This is the first in the area for beer.


You Petersburg residents have a new thing to look forward to! And you non-Petersburg residents who don’t mind driving to Petersburg have a new thing to check out! And you people who love craft beer have a new concept to try! Y’all, the craft beer world is a crazily evolving world.

  1. Chocolate raspberry salted caramel peanut butter pomegranate cheesecake, waddup. 
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Rachel Marsh

Rachel Marsh wishes brunch was more than a weekly occurrence.

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