The Crafty Tap offers real ale fans a real treat

Ben and Jules behind bar of the Crafty Tap

HAVING to taste more than 100 different beers is a tough job – but when you are opening a new craft ale bar, someone’s got to do it.


In this case it was owner Ben Makins who suffered for his art by sampling the huge amount in an effort to whittle down exactly what he and girlfriend Jules Tiley were going to offer at The Crafty Tap in Christchurch.

With their craft tap room and bottle shop, Ben (32) and Jules (29) wanted to create a place where fans of craft beer and ales could sample different types before buying.

Local offerings on draft include Eight Arch and Vibrant Forest while other more unusual beers contain ingredients like guava, mango and pineapple.

Ben has around nine years’ experience in the hospitality industry working for TGIs and the Radisson hotel group among others. Until recently he was an agent for Trailfinders in Guildford.

He said: “Working for them, I got to travel a lot and sample some amazing beers from all over the place.

“I got to the point where I wanted to set up my own business. Jules and myself realised that craft beer was a really growing market. Jules’ family are from Southbourne and we started looking for a place around the Bournemouth area.

“This used to be a wool shop before it became a lettings agency. When we saw it we thought it was exactly the right place for our grape-and-grain dream.”

The Crafty Tap, which is in the High Street, also offers snacks including locally produced pork pies, Scotch eggs and pork scratchings. They also offer beer tasting flights – a selection poured into smaller glasses.

Ben said: “Everything you see in the bar, apart from the peanuts and pickled onions, is available to buy.”

The bar also offers a selection of fine wines, cider and alcohol-free beer. Ben said: “My mother was a sommelier for 30 years and she helped me put together a range of unique and rare wines offered at a good price.

“They include wines from Italy, France and England, including from Dorset.”

Jules, who used to work in sales and marketing, said the reaction from people to the opening of the bar has been “fantastic”.

She added: “The reception has been really, really good. Local businesses have been really welcoming too which is nice. They said they see it as a nice addition to what Christchurch has to offer and will help to grow the High Street.”

The Crafty Tap is open 12-6pm on Mondays, 12-10pm Wednesday to Saturday and 12-8pm on Sunday. It is closed Tuesday.