Can Your Tap Handles Sell Your Beer?

For Stephen ​Demczuk at RavenBeer, it all started when a tavern in the Fells Point section of Baltimore called The Horse You Came In On wanted the brewery’s beer on tap, but it also wanted a handle with Edgar Allan Poe on it. The tavern’s claim to fame was that it was the last pub that Poe visited, so it would be a great selling point for the Poe-themed brewery to have his likeness on top of a handle to help move some beer.

“Months later and many variations, we came up with a book as the main part [of the handle] and each brand (named after a Poe story or poem) will have its own book,” explained Demczuk.

The book, the head of Poe and its size makes a RavenBeer handle stand out, he added.

“Also, customers are immediately attracted to the head, whether they know who it is or not,” Demczuk said. “Bars that have several on tap at once say they really stand out.”

It was by intention. And the brewery recently not only racked up wins for its beers at the World Beer Championships, but RavenBeer took​ Best Tap Handle at ​the 2018 World Championships Beer Packaging Competition from the Beverage Testing Institute​ in Chicago​ for its The Imp and the Madhouse Oyster Stout handle. ​The brewery also took gold best paper label and best case.

The process of creating the Poe handles took several months, including hand carving the head mold.

“​The hardest ​things ​was what to place Poe’s head on​,” Demczuk said, noting they tried columns, post​s​, stick​s​​ and ​​​a ​baseball bat​.

“We went through everything and one day a book came to me​,” Demczuk said “These are milled from ​2x4s​.”

​RavenBeer will​ mail out tap handles blank to​ its​ distributors and allow them to place the stickers on for their needs.

​”​I always keep stickers and taps in my car in case I see a worn out tap, wrong stickers, or some cheap one supplied by the wholesaler​,” Demczuk said​.​ “My channel locks and fresh stickers are on the floor in front of the passenger’s seat.​”​

Another thing that is that KAL (cartoonist Kevin Kallaugher) suggested to RavenBeer in redeveloping the brand was to use bright colors.

“Our beer labels and handles are bright to make them stand out,” Demczuk said.

​Since they are not cheap​, RavenBeer does try to​make sure that they get the​ handles​ back​ as well​​.

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