Taking On Tap Takeovers

Tap takeovers play a significant role at the Cloverleaf Tavern in Caldwell, New Jersey, including about 24 “mini” events throughout the year.
Tap takeovers play a significant role at the Cloverleaf Tavern in Caldwell, New Jersey, including about 24 “mini” events throughout the year. Ryan Dorchak

Even for Green Flash Brewing Co. out of San Diego, a brewery that’s broadened its distribution territory from around a dozen states to all 50 in the past three years, tap takeovers remain a great way to captivate new customers, an engagement that benefits the restaurant hosting the tap takeover as much as it does the brewery.

“It’s probably the most critical thing we do. It helps get the word out,” says Jim Kenny, vice president of sales, adding that Green Flash will generally try to offer both core beers and specialty/seasonal offerings for takeover events when available.

The significance Green Flash assigns to these tap takeover events is not unusual in the growing craft beer industry. As breweries continue to expand their distribution networks and restaurants look to add brands, tap takeovers and other similar opportunities are becoming more and more common.

These tap takeover events, by many definitions, can be as simple as a restaurant dedicating a few taps to a small brewery on a given night.

Or they can scale up to beer dinners or ticketed events, while switching out every one of the restaurant’s draft lines.

Regardless of size, Kenny emphasizes, “If you can tie it into a lifestyle event, that makes it even better.” He also notes that it’s important to allow the restaurant’s staff proper time to become educated on the product.

Kenny ensures his representatives speak with the restaurant’s servers and bartenders about their beer. The goal: “Make it an experience for the consumer, so they look forward to the next event,” he adds.

Better Practices

Pizzeria Paradiso operates three locations—two in Washington, D.C., and one in Alexandria, Virginia.

It has incorporated tap takeovers into the beverage programs since around 2004.

When we spoke, Josh Fernands, Pizzeria Paradiso’s executive beverage director, was in the process of finishing up its “JulyPA” event. “It’s probably the biggest tap takeover that we do,” he says, “because it takes up all of our lines at all of the locations.” Limited by style more than brewery, the event includes session IPAs, imperial IPAs, and even a habanero IPA.

Pizzeria Paradiso generally will host one brewery-based tap takeover a month, rotating between its three locations. In most cases for these events, it aims to have at least 10 draft handles occupied by a specific brewery, or by a particular style group. For breweries with only a small number of beers, Pizzeria Paradiso arranges specialty releases in advance. Happy hour pricing still applies during tap takeovers, and it will even schedule events to coincide with a location’s hours.

One of its notable tap takeovers is the Red vs. White event, which sees the Georgetown location pouring beers aged in red wine barrels, while the Dupont Circle location features a selection of beers aged in white wine and clear spirits barrels. “It brought out a lot of people who actually went to both locations,” Fernands reflects. “It becomes relatively, surprisingly complicated. Even when it just comes to doing the keg shuffle at the end of the night.”


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