Beer Tap Levers - A Story of Innovation, and Beer


Background and History

Here I present a story of the definition and interraction of two nouns known around the world:

Innovation [n]: "the action or process of innovating"
Beer [n]: "an alcoholic drink made from yeast-fermented malt flavored with hops"

I think about innovation all the time. It is both frustrating and terrifying, and both envigorating and exciting. Exclusionanary and inclusionary, either precluding enjoying the moment fully, or a playful way of reinventing existing systems to see what may be lurking undiscovered within some crevice of possibility.

I don't think about beer all the time. When I do, however, I arrive at the conclusion that beer is both awesome, and ... BEER! Beer is both the cause, and the solution ([n] "homogeneous mixture composed of two or more substances") to many achievements and problems. It is both intoxicating, and purifying. Did you know that throughout most of history beer has been known to be a safer and more healthy choice than just plain old water?

Beer is a case of the lesser of two evils where the alcohol and yeast colony produces an environment toxic to other bacteriums that can make you much more ill. One could even argue that in some crazy way the potential for addiction could even be seen as a rudimentary natural selection which has influenced some to prefer beer in favor of water due to the lesser risk of water-borne illness. I know, I'm grasping, but just think about it.

Forces of Influence

Forces beyond my control inspired me to start homebrewing. Let's call it the perfect storm of influences at home, and at work. It is a hobby that will suck you in with its near infinite history and varieties, and will keep you on your toes as you go deeper and deeper into the subtlety of ingredients and processing options that affects an unbelievable array of outcomes. Fortunately for me, I somehow managed to reach a level which proved satisfactory, but it only happened after I took it to the next level with, of course: 3D Printing. Making the beer and implementing a storage and distribution system was not enough. It has been done many times before, and while it definitely just works, it just didn't have that allure that all nerds have in the depths of their hearts. What I needed was beer made by my fingertips, and made available by design and action by my fingertips.

Another thing 3D printing and beer affords is convincing others to give you a moment to listen to your ideas. I showed a local microbrewery the beer tap levers I had 3D printed, and mentioned that it might be a good way to develop a custom branded environment within their establishment. A level of sophistication and uniqueness that only patrons of their establishment could experience.


I believe both beer and the notion of innovation are ripe for disruption. We are in the golden age where we no longer have to rely on mass-produced widgets to give us a fake feeling of personalization or uniqueness. With a little bit of preparation of design, ingredients, process, and a few clicks of a keyboard and mouse we can bring into existence something entirely new in a matter of hours (or weeks, in the case of beer).

Sometimes innovation takes a little bit of push within reasonable safety and ethical guidelines. For some people, this extra push is helped along with beer. The world may still be getting flatter, but the world of beer and the 3D Printing definitely isn't. = )