Tap handles pour beer, and they help sell it too

“Tap handles are like tiny billboards on the back of the bar.”

staff photo

Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. uses wood from trees killed by pine beetles. Left Hand Brewing Co. has its namesake left hand.

Breweries across the nation are putting similar thought into how they can draw people in using creative-looking bar taps.

“Tap handles are like tiny billboards on the back of the bar,” Sarah Sherber, an instructor for the University of Minnesota’s College of Design, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Lighthouses, birds and beards are just a few of the objects brewers are using to stand out at bars. You can see lots of examples in the video above from the Associated Press. Some of the handles are so well designed that buying one is on par with purchasing a piece of art, with prices listed for upward of $500 online.

“Sometimes the best ones are the simplest ones, that have a really memorable shape and really bold branding,” AJS Tap Handles lead designer Cole Krueger told the AP.

Krueger has a few tips of advice for creative-thinking beer makers: go no wider than three inches and stay under a pound for the knob on draft beer faucets. The goal is for handles to be able to fit next to each other and for bartenders to be able to quickly take them off if a keg runs empty.

“I need very little reason not to buy beer sometimes, and if it’s the idea (a handle) might break a faucet, unfortunately, there are thousands of other breweries I can pick from,” Milwaukee beer buyer and bartender Rob Zellermayer told the AP.

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