Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...


Discussion in 'Northwest' started by draheim, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,110) Washington Sep 18, 2010 Verified

    So I'm walking to work in downtown Seattle this morning from my usual bus stop on 3rd Ave., heading east up Pike Street. After crossing 4th I happen to look up, above Ben Bridge jewelers, to the second-floor windows of the 4th & Pike Building (a building where, coincidentally, I worked for about 10 years) and I see nothing but beer tap handles lining every window, on the inside of the glass. On the interior walls I can see a bunch of neon signs: Stone, Firestone Walker, etc.

    After I get to work I do a little investigating. Apparently this is the headquartes of Taphandles.com, which has been in business since 1999. Apparently they do marketing and branding for breweries. Seems like kind of a random place for such a company, but it got me wondering. Does this company do marketing/branding for lots of different breweries nationwide, or primarily NW/West Coast? How long have they been @ this location? (I've worked downtown, mostly on Pike Street, for the better part of the last 15 years. This is the first time I've ever noticed them.) Which breweries use them, or other similar companies for that matter? Are there many of these kinds of companies out there that specialize primarily in beer? Percentage-wise, how many breweries handle their own graphic design vs. those that hire a company like this?

    Just curious what anyone knows about this side of the brewing world. I know nothing about it.

    P.S. wasn't sure if I should post this in the general forum or NW, but since this appears to be a local company I figured I'd start it local.
  2. distantmantra

    distantmantra Advocate (685) Washington May 23, 2011 Verified

    A buddy of mine interviewed with them a couple years ago. From what he said, they're national. He's registered here, so maybe he'll pop in and elaborate.
  3. tozerm

    tozerm Savant (410) Washington Jul 1, 2005

    The official name of the company is Taphandles Inc. It started out as a company making just taphandles but have since expanded into other beer related merchandise, primarily for breweries (as opposed to retail).

    Their HQ has always been in Seattle, they have a small manufacturing facility for lighted signs (not neons) in Woodinville, and a larger facility in China to make handles.

  4. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Advocate (525) Oregon Aug 17, 2005

    djbreezy likes this.
  5. beertunes

    beertunes Poobah (1,355) Washington Sep 24, 2007

    One of my FB friends, and someone I see regularly at beerfests in the area, works for them. They make handles for a lot of different breweries, big and small, local and international. You have undoubtedly drank many brews from their handles.
  6. djbreezy

    djbreezy Advocate (520) Washington Dec 16, 2008

    Totally didn't expect to see such a high end beer creative agency. Must be a sweet place to work.
    Eriktheipaman likes this.
  7. It was all good until that part.
    Fuck that China shit. BUY AMERICAN
    Eriktheipaman likes this.
  8. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,110) Washington Sep 18, 2010 Verified

    While I generally agree w/ the sentiment—and nothing would please me more than to see a tap handle manufacturer set up shop down in SoDo or somewhere—what if there's no such factory? What if they can make 20—or 50—tap handles in China for the price of 1 made in the USA? I doubt anyone's ever going to refuse to buy a beer because the tap handle used to pour it was made in China—even if there were some way to get this information, which there probably isn't. Just saying, it can get complicated.
    beertunes likes this.
  9. djbreezy

    djbreezy Advocate (520) Washington Dec 16, 2008

    Says the guy posting from the magical internet online computer machine that uses every conceivable chinese electronic to post this message... :rolleyes:
  10. Oh I KNOW that is the reason, don't get me wrong. But that is the point I am trying to make. There are plenty of made in USA tap handles, and this company isn't one of them
  11. Agreed. However, WOODEN tap handles could EASILY be made here in America, especially here in the PNW where we are surrounded by wood. Also quality is not always maintained when imported from China.

    If people refused to buy things made in China, then companies like this would think twice about manufacturing over there, and hey, there may even be more US jobs.

    Some things make sense to buy from China, but do we have to buy EVERYTHING from there ?

    Shit, why don't we just start brewing beer over there too.
  12. djbreezy

    djbreezy Advocate (520) Washington Dec 16, 2008

    Really? Is that what kind of conversation we're gonna turn this into? Let's talk about beer, not politics please.

    Artisan wood is not cheap FYI. Go buy the Nexus Q or something. It's like 80% US electronics. You happy?
  13. boMD

    boMD Savant (325) Oregon Feb 8, 2009

    80% US electronics and they start to fall apart.
    djbreezy likes this.
  14. tozerm

    tozerm Savant (410) Washington Jul 1, 2005

    We bought wooden taphandles, I assume made in China, from Taphandles Inc that cost close to $20 each....

    We bought acrylic taphandles, also made in China, by someone else that cost $9 each...

    I shudder to think how much we would have had to pay for the wooden taphandles if they were made in the USA. Our brewery views every handle that goes out the door to our distributors, and thus the bars, as lost forever. Anything more than $20 each is a very, very significant loss of profit.
    beertunes likes this.
  15. Fine I'll take it all back.:(
    Buy them from the cheapest, and pass on the savings to the consumer by keeping beer prices reasonable too :)
  16. Sirion

    Sirion Initiate (15) Aug 5, 2012

    Just interviewed at Taphandles, LLC and thought I would try to give a little insight into the operation. The taphandles themselves are manufactured in China, but are not outsourced. Taphandles owns the shop, employs the workers and performs the QA themselves. The handles are all hand crafted and painted, and obviously the labor is cheaper. Those artisan taphandles would be considerably more here.

    They also have a glassware printing facility in Chicago and another shop in Woodinville, WA where they build lighted (LED) signs, A-frames and other signage, props, "display enhancements" for retail, etc and just opened a second office in Portland. They do a LOT of artwork for packaging, labeling and print ads. You'd be surprised how many breweries they have as clients.