For any craft beer bar owner, or any bar owner exploring the varieties of draft beer, this is truly the ultimate question. How much is too much? There are many craft bars seemingly stocking up and offering “75 taps!” as part of their advertising scheme, but can you really keep up with that many? It all depends on a few factors.
This is a given, but many bar owners make the mistake of offering too many taps, that they simply don’t have the space and draft maintenance to keep fresh. If you’re offering a large amount of taps, you should be able to operate them all properly. If not, you run the risk of problems with the beer temperature, taste, and even the wrong mixtures of gas in the line. Bottom line, if you don’t have enough room to offer every single draft beer fresh, and flavorful, cut back on quantity, and focus on quality.
The entire concept of visiting a bar with 20+ taps, is you’re expecting variety. Too many bar owners make the mistake of jumping on the numbers game, only to serve 6 IPA’s, and the rest domestic. There’s no need to have three taps of Budweiser, if you’re offering a large amount of taps. The expectation from your customers is variety. If you’re not offering much, you could probably cut back on a few, depending on the amount of business you do. Remember, choice is the spice of life! Also it is good to note, that some beers are just better bottled. Barleywine or other higher alcohol beers, really benefit from aging in bottles.
The amount of taps you offer can also depend on how busy your bar is. You could have 100 taps, but if you’re consistently busy, the beer will always pour fresh. You could also have 20 taps, and due to lack of business, it goes bad. The amount of taps is entirely incumbent on the amount of people you expect to come through your door everyday. If your beer is always flavorful, customers will return every time, no matter how many taps you offer.
It is not fair to customers to advertise you have 40 taps, if only 20 are flowing. In fact, this is likely to turn away customers as it appears as false advertising. If you find that you are generally only using a percentage of the taps you are advertising because of line maintenance, perhaps you should cut down. As one beer blogger put it:
“Places where I will most likely order bottled beer and cans instead of draft: bars with more than 15 taps. While some of these places like the Mayor of Old Town in Fort Collins pride themselves on regular line maintenance, most can’t keep up with the extensive line cleaning necessary. In these cases, pass me a local bottle or can.”—Becki Kregoski (Bites ‘n Brews)
Now that you’ve decided on how many taps to have and how frequently to rotate, how do you keep up with managing and marketing them? TapHunter is a program thousands of bars are using that features one easy dashboard where you can update your live beer list on your website, social media, print menus, digital drink boards and more in just one click. It’s an easy way to manage all of your marketing in one place. Especially if you’re changing out 30 different taps a month.
Overall, when choosing how many taps you offer, the urge is to generally go high. You should always take into consideration your space, maintenance, amount of business, and variety. Only then, can you offer your customers the freshest, most flavorful beers in town!