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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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tap Handle #131: Blue Point - Blueberry Ale

I featured this tap in my "welcome to the blog" post. The blue color really makes the tap pop, although I think this is another tap that would benefit from a matte finish.

Blue Point Blueberry Ale is a summer seasonal ale with 132 pounds of blueberries added to each batch brewed. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.06 out of 5.

Fore more about Blue Point Brewing, see this post.

Tap Handle #130: Grand Canyon Brewing - Horseshoe Bend Pale Ale


Awesome detail and a matte finish make this a great tap. There's just something about cattle skulls that I find appealing. I have acquired a Horseshoe Bend Pale Ale label to put on one side of the tap...on the other side I will not label it, and leave the "Property of the Grand Canyon Brewing Company" because it's humorous and unique.

The Grand Canyon Brewing Company was founded in Williams, Arizona in 2007 by John and Josh Peasley, who were both under 26 years old. They started as a local brewpub offering pints at Cruiser's. Interest grew quickly and other companies asked about offering Grand Canyon beer. They now distribute all over the state of Arizona. They brew eight varieties of beer and occasionally offer seasonals. The brewpub is only open on weekends, but their beer can still be bought at Cruiser's. All the brewpub furniture, shelves, and pool table are made from hand-carved Ponderosa Pine, crafted by the Peasley brothers.

Horseshoe Bend is a pale ale with a fragrant bouquet and spicy flavor. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.91 out of 5.

Grand Canyon Brewing Official Website

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tap Handle #129: Skull Coast - Maelstrom

This was originally #15 on my first wishlist, and I was all too happy to obtain it. The design is fantastic, from the skull & crossbones on the top to map of the Carolina coast on the base. Just a really appealing tap, and I love it. The reverse side has no label, but is designed so that a different one can be put on it, so you just reverse the tap to make it a different variety. Great design! I can't make up my mind whether I want Gallows Point, Sea Witch, Scallywag, Dubloon, or Black Bart on it.

Skull Coast Ale Company was founded in 2009 as an LLC in Fort Mill, South Carolina by Dave Fox. Homebrewing became a creative outlet, and the brand was born in a small Charleston library after looking at a local map drawn in the 1700's, during the Golden Age of Piracy, with the words "Skull Coast" etched along the Carolina coastline. Without the investment dollars needed to start his own brewery, the Skull Coast Ale Company contracted with other breweries to produce its beer recipes, and marketed the products under the Skull Coast name. After months of recipe development and searching for a brewery to contract with, Fox brewed Skull Coast's first beer (Maelstrom IPA) on St. Patrick's Day, 2010, in Virginia. Traveling back and forth between South Carolina and Virginia to brew and transport kegs caused Fox to seek out a second contract brewing relationship closer to home. Unfortunately, every Carolina brewery Fox approached was at or near capacity. In the first of its kind contract model, Fox purchased his own 60bbl fermenter and bright tanks, and placed them in another brewery. Experimenting with innovative twists on established styles, his recipes have lead Skull Coast to being courted by distributors in 18 states & counting.

Maelstrom IPA’s very name and style comes from the Sea. Tall ships on long voyages needed a big beer with a hearty backbone and pounds and pounds of glorious hops. Maelstrom IPA is a brilliant whirlpool of 7 different Northwest hops expertly melded together to create a powerful pint. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.39 out of 5.

Skull Coast Brewing Official Website

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tap Handle #128: Shipyard - Double Old Thumper Ale

This is a very rare tap. Shipyard's regular Old Thumper tap, with a single boar's head, is more common. The detail and matte paint job on the boar heads is excellent.

The Shipyard Brewing Company was founded in Kennebunkport Harbor in 1992, by entrepreneur Fred Forsley and master brewer Alan Pugsley when they started Federal Jack's Restaurant & Brew Pub. The craft brew industry was just starting in Maine and Pugsley had moved there from England where he'd learned to brew under the legendary Peter Austin at the world-famous Ringwood Brewery in Hampshire. Just two years later, demand outpaced the brewing capacity at the pub and Forsley and Pugsley opened the Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland in 1994 on the site of the former Crosby Laughlin Foundry. By 1996, the company was the fastest growing craft brewery in the country. Shipyard Brewing Company is ranked as the 19th largest craft beer company in the U.S. and 28th overall. Maine's largest brewery produces 17 varieties of English style and seasonal ales and 7 flavors of hand-crafted Capt'n Eli's Soda, and is available in 38 states. Shipyard operates several restaurants and contract breweries; they are partners with the Sea Dog Brewing Company and Casco Bay Brewing Company, and also produces beer under contract for Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company, as well as an American version of Old Thumper under license from Ringwood Brewery. Shipyard is also brewed at the Shipyard Emporium in Winter Park, Florida.

Double Old Thumper is the big brother of the British Grand Champion beer Old Thumper Extra Special Ale, which was created in 1979 by Peter Austin. Double Old Thumper was created by Pugsley and has 11.2% alcohol by volume. It has a brilliant deep copper hue and spicy hop aroma with a complex malty finish, and pairs well with short ribs, lamb, hearty stews, and casseroles. When Pugsley was brewing Old Thumper at Ringwood Brewery in the 1980s it was considered a very strong ale and, by English standards, it still is. Double Old Thumper is literally twice the strength, twice the grist, and twice the hops of Old Thumper. In homage to Old Thumper, the package (and tap) features a likeness of two of the famous Ringwood boars heads. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.07 out of 5.

Shipyard Brewing Official Website

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tap Handle #127: Lucette - Easy Rider Pale Ale

Tap size:  9.5"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

This tap is a real beauty. The detail is amazing...check out the rims of the tire and the clothing as examples of the fine work. The pretty girl pictured is "Lucette", the sweetheart of the mythical character Paul Bunyan. She is well-sculpted, and multiple finishes were used throughout, from the semi-gloss of Lucette's skin, to a matte finish for the metal and her clothing. The brewery has several other taps featuring Lucette, but I think the face sculpting on this tap is better than some of the others. The tap is extremely rare, I've only ever seen a couple others.

Click through to read more about Lucette, their Easy Rider Pale Ale, and to see more photos of this stunning tap...

Tap Handle #126: Jester King - Das Wunderkind!

This is definitely one of my favorite taps, the detail is excellent, and a matte finish was used for a superior look. I acquired one for Kelly too, as it is one of his favorites.

Jester King was founded in Austin, Texas in 2011 by Jeff Stuffings. Stuffings starting home brewing in 2003 and it became an obsession, eventually resulting in leaving his day job and brewing full-time. He bought a 200 acre ranch in the Texas hill country just outside of Austin, and built a 6500 square foot barn-style brewery. Jester King is a somewhat unique brewer in that they age some of their beers in oak barrels. Jester King's biggest accomplishment to date might be their challenge against antiquated Texas laws. They took the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) to court and won the ability to tell customers where their beer is sold, and they can actually call their product beer. However, they are still looking for the right to sell their beer to stores and bars without a distributor, and to let customers sample it in a tasting room (which wineries are allowed to do). Texas really has some unfriendly brewing laws! Jester King brews five year-round and four limited beers.

Das Wunderkind! is a traditional, sour, low-gravity saison aged in oak barrels brewed on a limited basis. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.59 out of 5.

Jester King Official Website

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tap Handle #125: Budweiser - Slot Machine with Gold Coins

A pretty rare tap, this is one of two slot machine taps produced by Budweiser. I actually like this one better due to the gold coins spilling out the front. Each gold coin has the Budweiser "bowtie" symbol on it.

For more about Budweiser, see this post.

Tap Handle #124: Humpback Premium Ale

This is a whale of a tap. Sorry, I couldn't resist. A really beautiful tap that is extremely rare. According to a young lady that wrote the blog, she and her mother hand-painted these for the brewery in 1996. Because they were hand-painted, no two of the 250 taps are alike.

When I was in school during the 90s, I had to take a science class with a lab, so I chose Oceanography. One part of the class was a trip to the Oregon Coast to look at tide pools and go out on a boat for whale watching. That was the best class I ever took. This tap brings back memories of that class, making it one of my favorite and most prized taps.

Humpback Premium Ale was founded in Cerritos, California in 1996. It was actually brewed and bottled under contract by a brewery in St. Paul, Minnesota. However, it didn't last long and the brewery closed in 1998. That's all the information I could find about it, and explains why the tap is so rare.

Tap Handle #123: Leinenkugel - Autumn Gold Lager

This tap has a unique way to change labels...you merely unscrew the top, slip a label inside, and re-attach. A tap that includes a full set of labels is really valuable, as you can make the tap into whatever variety you want: Original, Berry Weiss, etc. Since you aren't sticking a label on it with an adhesive back, it's easy to change and there's no mess to clean up if you do. It's really a very ingenious design.

Leinenkugel was founded in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin in 1867 by Jacob Leinenkugel, an immigrant of Bavaria and from a family of brewmasters. The first beer was "Original" and currently makes up 40% of sales. By 1890 the brewery was doing so well that Leinenkugel invested in new facilities. He built a new brewery, a three-story malthouse, a barn to house the delivery horses, and several other buildings. When Jacob Leinenkugel died in 1899, the business passed to his son Matt.. During Prohibition, the company produced near beer known as "Leino" as well as soda water, and resumed brewing after Prohibition ended. When the United States entered World War II, rationing and labor shortages caused other breweries to raise their prices, but Leinenkugel kept its prices the same. After the war, the company invested again in new equipment. In 1955 Leinenkugel installed glass-lined fermentation tanks at its brewery, and these were the first of their kind in use in the United States.

The company opened a hospitality center in 1980, with a small museum and gift shop, and began offering tours of the brewery. Miller Brewing bought the company in 1988, and formed a unit called the American Specialty and Craft Beer Company, which also included the Celis Brewery in Austin, Texas, and Shipyard Brewing. Leinenkugel has two breweries: the original, located in Chippewa Falls, and the 10th Street Brewery in Milwaukee. The 10th Street Brewery, opened in 1986 by Heileman Brewing for the Blatz label, was purchased by Leinenkugel in 1995. Leinenkugel is still run by fifth-generation descendants of Jacob Leinenkugel, with three brothers in top positions, including president, and is distributed throughout the United States, though it is most frequently found in the Midwest.

Autumn Gold Lager was a seasonal pale lager only brewed for two months a year. It has been retired since 2000-2001. It was brewed with 7 varieties of malted barley and 2 varieties of hops. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.43 out of 5.

Leinenkugal Official Website

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tap Handle #122: Thirsty Dog - Old Leg Humper

I love this tap. There is another beer manufacturer that uses a bone as its tap, but they can't top Thirsty Dog's beer names like Old Leghumper or Stud Service. There are a few other varieties of Thirsty Dog taps that have the name on the bone itself, but most simply appear on the label.

Finding information on Thirsty Dog is incredibly difficult. There's nothing about their history on their website. From what I was able to piece together, Thirsty Dog was founded in 1997 in Ohio. In the 2000s several Ohio breweries fell on hard times and closed; Thirsty Dog went to contract brewing with the Frederick Brewery in Maryland. In 2006 business began to improve, and in 2007 Thirsty Dog moved production back to Akron at the site of the old Burkhardt Brewery. There's no brewpub at the brewery but there is a tasting room. Their beers have won several awards, and business has grown each year. Thirsty Dog brews 16 varieties including 5 seasonals.

Old Leghumper is a Porter with a dark brown color and two kinds of roasted malts, including a chocolate malt, that give it a rich chocolate taste. It won a gold medal in the 2002 World beer Cup. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.52 out of 5.

Thirsty Dog Official Website

Tap Handle #121: Landshark Premium Lager

This tap has both an 11" and a 7" variety; mine is the 11". I've wanted this tap for years and I finally acquired one.

Landshark is brewed by Anheuser-Busch at their Jacksonville brewery for the Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville restaurant chain, and the beer is also distributed across the country. Landshark was first brewed in 2006 as A-B's attempt to muscle in on Corona's market share. What better way to eat into that market share than to nab the man that Corona had been sponsoring for years? Landshark is a pale lager with a hint of lime. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 1.81 out of 5.

Landshark Official Website

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tap Handle #120: Miller - MGD Microphone

There are a few different breweries that have produced microphone taps. This one by Miller is really a beauty of a tap. Maybe it was circulated in the Memphis area?

Miller Genuine Draft (MGD) was introduced in 1985 as the original cold filtered packaged draft beer, which means that the beer is not pasteurized. MGD received the gold medal in the American-style Premium Lager category at the 1999 World Beer Cup. It also received the silver medal at the 2003 American Beer Festival. The concept for cold-filtered Miller Genuine Draft was developed by product consultant Calle & Company. Martin Calle evolved the concept from Miller's New Ventures effort to launch a new dry beer at a time Miller Brewing was in danger of becoming a much-cloned light beer manufacturer. Originally introduced as "Miller High Life Genuine Draft", the "High Life" part of the name was soon dropped. MGD is actually made from the same recipe as Miller High Life but with a different treatment. It was developed to give High Life drinkers the same taste in a can or bottle as they found in non-pasteurized kegs.

For for about Miller Brewing, see this post.

Tap Handle #119: Long Trail - Double Bag

A whimsical tap featuring conjoined cows, hence the name Double Bag. The detail and painting are excellent.

Long Trail Brewery was founded in 1989 in Bridgewater, Vermont by Andy Pherson. He started the brewery in the basement of the old Bridgewater Woolen Mill in Vermont’s Green Mountains. His goal was to brew and sell beer that would be an American-made alternative to imported German and English ales. At that time, the brewery was called the Mountain Brewers. While contemplating new names, Pherson passed a Long Trail hiking trail marker. The Long Trail is a 272 mile hiking trail that runs the length of Vermont, and would be a great marketing tie-in to the brewery. In May 1990, Long Trail obtained a Vermont distributor, and Long Trail Ale has been Vermont’s best selling amber ale. The brewery outgrew the mill site and moved to the current location along the banks of the Ottauqueechee River in 1995, with a brewpub and visitor center on site. The visitor center has an estimated 72,000 visitors each year, making the brewery one of Vermont’s most frequented attractions. Pherson retired in 2006, but Long Trail is still privately owned. They make a number of different styles of beer, and seasonals as well, and Long Trail is now distributed in 13 states in the Northeast. . In 2010, Long Trail Brewing Company acquired Otter Creek Brewing and with it Wolaver's Organic Brewery.

Double Bag is a "Stickebier" Strong Ale (a "secret brew" that is a close cousin to an Altbier), with a malty body balanced by 3 noble hops. Recommended food pairings are smoked meats, pork, sausage, and grilled meats. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.49 out of 5.

Long Trail Official Website

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tap Handle #118: Urthel - Superior Special Ale

This is an extremely rare tap from Belgium. I believe it's used for both the Hop-It and Samaranth varieties as they both have this same label. The guy holding the sign is supposed to be a gnome, based on fairy-tale creatures created and illustrated by one of the owners.

Urthel was founded in Ruiselede, West Flanders, Belgium in 2000 by the husband and wife team of Hildegard and Bas van Ostaden. Hildegard is the brewer and Bas designs the artwork and packaging. They've managed to become two of the most well-known brewers in Belgium, producing 3 highly-rated beers. They have brewed other varieties that have since been retired, and Hildegard loves to experiment with her recipes. Their first brewery was at Van Steenberge, but since 2006 all their beers are brewed at Koningshoeven, in Tilburg, Holland.

Hop-It is a strong Belgian IPA loaded with hops for a spicy, fruity flavor, and has a weighted average on ratebeer.com of 3.58 out of 5. Samaranth is a Quadrupel special ale with notes of dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, and marzipan, and has a weighted average on ratebeer.com of 3.59 out of 5.

Urthel Official English Website

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tap Handle #117: Hale's - Cream Ale

I remember sitting in Ivar's Salmon House on Lake Union in Seattle with my family last fall, gazing at the one Ivar's had on tap...I really liked it. Then I obtained one in perfect condition. This is a very heavy tap because it's ceramic, unlike most taps which are resin or wood. Since it's ceramic, it is prone to chipping or cracking. If you notice the label says Seattle and Spokane, that's significant because it is no longer brewed in Spokane.

Hale's Ale was founded in 1983 in Colville, Washington by Mike Hale. After a trip to England in which he worked alongside brewers there, Hale returned to the Northwest and opened his brewery with a pale ale, later adding a Special Bitter and a Porter. Business took off, and in 1986 Hale opened a second location in Kirkland and introduced 3 more ales, including a Stout. Business was so good that Hale continued to have supply problems, and was forced to move the Colville location to an old school building in Spokane in 1991. In 1995 the Kirkland operation was moved to the Fremont/Ballard District of Seattle, and the Spokane location was closed. The Seattle location also allowed Hale to open a brewpub on the site. Currently Hale's is distributed across the Northwest and bottles four varieties year-round, as well as offering seasonals on tap.

Hale's Cream Ale is a blond Dublin-style ale, smooth and creamy and using Yakima hops. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.0 out of 5.

Hale's Official Website

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tap Handle #116: Keegan Ales - Old Capital

This is not one of my top taps, but I still really like it. The only difference between varieties is in the label.

Keegan Ales was founded in 2003 in Kingston, New York by Tommy Keegan. One Father's Day Tommy bought his father a home brewing kit. Intrigued at the possibilities, he attended the University of California - Davis for their Master Brewers program. He bought the defunct Woodstock Brewery and was soon up and running. Keegan Ales brews three main beers and production is small.

Old Capital is a golden/blond ale named for the fact that Kingston was once the capital of New York before the British burned it down. It is more complex and robust than a lager and has a subtle, sweet cereal note. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.82 out of 5.

Keegan Ales Official Website

Tap Handle #115: Coors Light Rattlesnake Tail

Hot on the heels of the Coors rattlesnake head is...the Coors Light tail. It matches the color of the head perfectly. It would look great having the two taps sitting side by side...

Tap Handle #114: Coors Rattlesnake

Tap size:  10.75"
Rarity:  Very Rare
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder...this has to be one of the most beautiful taps in the collection, whether you like snakes or not! The paint job and color scheme are fantastic (including the creepy green eyes), and the gloss finish feels right at home on this deadly reptile. Coors would often pair their regular beer's tap with a Coors Light tap so that together they were part of a theme. That is the case here where the Coors Light version is the snake's tail (which you will see in the next post). The tap is extremely rare, so be prepared to pay quite a premium for it...if you can find it.

Click through to see more photos of this beautiful tap...

Tap Handle #113: Redhook - Late Harvest

This is a gorgeous tap. I have to give Redhook credit, they have more great figural taps than almost anyone in the business.

First introduced in 2005, Late Harvest is a fall seasonal amber ale brewed in both the Woodinville and Portsmouth locations. It has a chestnut color and roasted malt aroma and flavor, the result of using four different malts. It's meant to be a little heavier as fall brings cooler weather and drinkers want something more robust. Recommended food pairings are grilled burgers and other "tailgating" foods. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.97 out of 5.

For more about Redhook, see this post.

Tap Handle #112: Mercury Brewing - Ipswich Original Ale

As I have mentioned previously, I like collecting nautical items. This tap fits that theme with a pier post wrapped with rope and ship on top.

Ipswich Brewing was founded in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1991 by Paul Sylva and Jim Beauvais. They initially brewed Ipswich Ale and Dark Ale, then added an IPA, Outmeal Stout, Porter, and Nut Brown. Ipswich formed an alliance with United States Beverage in 1997 for sales and marketing support, and then United States Beverage purchased Ipswich, running it as a separately owned and operated entity. In 1999, a former employee of the original owners, named Rob Martin, purchased the brewery from Sylva and Beauvais, and renamed it Mercury Brewing. He also purchased the Stone Cat brand, and began brewing sodas as well. In 2002 Mercury started contract brewing with Cisco Brewing, then expanded contract brewing to include Endurance Brewing, Cape Ann Brewing, Z street, Opa-Opa, John Harvard's, Hook & Ladder, Offshore, Sherwood Forest, and Kennebeck River. In 2003 Mercury purchased its Ipswich brand back from United States Beverage and was once again independently owned and operated. Mercury currently brews 47 beers and 19 sodas, and is remodeling an old clam packing plant which will become its new home in June and will double brewing capacity.

Ipswich Ale is an English style pale ale with subtle hoppiness and a malty flavor that Wine Spectator Magazine voted one of the world's 10 best beers. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.2 out of 5.

Ipswich Brewery Official Website

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tap Handle #111: Gordon Biersch - Czech Pilsner

This is a very nice tap, featuring a brewmaster drinking straight from a barrel tap, and the "never trust a skinny brewer" caption on the barrel is quite funny. All varieties are similar, with the difference being the "label" on the stand. The whole tap unscrews into multiple pieces, which allows the piece with the variety name to be changed out for another.

Gordon Biersch Brewing was found by Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch in 1987. Gordon had completed a 5 year brewing program at The Technical University of Munich, the most renowned brewing school in the world, and was in high demand. Biersch was looking to open a restaurant & brewery chain. They were introduced and agreed to produce beer according to the German Purity Law of 1516, using a special yeast imported from Germany. in 1988 they opened The Gordon Biersch Brewery restaurant in Palo Alto, California. In 1995 the two founders and their investors were looking to expand the business and accepted an $11.2 million investment from the Fertitta family of Las Vegas, who became the controlling owners. The investment allowed the building of a new brewery and bottling plant in San Jose by 1997. The restaurant business also expanded, with Gordon Biersch opening 29 locations and 18 states and Washington D.C., and even two locations in Taiwan. In 1999 the restaurants were sold to Big River Brewing. In 2010 the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group merged with Rock Bottom Restaurants to form CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries (I first mentioned CraftWorks in Tap Handle post #52, as Boulder Beer does contract brewing for them). Over the years Gordon Biersch beers have won many medals, including several gold.

Czech Pilsner is a golden beer first brewed in the Czech town of Pilsen in 1872 when a special yeast was smuggled out of Germany by a Czech monk. Pilsen is famous for its hops, which along with pilsner malt is imported for this beer. Recommended food pairings are spicy foods, especially Thai, Mexican and Chinese. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.84 out of 5.

Gordon Biersch Official Website

Tap Handle #110: John J. Kelly's - Traditional Irish Hard Cider

I had to get this tap because it shares a name with my best friend Kelly, who was the driving force behind many of the early acquisitions in the collection. In case you were wondering, the tap is made to look like a sheleighle (an Irish walking stick).

John J. Kelly's was founded in 1997 by Brendan Daly from Dublin and John Cronin from Kerry. Hard cider is an ancient drink going back to the time of the Celts. Daly had made cider for several years prior to founding John J. Kelly's. His idea was to produce the cider in bulk and ship it to the U.S. to be bottled. Hard cider at one time was more popular than beer in the U.S. During Prohibition, production of hard cider ended and orchards of the bittersweet apples used for hard cider were chopped down. After Prohibition, beer became more popular thanks to lobbying efforts and the speed at which barley could be grown compared to trying to regrow orchards. In the 1990s, demand in the U.S. was taking off due to thousands of young Irish who immigrated to America in the 1980s. John J. Kelly's is bottled under license by the Florida Beer Company in Melbourne, Florida. A raspberry hard cider is also produced.

John J. Kelly's Traditional Irish Hard Cider is made with 4 different kinds of apples and is a crisp, light, dry cider. It won gold medals from the North America Brewers Association in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2007, and a silver medal in 2011. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.61 out of 5.

John J. Kelly's Official Website

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tap Handle #109: Olde Burnside - Dirty Penny Ale

This tap is just gorgeously stunning. The penny is supposed to be a 1937 English penny. There's lots of great detail, from the sword and Celtic cross, to the plants at the foot of the sword.

The Burnside Ice Company was founded in 1911 by a Scotsman named Albert McClellan. He was the leading supplier of ice to homes in the Hartford, Connecticut area. The business passed to his son Clifford, and then to Clifford's son Bob. Bob remembered his grandfather speaking of ales back then. They usually sold for a nickel, but occasionally a finer brew would be sold for a dime, or ten pennies. Bob dreamed of becoming a brewer and making a "ten penny" quality ale. In 1994 Bob discovered that the aquifer that produced water for his ice business was also suited for brewing beer. Bob decided to open a brewery and picked up some used equipment from the defunct Wyoming Brewing Company. It was assembled in a four-bay truck garage in the ice plant. Ten Penny Ale became their signature beer, and they also brew 7 other varieties, including seasonals.

Dirty Penny Ale is a Black & Tan style beer, which is a mixture of 60% Ten Penny Ale and 40% Stout. Recommended food pairings are steak, venison, game birds, sausage, and Roquefort cheese. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.08 out of 5.

Olde Burnside Official Website

Tap Handle #108: Belfast Bay Lobster Ale

This is a fantastic tap, and one of the most popular on the site based on the number of page hits. It has a thick, hard feel to it - almost like a real shell. It could use some highlighting and a matte finish to make it look more real, but there's no denying that it's a great tap just the way it is.

Belfast Bay Brewing was founded in Belfast, Maine in 1996 by Pat Mullen. He opened a brewery and brewpub and brewed 11 different beers, bottling them by hand. He got tired of the bottling and struck a deal with Miller, who partially owned Shipyard Brewing, to have the beers bottled in Portland. Soon the brewing operation moved to Portland as well. Eventually the Belfast brewery and brewpub were closed, and Mullen went into distribution of the beer he had once made.

Lobster Ale is an amber ale with a big, fruity nose and an apple-pear character. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.98 out of 5.

Belfast Bay Official Website

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tap Handle #107: Thomas Creek - Deep Water Dopplebock Lager

Despite Thomas Creek being a large brewery, this is a very rare tap. I had to have this simply because I share a name with this brewery, and I love the waterfall.

Thomas Creek was founded in 1998 in Greenville, South Carolina by Tom Davis. Davis was an experienced brewer, having worked in food and beverage for many years. He began to homebrew and perfected the base recipe for what would become River Falls Red Ale. Brewing is as much an art as a science and Tom continued to fine tune this and many other recipes. Bill Davis, Tom's father, decided they should embark on brewing handcrafted beer. They started commercial production at a former brewpub in downtown Greenville until 1998. During that summer, the Davis pair found a large batch brewhouse they couldn't resist. With Bill's architectural help designing the microbrewery, in early July of 1998 they rolled out their first Thomas Creek beers. Today Thomas Creek brews 8 beers year-round and several seasonals. They've also built themselves up into a large contract brewing establishment, brewing for companies such as Charleston Brewing, Sapphire Mountain Brewing, and Wild Heaven Brewing.

Deep Water Dopplebock is described as a German-style dark lager with a creamy flavor and notes of roasted nuts, coffee, and chocolate, and it won silver medals in the 2003 World Beer Championships and the 2008 Great American Beer Festival. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.09 out of 5.

Thomas Creek Official Website

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tap Handle #106 - St. George - Porter

All St. George taps are color-coded...by that I mean that Stout has a red dragon, Pilsner is a green dragon, IPA is a blue dragon, etc. In the case of my tap, Porter is an orange dragon. A great tap any way you color it.

St. George was founded in Hampton, Virginia in 1991 by a father and son team, in the store-front of a strip mall. They were able to grow the brand over the years, becoming the second-largest brewery in Virginia, and recently moved into a 10,000 square foot facility. St. George Porter is a black, ruby-colored ale with tones of caramel and chocolate. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.51 out of 5.

St. George Brewing Official Website

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tap Handle #105: Angry Orchard - Crisp Apple

This is an extraordinary tap, probably one of my favorites. The detail is amazing and it has a matte finish instead of high gloss. This is the smaller of the two varieties (this one is 9"). I have since acquired the 11" tap, and gave the smaller one to Kelly. It is the most popular tap on this site.

Angry Orchard is a division of Boston Beer Company, and makes 3 varieties of hard cider. The first batch was released for sale in fall of 2011 and sales have been brisk. It is distributed mostly in the eastern states, but does get as far west as Colorado. Crisp Apple is described as the sweetness of apples mixed with a dryness for a balanced taste. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.01 out of 5.

Angry Orchard Official Website

Tap Handle #104: Jailhouse Brewing - Mugshot IPA

Excellent detail on this tap - note the texture on the surface of the "metal" on the ball and chain, and the black and white stripes representing a prison uniform. The Jailhouse tap represents another contribution from my dad to the collection. He sent me an article about a Seattle company that contracts production of taps to be made in Chinese factories. One of the taps cited as an example was this Jailhouse tap. I immediately managed to locate one. Timing is everything, and had my dad not seen and sent me the article, I might not have this tap in the collection.

Jailhouse Brewing was founded in 2008 in Hampton, Georgia by Glenn Golden. Purchasing and rebuilding the old Hampton Jailhouse, which was built in the 1920s, Golden stocked it with equipment from the defunct Buckhead Brewery. He learned brewing from the American Brewer's Guild, and a five-week stint at the Yazoo Brewery in Nashville. The Jailhouse remodel was extensive to bring the building up to code; it had also  been a fire station, courthouse, masonic lodge, and sandwich shop over the years. The most difficult part was obtaining the license to brew from the State of Georgia, which Golden described as "a nightmare". However, the license was obtained and Jailhouse began brewing beer in 2009. The brewery makes 3 year-round beers and have plans for several seasonals called the Solitary Confinement series, with hilarious names like Hop Riot and Conjugal Visit Red Ale.

Mugshot IPA has an "arresting" lineup of hops, balanced by a blend of hops and demerera sugar. Suggested food pairings are sharp cheddar cheeses, pork bbq, fried dill pickles, pizza, and curry dishes. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.25 out of 5.

Jailhouse Brewing Official Website

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tap Handle 103: Anheuser-Busch - Doc's Hard Lemon

This tap is somewhat rare, as not too many bars tended to carry Doc's on tap. Also, there's something about the construction - maybe the resin's too thin, or there's not enough support between the lemons - but it's not uncommon to find cracks on this tap. Mine is in excellent condition.

Doc's Hard Lemon was created by Anheuser-Busch in 2000 in response to Mike's Hard Lemonade, which was created in 1999. Doc's had a pretty good run for a specialty beverage - 10 years - but in 2010 Anheuser-Busch pulled the plug and Doc's is no longer made. There is no entry for Doc's on ratebeer.com, so no ratings are being provided. And since Doc's is deceased, there's no website to post either.

Tap Handle #102: Czechvar

This tap makes you think about castle towers or chess playing pieces. The detail is excellent - each brick of the tower has been sculpted. Also, the painting is well-done, especially the choice of a matte finish over a high-gloss finish, which I am always harping on. Definitely the work of a talented artist.

Czechvar is brewed by Budweiser Budvar in the Czech Republic. It's not the Budweiser you're probably thinking of, though. The original Budweiser beer was founded in 1785 in Budweis, Bohemia. In 1876 Anheuser-Busch began using the name after Adolphus Busch returned from a trip to Europe. In 1895 a third company named Budvar also began using the name Budweiser. A trademark battle took place over the years between all three companies and the name Budweiser. In 2007 a settlement was reached in which the American Budweiser would be sold as Bud in Europe, and the Budvar Budweiser would be sold in the U.S. as Czechvar. In 2010 Anheuser-Busch lost its final appeal and must continue to use Bud in Europe.

Czechvar is a Bohemian-style Pilsener that is recognized by critics as one of the world's best. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.2 out of 5.

Czechvar Official Website