Tap rotation debate goes global

Brewers Association director Paul Gatza. Photo © Jason E. Kaplan

Paul Gatza of Brewers Association. Photo © Jason E. Kaplan

Bars increasingly rotating their beer taps prompted further discussion at the US Craft Brewers Conference, while back in Australia, GABS and Local Taphouse co-founder Steve Jeffares has offered his thoughts on the issue.

American beer writer Alan Moen last week suggested craft breweries aggrieved at losing their dedicated tap points were displaying the same kind of attitude as the big brewers have in years past.

Brewers Association director Paul Gatza responded that while constant rotation may be a “pain in the neck” for certain brewers and distributors, the market will decide on the issue.

“Restaurants and taverns are free to differentiate as they choose to and most of the time you would think a good restaurant is one that’s listening to their customers,” Gatza told Moen, at the CBC press conference in Portland.

“If their customers are looking for rotating handles then that’s the way their restaurant is going to operate.

“It’s a free market – I don’t really think there’s much we can do about it, except from the standpoint of encouraging proper draught line cleaning practices – when it switches from one brand to another it’d be great to have that line cleaned,” he said.

Rotating ‘for the sake of it’
The quality of the beer should be paramount, rather than just that it is new and different, said GABS’ Steve Jeffares, in response to Brooklyn Brewery CEO Eric Ottaway’s recent comments about tap rotation.

“I agree mostly with what Eric said in the article. I do think that rotating for the sake of it can be a bit overdone at times,” Jeffares told Radio Brews News.

Jeffares said some venues are putting on imported beers just because they are novel, with little regard for the beer’s quality and its condition on arrival.

“What I’m starting to see is beers coming in from breweries in America… there’s dozens of beers in Australia that are better than some of these beers,” he said.

“I think that venues are putting on any beer that comes in from wherever, just for the sake of having something to rotate on.”

But Jeffares said he disagreed with Ottaway’s suggestion that just because a beer might become a venue’s best seller, it is the best solution for that venue.

“If we put on Carlton Draught in both Taphouses, it would not surprise me if in four weeks’ time it was the biggest selling beer. That’s by virtue of the fact that a lot of people that come to the Taphouse are not serious beer fans, they come here because it’s a nice place to be,” he said.

“Just because a beer is going to be your biggest seller, I don’t think that’s necessarily a reason for your venue to put it on. I think what is important is that they put on approachable, recognisable styles on.”

Radio Brews News Episode 49 is available here.

Tap rotation craze wearing thin, says Brooklyn Brewery boss

Exploring the breweries of Portland: A Brews News guide

Back to Historical