The Art of the Tap Takeover

Josh Augustine, February 27, 2014

With celebrations of craft beer sweeping cities throughout the nation in the form of the Beer Week, tap takeovers have become more and more common, and for good reason. What better way, after all, for a curious consumer to compare and contrast a variety of styles, in one fell swoop? What better opportunity to run the gammut of a given brewery’s offerings without the risk of ending up with 5/6ths of a sixer of something you don’t particularly care for? I mean, sure, one COULD check out the SOLID numbers on our brewery leaderboards, but I’m not here to point out the foolhardy ways of non-BeerGraphs readers.

At face value, it may seem simple to execute a tap takeover. Just put on a bunch of beers from one brewery, right? Well, kind of. The idea is that someone should be able to stroll up to the bar, be immediately able to pick up on the theme, and hopefully take interest in said theme.

Properly executing a tap takeover, though, not only takes some foresight, planning, and coordination by both bar and brewery in question, it also takes a certain grace, a certain je ne sais quoi if you will (and I will). This is especially the case in this day of pubs sporting upwards of 40 or 60 or 80 taps. It’s easy for taps, even a group of them with notable commonalities, to get lost in the shuffle and go completely unnoticed. Due to fine work by both brewery and bar, the Funkwerks tap takeover hosted by Krug Park during Omaha Beer Week served as an example of what a tap takeover can and should be.

Funkwerks is a brewery which specializes in Belgian styles and is based in the craft beer hotbed of Fort Collins, Colorado. What sets them apart is that they have decided to not follow the well-trodden path of brewing a wheat beer, a pale, an IPA, and a porter, with maybe a farmhouse during the spring and an amber during the fall. Instead they’ve decided to focus largely on the saison with nods to many other Belgian styles, with their standard saison, simply named Saison, and Tropic King, an imperial saison, being among their flagship offerings.

One might think that this sort of focus might make a tap takeover even more difficult to effectively execute. After attending the Funkwerks event, I can’t help but think that this actually worked in the favor of Funkwerks, as this tap takeover was an impressive showcase of a wide range of the delicate and subtle flavors that they are producing.

Funkwerks pulled out a whole bunch of stops for this event, sending several kegs of beer that as far as I can tell were only previously available at their taproom and/or in bottles sold only at the brewery. Among those available were an Oud Bruin, Bourbon Barrel Aged Quad, Son of Nothing Dubbel, Deceit Golden Ale, Nelson Sauvin (a single hopped saison with Nelson, yes I can see most of you quivering right now), and a version of Tropic King aged in Peach Whiskey Barrels were all on display, proudly strutting their subtleties about the bar.

In total, there were 10 Funkwerks beers available, taps for each bearing a simple yet identifiable Funkwerks logo, in a visible row squarely in the center amongst the bar's 60+ total taps.  There was no shortage of gravity, as most of the beers clocked in somewhere between 7 and 11.5% but that gravity was accomplished without the aid of massive hop bombs and thick-as-oil stouts. It was a welcome change of pace and a quite successful tap takeover, and the packed house seemed to agree.

Funkwerks Peach Whiskey Barrel Aged Tropic King
Appearance: 4.5. Poured into a tulip glass a rich golden, almost orange color, thin head that dissipated quickly.
Smell: 4.5. Peach is definitely noticeable as well as some oakiness along with the earthy, farmhousey funk that one would expect from a beer that starts as an imperial saison.
Taste: 4.8. Absolutely perfect balance of a lot of different earthy flavors. Peach, oak, whiskey, slight spiciness, brett, grassy/haylike flavor all present, all complimenting each other.
Mouthfeel: 4.6. Very nice, full but peppery and just bubbly enough to keep the alcohol content from weighing it down.
Overall: 4.7. This beer was a real pleasure to drink. It’s simultaneously, complex, balanced, and unique.

Header image lovingly stolen (with permission) from the Krug Park instagram, because sometimes you drink a bunch of Funkwerks beers and forget to take your own stupid pictures.