Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Collections: Beer Tap Handles

If you have followed Team Tizzel since Day 1 you may have noticed we collect things: Disney pins, Vinylmation figures, and animation art items were featured in prior posts. In this post we'll look at another collection we have: beer tap handles.

Beer tap handles are used to label the type of beer on draft at a bar or restaurant. Brewers got savvy over the years and used these once generic items to further market their product. They could convey the brands message or image, or perhaps fit into the bar's theme like sports bar or English pub. Going to a bar like Yard House is what Dave calls "window shopping".

Our collection has lacked some attention over the past few years, mainly because we filled the two shelves Holly made to display our tappers. All tap handles fit an industry-standard bolt size. Holly and Dave stained the shelves, then Holly drilled in the bolts since Dave can't use any tools properly. The neglect has gotten worse as evidenced by the fact that our collection also functions as our race medal display rack.

Some highlights

Long before eBay and the Internet explosion taps were hard to come by. Dave was searching for this Key West Lager tap during most of the1990's and early 00's. He joined bulletin boards, kept searching eBay, tried bribing bartenders in bars to "misplace" their handle. Then one day the brewer opened online retailing and offered the taps for sale. Not that interesting of a story, but Dave got his handle.

Microbreweries and brewpubs sometimes sell tap handles in their little shops. These items make great souvenirs. We got the Pump House tap during our trip to Colorado last year.
Holly got Dave this monkey handle for a gift a few years ago. It was from a custom tap maker and fits with some of our tropical themed items (is a motif a collection?).

The current "holy grail" for us is a Captain Tony's Red tap from Captain Tony's Saloon in Key West (check out how old school their website is). The handles are generic wood with stickers on them, but they are only available at one place and that place is one of our favorite bars that holds lots of great memories.

Want to start your own collection? eBay is the place.  To sort through some of the garbage try using search terms like "rare" or "unique"

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