26 Mar Custom Tap Handles Built Right Here In Indianapolis? You’re Darn Right! (sp)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Indiana craft beer industry is full of industrious, multifaceted, and talented people, far beyond just the people that make the beers we enjoy. The industry is rich with people who have found ways to apply their trades towards the benefit of our craft breweries, from their law practices to their plumbing skills and their marketing and design skills. People who love this business and want to see it grow and prosper will find a way to do so, even if they don’t really know what a mash tun is.
Kyle Squillace and the team at Indianapolis’ Impressive Prototypes, LLC have found a way to do just that through the custom building of tap handles for some of Indiana’s newest and more popular breweries.
10 years ago, Kyle, his dad Mike, and the team that now makes up their Irvington shop were all creative designers and engineers at RCA, making models and physical prototypes for businesses to take to trade shows around the country. When RCA moved out of Indiana, they decided to keep their team together and open their own shop, continuing to do what they knew best.
“My father Mike saw an opportunity to keep doing what we loved and were good at,” Kyle told me, “so he bought the leftover equipment and we brought over our core team. We’ve added some cool new pieces, like a few 3D printers, and we can continue just as we left off.”
About two years ago, the younger Squillace, an avid craft beer fan, saw the potential to market Impressive Prototypes’ services to local breweries.
“Travelling around the country and being a craftsman of sort, I got to really appreciate all the different tap handles at all these different breweries. I was surprised to find though that there wasn’t really a lot of local options in Indiana for breweries to have handles built for them.”
“We found that we could be the ‘one-stop-shop’ for breweries to have all their design and build work done, cutting out the middle man or helping out smaller breweries that don’t have an in-house team or the resources to build tap handles themselves.”
Impressive Prototypes’ first step was finding a brewery with a need. With his ear to the ground, Squillace learned about the soon-to-be-opening TwoDEEP Brewing Co., and he approached them with his idea.
It also helped to have a high school buddy in MashCraft’s Andrew Castner to pitch his business to. Soon after, Impressive Prototypes began crafting handles and flight boards for both breweries, plus Wabash Brewing, Wooden Bear, Tow Yard, Scarlet Lane, Taxman, Minneapolis’ Fair State Brewing Cooperative, and Montana’s Neptune Brewery.
“Once we saw a potential for growth in this area, and could convince breweries and brewery owners that these items were as much a marketing tool as signage and beer labels, the idea really took off.”
“We strive to add value to the breweries, first and foremost, so to provide them with something that we handbuilt, sanded, and painted that is valuable to them is really cool,” he adds.
Most tap handles are made of wood or urethane, but a quick tour of Impressive Prototypes’ workspace showed me that they can make a tap handle to look like it was made from just about anything.
“Once we figured we could do something different for the breweries, and do it at a local level with a higher level of quality than what most breweries are used to seeing, it just seemed like a logical step.”
Breweries or brewers interested in having work done by Squillace and his team at Impressive Prototypes can get in touch with him through the company’s website!