How to build a beer tap handle display for your home bar.
I bought 11 beer tap handles a few weeks ago. I honestly don’t know how to start this article any other way. I met a trader, (The Beer Sign Guy) that I found from a Google search, for a couple of beer signs and he rolled out 3 tubs of beer tap handles. Every single tap handle he pulled out of those Rubbermaid tubs seemed to hold some special meaning to me. It didn’t take long before that “buying fever” swept over. When I awoke from my trance, I found myself walking out of his house with 11 precious tap handles. Clutching the taps close to my chest, I was already trying to figure out how to display these in my home bar.
Problem: Mount bar tap handles that will look like they are actually in a brew pub.
Prototype & Design
I researched everything I could find off the Internet and soon got frustrated. I even searched Pinterest. I was desperate (I deleted my browsing data). Everything I found was from an actual bar or mounted to a board. I was going to have invent my own solution. Meanwhile my taps were collecting dust, looking stupid on my bar.
I realized the only way to have a credible looking display was to recreate an actual bar. I found some design ideas off the internet that had utilized various large diameter pipes. Substantial taps needed to go on a large diameter pipe, it was as simple as that. I created a mock-up with 2″ PVC. The tap was held on with a galvanized fence post clamp (the clamp is used in the final design). I was gaining confidence.
Solution: Use over-sized black pipe that borrows heavily from the steampunk genre. Mount to the wall to save bar space.
I went to Menards after work because I go there anyway, the store is my fun happy place. I knew they would have lots of alternate material. Sure enough, all of my fittings were there (all 2″ diameter);
Floor flange, T-fitting, 24″ black pipe, 18″ black pipe, nipple pipe 3″ length
This is crazy heavy awkward pipe and I quickly gained nothing but respect for those professionals that use this material everyday. It’s heavy, dirty, gritty – everything about it screams or rather growls in a low guttural sound – home bar or man cave. Assembling this material however demands a lot of effort. Getting all of the pipe and fitting to line square required a vise, wrenches and a ladder!
T-fittings, pipes and flanges were all assembled on a flat level bench.
I decided to mount this to the wall. This was a compromise as a bar would likely have this mounted near or on the bar table itself. My compromise actually saved a lot of bar space and still put it in plain view of my “patrons”.
It can’t be stated enough just how important proper bracing is for this heavy item. I used 5/16 galvanized bolts and reinforced the mounting area in the wall with extra 2x4s.
To prevent the drywall from compression crushing, I added a backerboard between the pipe flanges and the drywall. It’s heavy so I had a buddy (wedding beer Tony) help with mounting this to the wall.
Once everything was assembled, mounted and secure it was time to add clamps (re-purposed fence post clamps). An over-sized nut is used at the bottom as a spacer and a 3/8″ bolt/nut is used to actually connect to the tap.
My first bar tap is installed !
Hooray! Now let’s have a beer.
Note – Tom the Beer Sign Guy would love to hear from you;