AMAZING TAP HANDLES!!!

About This Site

Welcome to Amazing Tap Handles - The Tap Handle Museum. Here you will find photos of the Museum's collection of beer taps, along with brewery info. Have a look around the Museum, and use the contact form in sidebar to leave me feedback about the site, talk about taps, or if you have a rare tap handle you'd like to sell to the Museum. I'd love to hear from you! Please, no inquires about buying taps - they're not for sale.

Copyright Legalities

Photos or tap descriptions used in this blog may not be misrepresented as your own. Photos may not be used for financial gain whatsoever, as the uniqueness of the photo would unfairly associate a seller's product and reputation with this site. Tap descriptions may be used word for word as long as this blog is cited as the source, and a link is provided to this site.

Brewery history may not be used for any reason without citing the blog post or original source from which it was taken, and providing a link to such.

Failure to follow the guidelines above is a violation of Copyright Law, which protects original works of ownership.

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Tap Handle #216 revisited: Coronado - Specialty/Mermaid's Red Hotel Del Coronado




I've re-done this entry to include the Mermaid's Red tap my dad was able to obtain on my parent's visit to San Diego last year, so I have included additional info on Mermaid's Red, as well as adding a few pictures my dad took. Awesome Christmas gift! I will probably get rid of the Specialty tap at some point...

Though it was never on my wishlist, I really liked this tap handle. It chips easily due to having lots of fragile edges on the top. That structure on the top of the tap is the main building of the Hotel Del Coronado (pictured to the right), a historic hotel built in 1887.  A very unique tap for sure.

Coronado Brewing Company was founded in San Diego, California in 1996 by brothers Ron and Rick Chapman. The Chapmans established a brewery and brewpub on the site that had a various times featured a market, a breakfast diner, and a pub. CBC quickly became popular behind an assortment of abundantly hoppy West Coast-style ales. That early success drove them to start distributing their beer outside the brewpub, with their first sale to historic hometown icon The Hotel Del Coronado. In 2003, when CBC struck up a relationship with a local craft distribution company, the increased demand drove an expansion in 2006 that tripled the size of CBC’s brewhouse and raised fermenter capacity by 230 barrels.

By 2010, CBC was brewing about 5,000 barrels of beer per year, allowing them to expand their reach beyond California. CBC still couldn’t produce enough beer to meet an ever-increasing demand, and the problem was solved in 2012, when CBC built a brand new 30-barrel brewhouse in a 22,000 square foot building on Knoxville St. in San Diego’s Tecolote Canyon area. The Knoxville production facility will eventually provide enough space for an overall annual capacity of 60,000 barrels, an increased space for their expanded barrel-aging program, and a tasting room. They currently brew 5 year-round beers and another 6 that are seasonal or specialty beers, and distribute to 13 states and 3 foreign countries.

Coronado specialty brews have featured many varieties over the years. The one currently listed on their website is Barrel Aged Brandy Barley Wine, created in 2011 and the first release in the Barrel Aged Beer line. It's brewed with brown sugar and orange blossom honey, and was aged for six months in oak brandy barrels. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.74 out of 5.

Mermaid's Red is an amber ale loaded with Cascade hops. It delivers a fresh floral aroma and sharp bitter notes, all while delivering a solid kick of roasted malts that fades seamlessly into a rich, chocolaty finish with hints of clove and caramel. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.25 out of 5.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mike's for Christmas

One of the great ironies of this site is that I'm not really a huge beer drinker. I've got to be in the right mood, and their aren't really a lot of beers I like - mainly fruit beers and cream ales. I do have a fondness for hard cider though, as well as vodka-based drinks like Mike's Hard Lemonade.

As a result, this Mike's Winter Grab Bag that a friend got for me was a perfect Christmas gift...

The Chocolate Cherry is simply awesome! I also liked the Cranberry Lemonade, which was nicely balanced. To my surprise, the Winter Blackberry was my least favorite - still very drinkable, though.

Hope you all have a great holiday season!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tap Handle #222: Sapporo - Katana Samurai Sword

This is a gorgeous tap, from the leather-wrapped handle to the mirror-polished blade with Japanese characters on it. The tap is not specific to any Sapporo variety. Definitely one of my favorite taps.

Sapporo beer started in 1876 in Sapporo City, Japan as a state-run brewery. Sapporo, the largest city in the Northern part of Japan, was a frontier town. Seibei Nakagawa, the first German-trained Japanese "Braumeister" (brewmaster) crafted the beer using locally produced ingredients and authentic beer crafting techniques. The beer quickly became a success and was consumed throughout the nation. The iconic star, initially a symbol of the pioneers in the area of Sapporo, was chosen to represent the Sapporo brand. In 1886, Sapporo was privatized. The next year, another company, named Japan Beer, was established in Tokyo, and began producing Yebisu Beer. The competition between Sapporo and Japan Beer, as well as competition with the Osaka (now Asahi) and Kirin breweries led to a 1906 merger of Sapporo, Japan, and Osaka breweries into the Dai-Nippon Beer Company, Ltd., which formed a near monopoly on the Japanese market until after World War II. After 1949, Dai-Nippon was split into Nippon and Asahi breweries, with the Nippon Breweries resuming production of Sapporo beer in 1956 and renaming itself to the present name, Sapporo Breweries, in 1964, when it was brought to the U.S. Yebisu Beer was relaunched as a separate brand in 1971, marketed as a German-style barley beer. In 1984, Sapporo U.S.A., Inc. was founded to maintain high quality and distribution of the brand throughout the country. Sapporo quickly established its status as the #1 selling Asian beer in the U. S.

In 2006, Sapporo acquired Canadian brewer Sleeman. Most Sapporo sold in North America is brewed at the Sleeman brewery in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Despite its name, Sapporo beer is not exclusively brewed in Sapporo - it is also brewed in Sendai, Chiba, Shizuoka, and Kyushu. The Sapporo site hosts a beer museum, as well as the Sapporo Beer Garden, which consists of two restaurants, including the atmospheric Genghis Khan Hall, where diners can sample the all-you-can-eat barbecued mutton.

Sapporo Premium is a pale lager with lush aroma of hops, crisp taste, refreshing flavor, and refined bitterness to leave a clean finish. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.22 out of 5.

Sapporo Beer Official Website

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tap Handle #221: Anheuser-Busch - Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale

Although this is not one of my favorite taps, lots of people seem to like it. There are two versions, a short and a tall one, and mine is the tall version.

312 Urban Wheat Ale is an unfiltered wheat ale with a spicy aroma of Cascade hops, followed by the crispy, fruity ale flavor delivered in a smooth, creamy body, the result of blending barley malt with torrified wheat. It has won 3 gold medals at the 2006, 2007, and 2010 Great American Beer Festivals and a silver medal at the 2008 World Beer Cup. Recommended food pairings are salad, fish, and mozzerella cheese. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.81 out of 5.

For more about Goose Island, see this post.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tap Handle #220: Rogue - Yellow Snow IPA

This is an awesome tap. While the fellow in red appears to be relieving himself, when you turn the tap around he's just clasping his hands together. It's actually the dog that's doing all the heavy lifting. Yellow Snow could benefit from a matte finish, but otherwise it's perfect and always brings a smile to people's faces when they see it.

Rogue Yellow Snow is an IPA was originally introduced for the 2000 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. It's pale golden in color with a hoppy fruity aroma, with big hop flavor up front complemented by medium body and hoppyness mid-pallet, and finishes with a characteristic lingering bitterness. Recommended food pairings are beef and spicy foods. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.62 out of 5.

For more about Rogue, see this post.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tap Handle #219: Coors - Cowboy & Bronco in Horseshoe

This is an absolutely gorgeous tap. From the belt buckle on top, to the horseshoe, horse and rider, and tooled leather handle, it is outstanding - pictures just don't do it justice. Although the belt buckle, horseshoe, and horse and rider are plastic, they did a great job of making it look like metal. I really love this tap!

For more about Coors, see this post.

Tap Handle #218: Olde Burnside - Ten Penny Ale

This is an excellent tap with a lot of detail. The Scotsman playing the bagpipes is very well done, and mine still has the protective plastic over the label. Sometimes these can be seen missing the Scotsman piece entirely.

Ten Penny Ale is a light Scottish ale and Olde Burnside's flagship brew. Recommended food pairings are lamb, sausage, turkey, herb bread, and cheddar cheese. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.16 out of 5.

For more about Olde Burnside, see this post.

Tap Handle #217: MillerCoors - Weinhard's Red

This is a great tap. The boar's head is nicely detailed, and it represents a piece of Portland history. I believe this tap dates to the beer's Olympia ownership days, but I'm not 100% sure.

Henry Weinhard's Brewing was founded in Portland, Oregon, in 1856 by Henry Weinhard. Weinhard was a German immigrant who had been an apprentice brewer in Stuttgart. He immigrated to the United States in 1852, and after stops in New York and Philadelphia, he settled in Cincinnati, where he worked for a brewery for 4 years, during which time he perfected his own recipes. In 1855, Weinhard made his way to Portland and found work in John Meunich’s Fort Vancouver Brewery. Weinhard remained at the Meunich Brewery for six months before moving to Portland and establishing a brewery with George Bottler. Unfortunately, the brewery did not expand at a satisfactory rate for Weinhard, so he sold his portion of the business to Bottler and moved back to Fort Vancouver to work for the Muenich Brewery, which he purchased six months later and renamed the Vancouver Brewery. Weinhard sold the brewery in 1862 and moved his small family to Portland.

Through a series of business transactions with Bottler and Henry Saxer, Weinhard was able to purchase both men’s breweries and eventually move his whole operation to Northwest Portland. The brewery quickly expanded and Weinhard purchased the Liberty Brewery that had been Portland’s oldest brewery at the time. In due course, the expansion of the brewery warranted the construction of a large brick building to house the brewing operation. The City Brewery, as it came to be called, was the most modern brewery in the Northwest. By 1890, the brewery produced 100,000 barrels of beer annually and was exporting it to far-off places like China and The Philippines. Weinhard was instrumental in promoting several public works, as well as making sure Portland was not bypassed by the railroad. Weinhard’s most infamous generosity to the Portland community came with the unveiling of the Skidmore fountain in 1887, when Weinhard offered to pay for the additional hose length that it would take to link the fountain to his largest lager tank in order to have the fountain spout free beer on its first day of operation (which was declined by the city). Weinhard died in 1904. After Weinhard's death, the brewery passed to his 2 son-in-laws.

The brewery survived prohibition by making soda, syrups, and near-beer. After Prohibition was repealed, it took a merger with Blitz Brewing and 20 years to recover and modernize. In 1979, Blitz-Weinhard was sold to Pabst, who sold it to Stroh's in 1996. In 1999 it was sold to Miller, who moved all brewing operations to the Olympia Brewery in Washington and put the building up for sale. In 2000 a developer bought the entire brewery complex, spanning 5 city blocks, and turned it into "The Brewery Blocks", a combination of office, condo, and retail space, part of the now-trendy Pearl District. Although some of the buildings were torn down and rebuilt, the main building was preserved and remodeled due to its listing on the National Registry of Historic Places. Henry's 12th Street Tavern in the remodeled brewery building is a reminder of the brewery's legacy, and the big brew tanks and smokestack are visible from the street. (Note: I see these buildings from time to time when I make trips into Portland to visit the iconic Powell's Books, which is right across the street).

After the Olympia Brewery closed, Henry's was eventually re-positioned as a microbrew and is currently brewed under contract by Full Sail Brewing in Hood River, Oregon. Weinhard's Red was an amber ale described as "red ale for beginners", and has been retired. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.65 out of 5 (the beer was more highly rated in its original Weinhard and Olympia days than it was under Full Sail).

Henry Weinhard's Official Website

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tap Handle #216: Coronado - Specialty Hotel Del Coronado





File:HotelDelCoronado.jpgThough it was never on my wishlist, I really liked this tap handle. It chips easily due to having lots of fragile edges on the top. That structure on the top of the tap is the main building of the Hotel Del Coronado (pictured to the right), a historic hotel built in 1887.  A very unique tap for sure.

Coronado Brewing Company was founded in San Diego, California in 1996 by brothers Ron and Rick Chapman. The Chapmans established a brewery and brewpub on the site that had a various times featured a market, a breakfast diner, and a pub. CBC quickly became popular behind an assortment of abundantly hoppy West Coast-style ales. That early success drove them to start distributing their beer outside the brewpub, with their first sale to historic hometown icon The Hotel Del Coronado. In 2003, when CBC struck up a relationship with a local craft distribution company, the increased demand drove an expansion in 2006 that tripled the size of CBC’s brewhouse and raised fermenter capacity by 230 barrels.

By 2010, CBC was brewing about 5,000 barrels of beer per year, allowing them to expand their reach beyond California. CBC still couldn’t produce enough beer to meet an ever-increasing demand, and the problem was solved in 2012, when CBC built a brand new 30-barrel brewhouse in a 22,000 square foot building on Knoxville St. in San Diego’s Tecolote Canyon area. The Knoxville production facility will eventually provide enough space for an overall annual capacity of 60,000 barrels, an increased space for their expanded barrel-aging program, and a tasting room. They currently brew 5 year-round beers and another 6 that are seasonal or specialty beers, and distribute to 13 states and 3 foreign countries.

Coronado specialty brews have featured many varieties over the years. The one currently listed on their website is Barrel Aged Brandy Barley Wine, created in 2011 and the first release in the Barrel Aged Beer line. It's brewed with brown sugar and orange blossom honey, and was aged for six months in oak brandy barrels. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.74 out of 5.

Coronado Brewing Official Website

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tap Handle #215: Railway City - Dead Elephant

This beautiful tap originally debuted on my wish list at #14. I obtained one and really love it. The detail is excellent, with the elephant sitting on a tiny train that belches clouds of steam. Even the base is made to look like circus rope and train tracks.

Railway City Brewery was founded in 2008 in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada by Paul Corriveau and Al Goulding. The brewery initially suffered from consistency issues, but a new head brewer arrived and tweaked some of the recipes, and also created their popular Dead Elephant Ale. Sales took off, and Railway City soon found itself unable to meet demand. As a result, they purchased a building that was a former Rite-Form Tool & Dye factory, but it needs extensive renovations before Railway City can move in. Currently they make 5 varieties and also 2 seasonals, and distribute from Windsor to Ottawa.

Dead Elephant Ale is a tribute to Jumbo the Elephant, who was tragically killed in a railroad accident in the late 1800’s in St.Thomas. Jumbo is featured throughout St.Thomas from the life size statue at the City’s west entrance, to the large wall murals adorning the downtown buildings. He was the prize attraction of the P.T. Barnum Circus that performed throughout North America. What a lot of people don’t realize is that during the early days, many circuses traveled by train, and thus many traveled to St.Thomas as part of their route. P.T. Barnum was a master marketer and many refer to the term of Jumbo sized items relating back to Jumbo the Elephant. In fact the name Jumbo was given to him by his London zookeepers which was a variation of one of two Swahili words: jambo (which means “hello”) or jumbe (which means “chief”). Either way, Jumbo’s name established the common word "Jumbo” as meaning large in size.

Dead Elephant Ale is a full bodied golden pale ale which pours with a linen-white medium density head, leaving spider web lace on the glass. On the palate the flavor is sweet fruity malts up front (apricot, mango) with a bit of candy, and slight grassy notes which fall away to reveal a hint of biscuit with rather pleasant grapefruit and perfume undertones. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.19 out of 5.

Railway City Official Website

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tap Handle #214: Caledonian (Heineken UK) - Newcastle Werewolf ESB

I consider this the coolest tap handle ever made...it's one of my favorites, if not my top tap. There is a small version and a tall version - this is the tall one. The detail and theme are simply awesome!

Newcastle was originally founded in 1890 in Newcastle, England. As it went through a series of mergers with other breweries such as Robinson & Sons, James Porter & Son, and John Barras, it was the Newcastle name that stuck. The 5 points on the star on the Newcastle label represent the 5 original breweries. In 1927, Lt. Colonel James ('Jim') Herbert Porter, a third generation brewer at Newcastle (grandson of James Porter, listed above), refined the recipe for Newcastle Brown Ale alongside chemist Archie Jones over a period of three years. When Porter actually completed the beer, he believed it to be a failure, as he had actually been attempting to recreate Bass ale. The day after the beer's release, police begged the brewery to lower the strength of the beer, as the prison cells were full, but the company declined. When first exhibited, Newcastle Brown Ale swept the board at the prestigious 1928 International Brewery Awards and was called "The One and Only"; the gold medals from these awards are still featured on the label, and the term "The One and Only" is still used today. Locals, however, referred to it as a "bottle of dog". If you've ever heard the expression "I have to go see a man about a dog", it's a very old euphemism about someone who's off to drink Newcastle. The success of Newcastle led to Col. Jim Porter becoming managing director of Newcastle Breweries, Ltd in the 1950's. He died in Newcastle in 1973. Newcastle Brown Ale became a brand of Scottish & Newcastle after the merger of Scottish Brewers with Newcastle Breweries in 1960 where it became a flagship brand.

Scottish and Newcastle announced closure of the Tyne Brewery in 2004, in order to consolidate the brewing of beer and ale at the Dunston site. In 2008, S&N acquired Caledonian; however, Heineken then bought S&N in a joint deal with Carlsberg, and Caledonian, now also known as Heineken UK, became Newcastle's parent company. In 2010, S&N closed the Dunston brewery, moving production of Brown Ale to the John Smiths Brewery in Tadcaster. The company cited the general fall in the market for beer, over-capacity in its plants in general, and the fact that the Dunston site was currently operating at just 60% capacity, despite the fact that sales of Newcastle Brown Ale had never been higher. Currently, Newcastle Brown is exported to over 40 countries, and is so popular in the U.S. that the brewery at times devotes half of its production to the U.S. market. In addition to Brown Ale, Newcastle also produces 4 seasonal beers.

Newcastle Werewolf is fall seasonal, blood red ESB that gets its color from Rye Malt. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.55 out of 5.

Newcastle Official Website

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Change to Recent Comments in Sidebar and Updated List

Well, the gadget for the Recent Comments feature in the sidebar has been broken for awhile. I was hoping it would be fixed by now but no such luck. I switched to a different gadget called Top Comments instead. It's not as intuitive - the comments seem to be out of order - but it's better than nothing...

On a side note, I've also updated the collection list over in the sidebar. Even though I've cut way back on acquisitions, I'm still up to 266 taps...

Tap Handle #213: Fish Brewing - Fish Tale Mudshark Porter

Compared to the previous tap I profiled (BlueWater), this tap looks rather plain. I still like it, though. The only difference among varieties is the label.

Fish Brewing Company was founded in 1993 in Olympia, Washington, by Crayne and Mary Horton. Fish began operations in a brewpub with a 15-barrel brew house, two 15-barrel fermenters, and one dairy tank. By 1996, Fish had outgrown the brewpub, and moved brewing operations to the Skoog building, the former site of the Olympia Knitting Mills, as well as a lumber mill machinery factory. The increase in space allowed for a bottling line, while the old brewpub became the new brewpub’s kitchen. In 2000 the company made a commitment to start using organic ingredients in some of their ales. In 2001, Fish acquired Leavenworth Biers. Founded by Scott Hansen in 1992 in Leavenworth, Washington (home of the Northwest’s famed Bavarian village) Leavenworth Biers moved its own operations to Fish's site. And in 2004, Fish aquired Spire Mountain Ciders, the nation’s oldest operating commercial craft cider maker. Spire's owners, Washington Wine and Beverage Company, agreed to the sale for a minority ownership stake in Fish, and Spire operations were moved to Fish.

All these acquisitions caused brewing a space problems. In 2006 Fish retired their 15-barrel brewing system and replaced it with a 40-barrel brewing system and a fifth 120-barrel fermenter, for a total of twelve fermenters. Space became tight, especially for stacking barrel pallets. In 2008, a major shareholder in Fish sold their shares to Washington Wine and Beverage, making them the primary shareholder. WW&B was founded in 1987 as a small cidery making Spire Mountain in Bothell, Washington, but had grown to be one of the largest winemaking companies in Washington before owning Fish. They became embroiled in controversy when they attempted to buy out the lease of the Loft. The Loft occupied part of the same building as Fish, with a large area that had hosted local bands, artists, and non-profit groups since 1949. Fish desired to stack pallets higher and needed to remove the floor of the Loft to do so. After an unsuccessful website, petition, and boycott of Fish products, the Loft was demolished, allowing Fish the expansion it desired. In the future, WW&B has plans to build a Fish brewery & distillery at its Woodinville, Washington, Wine & Culinary Village. Fish also has a new line of short-availability craft beers known as "Reel Ales".

Fish Tale Mudshark Porter is a black, medium-bodied, yet robust brew with a rich chocolate flavor and dry finish. The predominate flavor is of smooth, dark, bittersweet cocoa. This is a hearty brew of seven varieties of malt, including Pale, Carastan, Crystal, Brown, Black, Munich, and an especially generous portion of Chocolate malt. Mudshark Porter gains its bitterness from Columbus hops, and its gentle hop flavor from a late addition of Willamette hops in the kettle. It won a gold medal in 2000 & 2001 from the North American Brewers' Association. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.43 out of 5.

Fish Brewing Official Website

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tap Handle #212: SweetWater - Blue

As I've stated in previous posts, I love nautical stuff, so it was a no-brainer to add this rainbow trout tap to the collection. These are very common, but are also prone to chipping and paint damage when used. The only difference between varieties is the labels.

SweetWater Brewing was founded in 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996 by Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney. They were roommates at the University of Colorado, Boulder and both loved beer. They started by washing kegs on the loading docks of a local brewery for free beer, then they attended the American Brewers Guild in California. After that they worked for other west coast breweries to expand their knowledge. In 1996, the Olympics brought Freddy to Atlanta. He decided it would be a great place for a brewery, and he and Kevin scraped together just enough money to get started. As they were building the brewery, Freddy was kayaking down Sweetwater Creek, in a state park near the brewery, and decided that it would be a great name for the brewery. Initial distribution was in the local Atlanta area.

As business increased, SweetWater outgrew its old location, and moved to a new building in 2004 in Midtown Atlanta. This new facility was 25,000 square feet, with enough capacity to brew 100,000 barrels of beer a year. Their brews were unpasteurized and designed to be consumed fresh, so distribution was limited to Georgia, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The brewery underwent another expansion in 2012 to increase square footage to 115,000 and barrel production to 500,000 a year, allowing for expansion in the Florida, Tennessee, and Virginia markets. They are the second-largest brewer in the southeast and the 27th largest brewer in the U.S. Currently, the brewery has 6 year‐round brews, 6 "Catch and Release" seasonals, and has also brewed 2 one‐time‐only "Dank Tank" beers. SweetWater was named Grand Champion of the 2012 U.S. Open Beer Championship, taking home 3 gold and 3 silver medals.

SweetWater Blue is a light-bodied fruit ale with a hint of blueberries, and was one of the 2 original beers to be brewed during start-up. It won a bronze medal at the 1998 World Beer Festival. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.01 out of 5.

SweetWater Official Website

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tap Handle #211: Diamond Bear - Southern Blonde

This is one of my favorite taps. The sculpting and detail are excellent. If you're going to have a toy on a stick, this is the way to go. I also really like (but don't have) the Strawberry Blonde version.

Diamond Bear Brewing was founded in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2000 by Russ and Sue Melton. Russ Melton was a tire salesman who was exposed to German beer when he was stationed in Germany with the Army in the '70s. In the '90, while living in Kansas City, he was impressed with Boulevard's beer. On returning to Little Rock, he decided to open a brewery in a building that was once an old Studebaker dealership, and stocked it with equipment from a defunct Seattle brewery. The Diamond Bear name is derived from Arkansas having been known as both "The Diamond State" and "The Bear State". The brewery struggled with consistency during its early years, but after a brewer from Abita arrived, the beers started winning awards. Bottling was largely handled by volunteers, but there were frequent problems with the old equipment. To make matters worse, the brewery was being charged for excessive wastewater, despite the fact that most of the water they were using went into the beer.

In 2011 Diamond Bear moved its operations into a 20,000 square foot building on 2 acres in North Little Rock, citing increases in demand and sales, as well as higher loading docks and the problems mentioned above, for the move. The site includes a much larger tap room, a small restaurant, a deck overlooking the river, rental of a special event room/or even the entire brewery for private functions, and public tours on Saturday and Sunday.

Southern Blonde is a golden German Pilsner made to appeal to drinkers of big brewery lagers like Budweiser and Miller. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.54 out of 5.

Diamond Bear Official Website

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tap Handle #210: Sprecher - Double IPA Griffon

This is identical to my Sprecher Special Amber tap, except for the color and label, which is how the different varieties of beers are distinguishable for each tap. I've seen some other Sprecher griffons that were red or blue.

Sprecher Double IPA is a summer seasonal of the imperial or double style, therefore much stronger than the normal IPA's now found everywhere. It has a very balanced but different flavor than most US micro types focusing on more on malt and hop balance, where CA IPA's emphasize massive hop aroma and bitterness. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.14 out of 5.

For more about Sprecher, see this post.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mystery Tap Handle

Gary over at the BreweryGems website (which I mentioned in the Heidelberg post) was wondering if anyone could identify this tap. So how about it...does anybody know the brewer or beer that this tap belongs to? It appears to be made of pottery (ceramic?) and is filled with concrete or plaster, with a standard female thread on the bottom of it. If anyone knows or has an educated guess, please leave a comment...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tap Handle #209: Old Dominion - Oak Barrel Stout

I like this tap more than I thought I would. Each variety has subtle differences in the tap layout, with the label being the most distinguishing feature.

Old Dominion Brewing was founded in 1989 in Ashburn, VA by Jerry Bailey. Bailey was working as a federal government employee when his brother gave him a homebrewing kit for Christmas. After much research and planning, he decided to open a brewpub, and it was an immediate success. The grounds behind the brewery were used to host the Old Dominion Brew Festival from 1996 to 2006.

Bailey put Old Dominion up for sale in the mid-2000s. No serious offers to purchase the company were made until 2007, when Fordham Brewing of Annapolis, MD offered to purchase the company, financed in part by Anheuser-Busch (AB) for a minority stake in the two breweries, to form Coastal Brewing Company. The majority of Coastal is owned by Fordham Brewing. Old Dominion also operated a brewpub at the Ashburn brewery, which was closed in August 2008, primarily due to ongoing losses directly related to the overall U.S. economic downturn. Immediately after the sale, the brewers at Old Dominion worked with the brewers at Fordham for several months to ensure a consistent recipe transition. After the breweries combined operations, Coastal Brewing increased its focus on Old Dominion's popular brands, with all slower selling and non-profitable brands and contract brews culled from the product line by Coastal management.

In May 2009 all brewing operations, combined with those of Fordham Brewing, were moved to a new facility in Dover, Delaware. The current core brands of the brewery continue to sell briskly in both the on-site and packaging ends, and can be found as the "house" brews at many locations throughout the DC Metro area, including the Great American Restaurant chain (except for the Sweetwater Tavern in Centreville, VA), Verizon Center, and Nationals Park. Old Dominion continues to host various brew sampling and cask events throughout the DC-MD-VA metropolitan area, maintaining their status as a Mid-Atlantic regional brewer, and their Oak Barrel Stout and Hop Mountain Pale Ale brands remain popular sellers in the packaging end of the line, available at several retail and grocery chains throughout the region.

Oak Barrel Stout is rich and smooth, combining seven different malts and two hops, and dry-hopped with fresh vanilla beans and toasted oak, resulting in a stout that has a bourbon barrel flavor. Recommended food pairings are oysters, clams, brie, and chocolate. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.59 out of 5.

Old Dominion Official Website

Tap Handle #208: Gordon Biersch - Summerbrau Waterglobe

Normally I don't go for taps with waterglobes in them, because usually they get large air bubbles in them. However, since this was part of a group purchase, I don't mind. There are a few other varieties that have different scenes inside the waterglobe. This is probably my favorite Gordon Biersch waterglobe tap, due to the comical feature of a man in lederhosen holding a surfboard.

SommerBrau is a Kölsch style beer, fermented using a special top fermenting yeast strain imported from Germany. It is available seasonally from May through July. Recommended food pairings are chicken, seafood, and spicy dishes. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.85 out of 5.

For more about Gordon Biersch, see this post.

Tap Handle #207: Back Forty - Kudzu Porter Gas Pump

This is an awesome tap and extremely rare. I love the idea of an old gas pump covered in creeping Kudzu vines. The details and colors, along with the matte finish, when combined with the rarity, make this a top tap.

Back Forty Beer Company was founded in 2007 in Birmingham, Alabama, by Jason Wilson and Zach Folmar. They were originally inspired with the idea of Back Forty Beer Company in 2003 while visiting family in the small ski town of Crested Butte, CO. While dining out one evening, the two men struck up a conversation with the Master Brewer at the town’s local brewpub. In 2007, after years of developing the concept, the duo enlisted the services of Montgomery, Alabama resident Jamie Ray as Brewmaster for the operation.  Ray had over twenty years of experience in the brewing profession, including several medals at the Great American Beer Festival.

In 2009, a deal was reached with the Alabama Budweiser network for statewide distribution of Back Forty’s products. This resulted in the creation of Alabama’s only craft brewery with distribution throughout the state. After several months were spent obtaining licenses and permits, Back Forty Beer Company offered its first public samples of Naked Pig Pale Ale at the Magic City Brewfest in Birmingham, AL.  This date was also significant, as it was the first time that craft beer that exceeded 6% alcohol was allowed to be sold in Alabama. Due to an Alabama law that prohibits breweries from selling beers on-site for consumption, Back Forty was originally contract brewed by the Lazy Magnolia Brewery in Mississippi. However, they managed to grow so quickly that they were forced to move their operations to their larger current location in Gadsden, at the former site of a Sears Roebuck appliance service center, where they now brew their own beer, which includes 4 varieties.

Kudzu Porter is blended with roasted malts and hops, with hints of chocolate, smoke, and citrus. Recommended food pairings are lamb, pork, and desserts. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.27 out of 5.

Back Forty Official Website

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tap Handle #206: Moylan's - Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout

I really like these Moylan's taps that look like a Celtic cross. I scored this one as part of a group purchase. The only difference between varieties is the label. It's double sided, so the back and front are identical.

Moylan's Brewing was founded in 1995 in Novato, California by Brendan Moylan. After picking up a homebrewing kit to start, Moylan became a founding partner in Marin Brewing Company, which opened in April of 1989. Moylan moved his family from San Francisco to Novato in 1989 because he wanted to raise his two children in the city’s small town atmosphere. Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant, Novato’s only brewpub, was $3.5 million project that has established a strong following among North Marin’s beer connoisseurs. Moylan’s features a 57 foot long bar, a dart room with a fireplace and a reading library featuring brewing books and magazines from Brendan’s personal collection.

Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout is rich, thick, and intense with hints of espresso coffee, chocolate truffles, burnt currants, and sherry. It won a gold medal in the 1998 and 2002 World Beer Championship. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.0 out of 5.

Moylan's Official Website

Tap Handle #205: Boulevard - Unfiltered Wheat

This tap doesn't look that impressive in the photo, but it is more so when you're holding it in your hands...I like this one. It's pretty common, and is made to resemble the big brick smokestack outside the brewery, right down to the big "BOULEVARD" painted on the side. The only difference in the varieties of taps are in the label at the top - and some have a square top instead of round.

Boulevard was founded in 1988 in Kansas City, Missouri, by John McDonald. He started construction of the brewery in a turn-of-the-century brick building on Kansas City’s historic Southwest Boulevard. A vintage Bavarian brewhouse was installed, and the first batches of beer were produced in the fall of 1989.
The brewery's first half-barrel was delivered personally by McDonald in his pickup truck to Ponak's Mexican Kitchen, located nearby.

The brewery is now the largest craft brewer in the Midwest, with capacity reaching an estimated 600,000 barrels. Boulevard's beer is available throughout Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Indiana, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Alaska and parts of Illinois, Colorado, Alabama, Idaho, Minnesota, Utah, Texas, and Maryland. Boulevard underwent expansions in 1999 and 2003. In March 2005, Boulevard broke ground on a $20 million expansion project that was constructed adjacent to the existing plant, and included a two-story state-of-the-art brewhouse and a kegging/bottling facility with a skylit atrium. The third floor, in addition to housing Boulevard Brewery offices, has two large hospitality rooms, with a terrace overlooking downtown Kansas City. A glass skywalk links both pedestrian circulation and beer piping between the old and new brewhouses.

Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a lively, refreshing ale with a natural citrusy flavor and distinctive cloudy appearance, and is the best-selling beer of its style in the Midwest. It also won a gold medal at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival. Recommended food pairings are bread, mozzarella cheese, pizza, salads, seafood, and sushi. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.04 out of 5.

Boulevard Official Website (this is a nicely-designed site)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tap Handle #204: Tallgrass - IPA

Not one of my favorite taps, but not bad either. It's mostly valued for its scarcity.

Tallgrass IPA is rich, complex, and flavorful. It was the first beer brewed by the owner during his homebrewing days, but the third beer released by the brewery. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.2 out of 5.

For more about Tallgrass, see this post.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tap Handle #203: Leinenkugel - Sunset Wheat Canoe

These canoe taps produced by Leinenkugel are prolific and popular. Each variety of beer has its own color, and the Sunset Wheat is blue. The other varieties do not have the orange slice (although one has a lemon). Also, there are small 7" versions and larger 14" versions of each variety (this is the larger version). Although it says "Leinie's" and not Leinenkugel, the names are used interchangeably by the brewery. Pictures don't quite do this tap justice; it's impressive when you hold it in your hand.

Sunset Wheat is a Belgian-style Witbier brewed with coriander for a smooth creaminess and citrus flavor, and it won a silver medal in the 2006 Great American Beer Festival. Recommended food pairings are seafood and spicy pepperjack cheese. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.91 out of 5.

For more about Leinenkugel, see this post.

Tap Handle #202: Kona - Wailua Wheat

I originally wasn't going to get this tap, as I already had a couple of other Kona taps and the Big Wave was more desirable to me, but it came with a group of other taps. It is a very colorful and beautiful tap.

Wailua Wheat is a spring and summer seasonal that has a citrus flavor from being brewed with passion fruit, and won a gold medal at the 2011 U.S. Open Beer Championship. Recommended food pairings are grilled fish or shrimp, roasted chicken, salads, Asian foods, and vanilla ice cream. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.75 out of 5.

For more about Kona, see this post.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tap Handle #201: Heidelberg - Light Pilsner

This is an old tap, I believe, from the late 60s or early 70s. The castle on the top is rather small, but has good detail, and their are leaves up the length of the shaft.

Heidelberg actually began as the Columbia Brewing Company, founded by Emil Kliese and William C. Kiltz in 1900, in Tacoma, Washington. Kliese was a 35 year old, German-born brewmaster who had emigrated in 1883. In the mid-1890's, Kliese made his way west securing a position with the newly established Capital Brewing Co. (which became Olympia Brewing). By 1899 he was their head brewmaster. A business opportunity arose when some Tacoma investors wanted to open another brewery in that town. They required an expert brewmaster, and he wanted to operate his own brewery. Kiltz was sales manager and Kliese was owner, president and brewmaster.

During Prohibition, Columbia survived by making near beer and soft drinks including Birch Beer, Chocolate Soldier, Blue Jay, and Green River. Kliese's younger brother, Paul, succeeded him as the brewmaster at Columbia in 1918, and Emile died the following year. Paul remained as brewmaster until the family sold the brewery in 1921, after which he was succeeded by his assistant, Otto Birkmaier. Birkmaier was brewmaster until his death in 1945. During his lifetime he was one of the most highly regarded brewers in the country.

In 1932, with National Prohibition certain to be repealed, Elmer E. Hemrich and a group of other Seattle investors purchased Columbia for $100,000. Rather than enlarge the old frame building, it was dismantled and a larger concrete structure was built in its place. Hemrich re-introduced the popular pre-Prohibition Alt Heidelberg and Alt Pilsner brands. In 1936, Columbia was the first Pacific Northwest brewery to introduce canned beer. After World War II, recovering from shortages of malt and machinery was a slow process, but in a few short years their production was at max capacity. By 1948 Columbia began a massive expansion project, and in 1953 the brewery became Heidelberg Brewing Company. In 1954, Heidelberg began another period of expansion with the installation of a second brewing line and additional storage tanks in a four story addition. Heidelberg was now the largest brewery north of San Francisco and west of Milwaukee.

In 1958 Carling purchased the Heidelberg for $3.5 million. Though it was unknown at the time, selling the business to an outside entity was the beginning of the end. In 1979, Carling-National was purchased by Heileman. Prior to the purchase of Heidelberg, Heileman had acquired Rainier. Owning two major plants in such close proximity gave Heileman too large a share of the regional market, and violated anti-trust laws; however, instead of voiding the sale, which had already been completed, Heilman was forced to close one of the plants. So, in 1979 the old Columbia Brewery closed its doors for good. The building was vacant and in decay for some time; historic preservation was considered, but a report showed that the multiple expansions through the years had destroyed all traces of the old brewery - there was nothing to preserve. Considered an eyesore, the brewery was demolished in 2011.

Heidelberg's Light Pilsner was a light version of their popular (Alt) Pilsner. There is no rating on ratebeer.com (although they do rate Heidelberg Light at a weighted average of 2.76 out of 5).

There is obviously no website, but all of the above history was found and used with permission from www.brewerygems.com. You can find the link to the Heidelberg page here. Check out the brewerygems site...it's full of lots of great information and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Museum Turns One Year Old, Part 2: The Future of the Museum

This is the second part of a two series remarking the one year anniversary of the Museum...

The current collection is right about at 250 tap handles. I've been questioning as to whether or not I should let the collection get over 300 taps. I'm pretty sure I don't have room to display all of them, and it sucks to leave them in boxes. But I've become quite addicted to acquiring them, and every so often I find a rare one that I've never seen before.

If I do limit the collection size to 300, I may have to sell more to make room for ones that I like better. But I've slowed down the acquisitions quite a bit, and I'll worry about going past 300 taps if and when I get there.

I also have a few brewery trips planned for next year: I'd like to see the insides of the Rogue and Pelican breweries that I've posted about. I'd also like to check out Bridgeport and Widmer here in Portland, and Pyramid, Red Hook, and Elysian (I've been to Red Hook but didn't take any pictures).

Also during the next year I'll have to work on how to organize my taps. It should be *fun* trying to figure out how I'm going to display these....

The Museum Turns One Year Old, Part 1: Stats

This is the first in a 3 part series remarking the one year anniversary of the Museum's blog...

One year ago today I started this blog. It's been quite an endeavor, I think: 200 tap handles listed, a couple of brewery visits, and some lucky breaks in acquiring taps have fueled the Museum. When I started this, I had about 105 taps from over 10 years of collecting; in the last year that total has jumped to 250 taps! Let's take a look at some blog statistics to see how it's fairing. Has anyone (besides Heff) noticed?

Total Pageviews: 10,940
Analysis: That's not bad for the first year of a blog that I don't promote in any way! August was the biggest month with 1617 views.

Most Viewed Posts: #105 Angry Orchard (630 views); #132 Dogfish Head (158); #75 Shock Top (111)
Analysis: I can understand Angry Orchard because it looks amazing. And the Dogfish Head is really rare. But Shock Top is really common, I'm not sure why it's so popular...must be the beer.

Top referring site: Google image search
Analysis: This is a result of not promoting the blog. Most people find there way here by clicking on images of beer taps in Google image search. I'll be updating to Goggle+, as well as visiting places to promote the blog, and see if that makes a difference.

Audience: U.S. (9039 views); Russia (684), Canada (176)
Analysis: The U.S. cements its reputation as a beer-drinking country. I was also surprised to see Russia far ahead of Canada. One final note: with 3 billion people, either China doesn't drink much beer, or their government filters out beer-related internet searches...

Browsers: Safari (2795); Internet Explorer (2694); Chrome (2178)
Analysis: Safari does not include mobile Safari stats, so Mac-based Safari is the most frequently used browser when visitors hit the site. I use Chrome myself...I used to love Firefox, but it has become slow, as well as being a memory hog.

OS: Windows: (6356); iPhone (1726); Mac (1223)
Analysis: This contradicts the previous stat, showing that PC users are the most frequent. Why the disparity? Well, PC users run several different browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and even Safari), while Macs pretty exclusively run Safari. So while Safari is the single most used browser, PCs are far more prevalent, they're just split over more varieties of browsers.

And there you have it. In another year we'll see if the stats have changed at all.

In Part 2, I'll talk about the future of the Museum and my acquisitions...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tap Handle #200: Tallgrass - Velvet Rooster Belgian Tripal

This is a beautiful tap, the colors and details are really nice. When I received the tap, it arrived broke. Fortunately I had purchased 2, and I gave my friend Kelly the broken one to see if he could fix it.

Velvet Rooster is a Belgian Tripel that pours a golden straw color with brilliant clarity, topped with a lofty pure white head, and has a wonderful floral nose with subtle fruit notes. The taste is clean and crisp, with subtle fruit notes and a touch of candy like sweetness. The beer has a Champagne-like effervescent that provides a crisp offset to its sweet finish. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.29 out of 5.

For more about Tallgrass, see this post.




A Trip Past Pelican Brewery

A couple of weeks ago, I made another trip out to the central Oregon coast. I had fully intended to visit the Rogue Brewery, but as often happens, I was sidetracked by other places and my companions' agendas, and I didn't make it to Rogue. The weather was so beautiful, Saturday was a perfect day: playing on the beach, snapping photos, and exploring little towns like Waldport, followed by a night in Florence of playing slots at the Three Rivers Casino, watching the Ducks demolish the Huskies, and singing karaoke while partaking of Amaretto and 7-Up.

Sunday was more of the same, heading back up the coast to Lincoln City, Neskowin, and Pacific City, finally finishing out the day with slots, karaoke, and all the seafood I could eat at Spirit Mountain Casino in Grande Rhonde, and then the drive home. It didn't hurt that I walked away from the slots with an extra $150 in my pocket.

However, while in Pacific City I stumbled across the Pelican Brewery. Once again I was pressed for time, as we had to meet our friends at the casino for dinner, but I did manage to snap a couple of photos, and vowed that I would return to sample some of their offerings. I have actually seen some of the taps on eBay but didn't know where the brewery was. Now I do. Enjoy the photos!





Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tap Handle #199: Anheuser-Busch - Margaritaville Lone Palm Ale

There's nothing really fancy about this tap - it's just a palm tree with a small sign - although it has a nice paint job. I actually wanted this one for the novelty. You see, Lone Palm Ale is served in Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville restaurants. And I ate at a Margaritaville restaurant in Orlando, where I observed this tap at the bar. Since it brings back memories of my trip, I had to have it. Some versions have the Margaritaville slogan, as seen below, but don't say the name of the ale, Lone Palm. Since it is only sold in Margaritaville restaurants, these are pretty rare finds.


Lone Palm is an amber ale brewed by Anheuser-Busch at their St. Louis brewery for the Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville restaurant chain, like the Landshark brand. Unlike Landshark, however, Lone Palm does not have it's own website. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.63 out of 5.

No website as stated above, but you can find out more about the Margaritaville restaurant chain here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tap Handle #198: Hornsby's Draft Cider

Hey, another toy on a stick! But what can I say, I'm a sucker for rhinos. The detail is great on this one, right down to the apple stuck on the rhino's horn. It's pretty rare, too.

Hornsby's Cider was started in 1994 by the Ernest and Julio Gallo Winery. E & J Gallo was founded in 1933 in Modesto, CA and is the world's largest winery. Hornsby's proved to be a popular brand, eventually becoming the second largest cider brand in the U.S. In 2011, Hornsby's was sold to C & C Group, an Irish cider company that is big in Europe with their own cider brand Bulmers, and also the international brand Magners.

Weighted average for Hornsby's Draft Cider on ratebeer.com is 2.81 out of 5.

Hornsby's Official Website. A big thumbs down to Hornby's for wanting your name and email just to get into the site. Thanks, but no thanks...I'll pass.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tap Handle #197: Hook & Ladder - Backdraft Brown Ale

There are two versions of this tap; I prefer this one, as the other version only says "Hook & Ladder" and does not have a label with "Backdraft Brown" on it.

Backdraft Brown is a brown ale that uses specialty malts to give it a roasted taste, a hint of chocolate, a nutty aroma, and brown color. Cascade hops provide balance. Recommended food pairings are roast pork, smoked sausage, grilled salmon, and aged Gouda. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.96 out of 5.

For more about Hook & Ladder, see this post.

Tap Handle #196: Tyranena - Fargo Brothers Hefeweizen

I realize this is one of those "toys-on-a-stick" type of tap handles which I'm not usually fond of. However, I couldn't resist this one as it's from a small brewery and very rare. This is also an older style tap as Tyranena's newer taps are blocky and white. And I like steamboats, too.

Tyranena was founded in the small town of Lake Mills, Wisconsin in 1998 by Rob Larson. The brewery has a 45,000 barrel capacity, includes a bottling line, and features a tasting room and beer garden, though it does not serve food. It is known for its hoppy beers and barrel-aged beers that use bourbon barrels from a distillery in Kentucky.

Fargo Brothers Hefeweizen is a seasonal Bavarian-style weitbier with a clove-like flavor and aroma with banana undertones and no bitterness. The unfiltered yeast makes this beer cloudy. It's named after the Fargo Brothers, a family that arrived in Lake Mills in 1845, who became community leaders and shaped the city. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is  3.28 out of 5.

Tyranena Official Website

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tap Handle #195: Miller - MGD Tomahawk

This tap was placed at #11 on my wishlist when I removed the Coors Microphone from the list ( I had just acquired the MGD microphone). There's not much detail but it still looks really great.

For more about Miller MGD, see this post.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tap Handle #194: Shipyard - Wheat Ale

This is a beautiful tap. The detail is excellent - better than the Coronado mermaid - and it has a matte finish. I've wanted this tap for a long time, and it's a great addition to the collection.

I couldn't find much information on Shipyard Wheat Ale...despite having the tap in their online store, their site does not list it as one of their current beers. Maybe that's not surprising since most of the reviews I read were less than complementary. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.6 out of 5.

For more about Shipyard, see this post.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tap Handle #193: Fox Barrel - Pacific Pear Cider

Back in the tap handle #187 post for Red Fox, I stated how I have a soft spot for tap handles featuring a fox. Here's another that fits into that category. This is a nice tap that although doesn't have a lot of detail, it is still quite appealing.

Fox Barrel Cider was co-founded in 2004 by Bruce Nissen and Sean Deorsey in the historic railroad town of Colfax, California. Deorsey is a CPA who used to make cider at his home in San Francisco. Nissen used to sell $60 million annually in high-end industrial equipment. As the company grew rapidly, they found it difficult to obtain loans to maintain the growth. In 2010 the capital needed to expand came from the sale of the company to Crispin Cider Company. Today they brew six varieties and two limited releases. The cider-making facility has a tasting room connected where people can sample the various Fox Barrel & Crispin Cider selections.

Pacific Pear is naturally fermented using 100% pear juice, not from pear juice concentrate or pear-flavored hard apple cider. It is filtered cold for extra purity, and smoothed with pear juice. There are no added colorants, sugar, sorbate or benzoate preservatives, malt, spirit, grape or apple alcohols. It has a sparkling clean natural pear finish, and a subtle woody complexity, completed by an intense fresh pear bouquet. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.07 out of 5.

Fox Barrel Official Website

Tap Handle #192: Blue Point - Hoptical Illusion IPA

I really, really love this tap. It's got a Freemason-meets-mysticism-meets-the-70's kind of feel to it (how's that for strange?). It took two tries to get because the first one I bought arrived broken, but it all worked out since I got the second at a great price. The detail and coloring is fantastic!

Hoptical Illusion is an IPA featuring a rare hop grown exclusively on a small farm in Oregon. It is brewed with a generous amount of this select hop that is added five different ways for maximum hop flavor. The delicious, resiny, citrus-burst is the “Essence of the Hop” which is balanced by a malty backbone yielding an intense, golden ale. Recommended food pairings are Thai curry, peppery cheeses, poultry, and fish. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.44 out of 5.

For more about Blue Point, see this post.

Tap Handle #191: Tallgrass - Buffalo Sweat Stout

This is one of the most beautiful taps I've ever seen. Unlike other taps that were mass-produced in China, Tallgrass taps are painted by hand. It's rare and expensive, but worth every penny - the color and detail are amazing, making it another one of my top taps.

Tallgrass Brewing was founded in 2007 by Jeff and Tricia Gill in Manhattan, Kansas. Jeff Gill was a geologist and had been an avid homebrewer for six years, and in 2006, he and Tricia quit their jobs and moved to the Flint Hills and Tallgrass Prairie area of Manhattan. Jeff started by making test batches at Topeka’s Blind Tiger, allowing him to brew his home recipe that would become Tallgrass Ale. Later that year, he opened the brewery in a copper-clad building. The brewery now has 5 core brands and 14 employees and has attributed recent growth to their wholesale partners and the use of 16 oz. cans. They distribute in 13 states across the Midwest, East Coast, and South. They've also been winning awards: Oasis, an ESB, won a gold medal at the 2011 U.S. Beer Open.

Buffalo Sweat is a sweet stout with a smooth creaminess and no bitterness, attributed to the use of cream sugar. It was at one time seasonal but is now produced year-round. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.34 out of 5.

Tallgrass Official Website

Tap Handle #190: Anheuser-Busch - Budweiser Playing Card Suits

I obtained this tap at a great price that was hard to pass up, so this is now part of the collection. Not a lot of detail, but still pretty unique.

For more about Budweiser, see this this post.

Tap Handle #189: Chameleon Fire Light

This is the second of my two Chameleon taps. Another rare and incredible tap. This time the chameleon is immersed in a glass of beer, but with flames at the top, and once again you can see the tail through the glass.

Fire Light is a blonde ale that has been lightly kissed by flames and has a toasty malt finish.Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.34 out of 5.

For more about Chameleon, see this post.

Tap Handle #188: Chameleon Witty

This is an awesome tap. It features a chameleon holding an orange slice, half-submerged in a glass of beer...you can see its tail inside the glass. The details and color are fantastic. This is the first of two Chameleon taps I own. Very rare, and very gorgeous. One of my top taps.

Chameleon is a side project of Randy Sprecher, owner of Sprecher Brewing, and was founded in 2010 in Glendale, Wisconsin. He claims that he is able to experiment more, and since Chameleon's labels don't mention Sprecher Brewing, it's very likely that Randy Sprecher wants to see how Chameleon beers are received, without affecting his own brewery's reputation. There are four varieties, which are brewed at Sprecher's facility. Witty is a Belgian white ale with notes of orange and coriander, and won a gold medal at the 2012 U.S. Open Beer Championship. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.89 out of 5.

Chameleon Brewing Official Website

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tap Handle #187: Red Fox Pale Ale

Due to the fact that I own a Pomeranian, which resembles a small fox, I have a soft spot for taps that feature a fox. Being a foreign tap from a small brewery, it is rare and hard to come by. The fox has nice detail and is pretty to look at.

Click through to read more about Red Fox Brewing and their Pale Ale...

Tap Handle #186: Bottle Tree Blonde

This is an awesome tap...I knew I had to have it the first moment I saw it. All the little blue bottles, the sign, and barbed wire, add great touches to the detail. A fantastic and rare tap. On the right you'll find some conceptual artwork that taphandles.com created when designing it.

Bottle Tree was founded in Tryon, North Carolina in 2009 by Fred Block. Block, a controls engineer for General Electric in Greenville, had been researching thermodynamics in 2003 when he got hooked by home brewing. Six years later he was forming Bottle Tree. Rejected by banks and other breweries, Fred risked his personal life savings to make it happen. He had no idea how his beer would be brewed until a chance meeting with the owners of Thomas Creek at an Oktoberfest celebration. Thomas Creek, a huge contract brewer in South Carolina, agreed to brew his beer under contract.

The brewery's name comes from an old legend, in which bottles hung on tree branches trap evil spirits at night, and dawn’s first light destroys them. The idea dates back a few thousand years, and is believed to have originated in the Middle East, then passed on to Africa, and eventually to Europe and the southern United States during the slave trade.Block stumbled upon his first bottle tree in 2002 while researching Southern folk art. At the time, he was looking for a symbol to represent his homebrewing hobby, and although the bottle was a natural parallel to his beer, he felt a deeper connection: It was less than a year since Sept. 11, when “people were looking for something good, and to ward off evil,” and the bottle tree was just that. Bottle Tree currently has two varieties: Belgian Blonde and Irish Imperial Red Ale, and is distributed across the south and the east coast.

Bottle Tree Blonde is a Belgian blonde ale with a blend of 4 malted grains, noble hops, and Belgian yeast. Recommended food pairings are shrimp, andouille sausage, gumbo, jambalaya, crayfish, crab, fish, alligator, collard greens, turnips, ham, pit BBQ, fried green tomatoes, and any spicy foods. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.84 out of 5.

Bottle Tree Official Website