Tapping Into Changing Tap Handles

Innovation by | Oct 2009 | Issue #33

The times, they are a-changin’. And in a lot of tap houses, the beers are changing even faster, as demand for craft beer grows.

It takes time to change a new keg. Add to it even more time to take off the former beer’s tap from your beer line, find the tap handle for the new keg and put it in place. Or, worse yet, have to scribble the beer name on a piece of paper and stick it to the old tap handle—all while thirsty beer fans are lining up for the freshly tapped beer.

One Austin, Texas, man has a simple solution for barkeeps who are tired of fumbling around for the next tap handle. Christian Lavender’s Tap Boards are as simple as ABC. And, in fact, the last time a chalkboard was this useful and practical might’ve been when you were learning your ABCs. But Tap Boards are a lot more fun, guaranteed.

The premise for Tap Boards is a simple one: Take a regular tap handle and add a tiny chalkboard surface where the brewery and beer names normally would go. Then you find a piece of chalk and write the beer information on the board. When the new keg is tapped, wipe that beer name off and add the new one.

“With a Tap Board, it’s easy for bar and pub owners to feature seasonal or rotating beers that may not come with a branded tap handle,” says Lavender. “It’s also a smart idea to keep Tap Boards on hand in case one of your branded tap handles breaks.”

Lavender, who also has a number of other beer-related businesses, including Kegerators.com, says Tap Boards’ beginnings were just as humble as the ubiquitous chalkboard of his (and pretty much everybody’s) youth.

“It all started when a friend of mine walked up to my home kegerator and asked, ‘What’s on tap?’ Most of my friends know that I brew beer often, and I always have it on tap, but the generic, nameless black tap handles I had on my kegerator faucets just didn’t do the beer justice,” he says. “That was the moment I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if …?’—and the rest is Tap Boards history.”

Tap Boards also are great at beer festivals, Lavender says, because the name on the tap can be changed as quickly as kegs blow.

“Beer fests are a perfect place for the Tap Board to really come in handy. They are easy to write on and erase if you need to swap out your beers quickly,” he says.

Currently, there is one Tap Board style and size—7.5 inches high by 3.25 inches wide and 1.5 inches deep—but Lavender is developing three other sizes and is working on a number of styles. A whiteboard version is currently on the drawing board, along with options for custom laser etchings for logos and lettering.

Tap Boards retail around $35 each and are available at tapboards.com.

One piece of white chalk is included, of course. 

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