Craft breweries try to stand out with creative tap handles

RANDOM LAKE, Wis. (AP) — The number of craft breweries has more than doubled in the last five years, making those branded beer tap handles behind the bar a big business.

Breweries are pulling out the stops to attract drinkers, with cone heads, zombies, beards, bananas and even lighted handles.

AJS Tap Handles’ business has mirrored the breweries’ growth, so they are expanding their Random Lake factory by 16,500 square feet. Their 45 employees make about 500,000 handles out of resin, metal and wood a year.

Lead designer Cole Krueger advises beer makers to go no wider than three inches and stay under a pound. He also says the best ones are the simplest with bold branding.

There were 2,033 craft breweries in 2011 compared to 4,144 last year, according to the Brewers Association.

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