Vintage Pony Keg - Fallstaff Tapper 2.5 gallon Aluminum

Posting ID : B1013836106
Date Posted : 2013-04-27
Group : Antiques By Owner

2.5 gallon / 228 oz Reynolds aluminum "Tapper" keg form Fallstaff

I've had this thing around for a while, just because it is a cool old peice of history, in my opinion. At this point in life I've decided to start to purge some of these cool dust collectors form my life and pass them onto new folks that will appreciate them. I've seen people polish these up and give them a mirror shine. They realy look cool then. It would be a great addition to any bar or man cave. Here is some cool history about the tapper kegs...

The Tapper was developed by Reynolds Aluminum. In about early 1963 (maybe late 1962) they tested it in 298 homes in Binghamton, New York. The company surveyed 2,500 homes to find those that were "medium to heavy beer consumers." The 298 test homes were given filled Tappers labeled only "Tapper: a famous brand of draft beer." (I do not know what brand of beer was actually in these test units.) Several days later the units were picked up and the customers interviewed. Reynolds was encouraged by the results. Most of the test families liked the Tapper, considered it a "space saver" in their refrigerators, and thought it worked well. It appeared that the Tapper was a feasible product, so next it had to be tested in the field under "market conditions" to see if it realy would sell.

The first companies to try it were Falstaff and Hamms. Falstaff tested it in Springfield, Illinois in May 1963. In July they added Fort Wayne, Indiana. By the end of the year Falstaff had expanded their Tapper test to ten towns, mostly in Indiana (Falstaff had a brewery in Fort Wayne). Hamms test marketed their Tapper in St. Cloud, Minnesota and Rockford, illinois. In the Fall of 1964 they began selling it nationally. At the end of 1964 National Brewing began selling the Tapper in Maryland. They also began selling their draft beer in a gallon can, testing it in Washington, DC, and several towns in Maryland, including Great Mills, White Plains, Cumberland, Hagerstown and Frederick.

Reynolds proudly advertised the Tapper as a new way to, um, tap into the home market. They assured brewers that it would fit into 98% of home refrigerators. The Tappers were produced in Reynolds Louisville plant. By the end the Summer of 1965 four breweries were using them, Falstaff, Hamms, National and Ruppert of New York. I have also been told that Maier Brewing in California sold the Tapper with their mainstay, Brew 102.

Despite the optimism of Reynolds, the Tapper does not seem to have been a success. A freind who is old enough to remeber told me that National Draft was in fact a good beer. However, form what I have been told, the beer would go flat in large cans (gallons or Tappers) if it was not consumed quickly. The original test market only left the Tappers with the consumers for a few days. Perhaps if they'd left them longer they would have learned about the beer going flat. I am not sure when the Tapper was pulled form the market, but the latest ads I found for it dated form late 1966.

Larger cans seemed to have been more succesful in Europe. Called "Party Cans" in Britain, these larger cans generally ranged form approximately one US gallon to slightly smaller. They seem to have been marketed not as a way to have draft beer at home every day, but for special ocassions, hence the "Party Can" name. In the 1990s some US brewers began to copy this strategy and gallon cans came back into fashion, although the 2.5 gallon Tapper never did.

Update: According to an email I recieved form a reporter that covered the beer buisness in the 1970s, Hamms and Falstaff used the cans at least as late as 1972 in the Chicago area. The marketing problem, according to Charles N., was not that the beer went flat, but that the Tapper was too bulky. The Tappers took up more retailer and distributor shelf space than the same amount of beer in regular cans, plus distributors had to set aside space and time to deal with the returned empties. In the end it was simply too much of a hassle.

Also, Charles noted, many home refrigerators of the time were also a bit too small to hold the Tapper without sacrificing space needed to other items. I remeber having a pretty big refrigerator in the 70s, but my Dad was an engineer for Frigidaire and we got new appliances almost every year. After a year they'd go back to the factory to be taken apart and checked for wear. As a result we undoubtedly had better appliances than many other homes, so I'll go with Charles' explanation especially as those who still had refrigerators form the 50s and 60s would have had a smaller unit.

Tapper Stats:
Contents: 2.5 gallons (equal to a case of 12 oz cans/bottles)
Weight: Full, 26 lbs, 5 oz.
Weight: Empty, 7 lbs, 10 oz.

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