Getting a handle on beer sales

Adult beverage equipment is becoming an ever-growing part of the collectibles market.

Wine paraphernalia, cocktail shakers from the Art deco period, beer mugs and coasters ... All have had their collectors and sellers over the years. Now, beer tap handle art is taking its turn in the spotlight.

Just as spirits distillers have learned that the shape of, and the artwork on, their bottles helps their product stand out, tap beer providers are using both mass-produced artsy tap handles or even having them made to order for their establishments, their beers, their sports teams or whatever.

Specialty brews made in small regional or local breweries, a niche that industry analysts say grew 11% in the first six months of this year, seem to be particularly interested in artsy handles. One reason is that with meager advertising budgets, they need to find other ways to catch the eye of potential buyers. Not a bad idea, since about 10% of all beer sold in the U.S. is on draft, including kegs sold retail.

Several companies specialize in custom handle art, including Tap Handles Inc., Mark Supik & Co. and Gemelli Ceramics.

A sure sign this is becoming a national trend is that the mainstream media has picked up on the topic, witness this Associated Press report recently published in numerous newspapers and on numerous Web sites across the country.

To Dowd's Spirits Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Wine Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Brews Notebook latest entry.
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