Bar Tending & Beerspectives
by Matt Martinkovic
Brewsearch & Development - Northside Lounge, Manville NJ
If you haven't figured it out by this point, I am sort of the Lewis Black of this site. It is not
my intention to portray myself as such. Nor do I want to be Lewis, but he and I have
something in common and it is that we are both cynics and pragmatists. Unfortunately in
this life with pragmatism/realism comes pessimism. Unless, of course, you wander
around smiling ignorantly at everything because you are duhduhduhduh ignorant. Or, you
have the disposition of a person who has two brain cells and they are fighting each
other. I, on the other hand, happen to have a crotchety old man sitting in my brain that just
so happens to point out the stupidity of human beings (picture Fred Sanford). So it
should come to no surprise that I can't help but point out some of the stupid shhhhhh in
my industry.

The main point of my ranting and raving this month is to point out the ridiculousness of,
what my boss and I consider to be, the honour system of tap handle returns. I don't
blame some distributors for charging a $15 deposit on tap handles. When I hear the
stories of draft technicians going to other bars and restaurants to fix something and
there are boxes of handles collecting dust or waiting to be sold on ebay that "really
grinds my gears"(thank you Peter Griffin). What makes it more annoying is that I have
gone to bars and restaurants and have seen boatloads of these handles screwed into
shelves so as to add a display or some sort of ambiance to the place is also seemingly
ridiculous. It is because of idiots that do this that we have to pay a $15 deposit on these
handles and then half of the time we wind up with some generic piece of monkey spunk
or a chalkboard handle that we still have to pay the same deposit for. Thanks!

What makes it worse is that these particular people who do not return the handles are
making the breweries and distributors spend more money than they have to in order to
supply their accounts. These handles are not your property. They are a small, yet
somewhat expensive, marketing gimmick for the beer you are serving. This implies that
there is an honour system with which all of us in the industry should abide by. Return the
goddamn handle when you're done serving the beer so the rest of us have the proper
marketing tools you jerk off!

However, this also implies a double edged sword. If certain accounts are not returning
them and you as a distributor are doing nothing to collect them when you know someone
possesses them then you are also an integral part of the problem. You are aiding in the
fact that the breweries have to spend more money to make more handles and you, in
turn, have to spend more money on purchasing more handles. Totally unnecessary.
Case in point, bar and restaurant managers, honour the system and return the handles.
Distributors, grow a set and remind your accounts that the handles aren't their

Northside Lounge, 100 Brooks Boulevard, Manville, NJ 08835     908-722-7712
What's on tap at Northside click
Matt Martinkovic is not only a recognized beer authority but a well known ecological writer whose
work has appeared in the The American Midland Naturalist (University of Notre Dame) among other
industry publications.  He also has been an agricultural consultant on, of course, the growing of hops.
More From Matt:
The Not-So Honourable System
(AKA - My Petty Whining)