Handle This: Exploring the Fascinating World of Beer Tap Handles

Handle This: Exploring the Fascinating World of Beer Tap Handles


Beer tap handles are an essential part of the drinking experience. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and can be made from a range of materials like wood, metal, and plastic. Not only do they serve a functional purpose of dispensing the beer, but they can also be great works of art that showcase the brand identity of a brewery. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of beer tap handles to explore their history, design, and impact on the brewing industry.

The History of Beer Tap Handles

Beer taps have been around for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that the idea of tap handles was introduced. Before that, beer was often dispensed directly from the keg or barrel, or through the use of simple spigots. However, as brewing technology improved, it became necessary to have a more controlled method of dispensing beer to customers.

The first beer taps were little more than simple metal levers attached to the top of the keg. These levers were pulled forward to dispense the beer, then pushed back again to stop the flow. However, as the industry grew, so did the need for better branding and marketing. This led to the development of custom-shaped tap handles that could represent the personality and identity of a particular brewery or beer.

The Art of Designing Beer Tap Handles

Today, beer tap handles come in all shapes and sizes, from simple and plain to complex and ornate. Designers use a variety of materials to create handles, including wood, metal, plastic, and even glass. But what exactly goes into designing a great tap handle?

First, it’s important to consider the branding and messaging of the brewery. What makes them unique and different from their competitors? Next, designers must think about the practicality of the handle. Is it easy to use? Does it fit comfortably in the hand?

Finally, designers must consider the aesthetic qualities of the handle. Does it look good? Is it eye-catching and distinct? Ultimately, a great tap handle is one that is instantly recognizable, communicates the brand’s values, and stands out from the crowd.

The Impact of Beer Tap Handles on the Brewing Industry

Beer tap handles aren’t just a pretty accent to a bar or restaurant. They actually play a crucial role in the brewing industry. When a brewery creates a unique tap handle design, it sets the brand apart from competitors and creates a sense of loyalty and identity among customers.

Furthermore, customers are more likely to try a beer if it has an interesting or eye-catching tap handle. This is why breweries invest a lot of time and energy into designing handles that not only look great but also function well.

In some cases, tap handles have even become collectibles. Some enthusiasts will go to great lengths to acquire rare or unique tap handles, which can become highly sought after items in the beer community.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can tap handles affect the taste of the beer?

A: No, tap handles have no effect on the taste of the beer. Their main function is to control the flow of beer from the keg to the glass.

Q: Are there any regulations around designing tap handles?

A: Yes, there are regulations around the size and shape of tap handles in some states. For example, in California, tap handles cannot be larger than 10 inches in length.

Q: Do all breweries have custom-designed tap handles?

A: No, not all breweries have custom-designed tap handles. Some use simple, generic handles provided by the distributor. However, many breweries see the value in having custom handles that represent their brand and personality.


Beer tap handles are often overlooked, but they play a vital role in the brewing industry. They are a reflection of the brewery’s brand and personality, and can be great works of art in their own right. Whether you’re a casual drinker or a serious beer enthusiast, take a moment to appreciate the fascinating world of beer tap handles next time you’re at the bar.

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