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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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tap Handle #152: Hook & Ladder - Lighter

This is a great-looking tap in the shape of a flame. Each purchase of this tap goes to a burn victim fund, so it was an easy choice for me to buy a few of these and resell them. I didn't make any money doing it, but it's for a good cause, so that's okay.

Hook & Ladder began in 1994 in San Francisco, California by east coast native Rich Fleischer. He brewed his first batch of beer in his kitchen. By 1999 Fleischer had formed Hook & Ladder, selling Grassfire Wheat (currently sold as Hook & Ladder Golden Ale) and Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown. Matt Fleischer joined his brother Rich in San Francisco to help grow the Hook & Ladder brand. In 2001 Hook & Ladder Golden Ale won a gold medal in the American Style Wheat category at the Great American Beer Festival, beating out 52 other entries. By 2002, Hook & Ladder had built a loyal following and landed a distribution partner, but lack of capital forced Rich and Matt to halt production.

The brothers returned to the East Coast, where Matt enrolled in the Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. In 2005, after a two and a half year hiatus, the business re-launched as Hook & Ladder Brewing Company, No. 2 with more capital.  The company also implemented its philanthropic program, "A Penny in Every Pint", in which funds from every sale went to burn victims. Statistics show that Hook & Ladder is one of the fastest-growing craft brewers in the country, increasing its distribution to 27 states with 110 distribution partners. They currently brew three varieties of beer, as well as three seasonals.

Hook & Ladder Lighter is a light ale containing only 94 calories in a 12-ounce bottle, with a light body and a faint aroma of fruitiness. Recommended food pairings are seafood, sharp cheeses, and pizza. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.07 out of 5.

Hook & Ladder Official Website

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tap Handle #151: Mission - Shipwrecked Double IPA

I originally had my eye on the Mission Blonde Ale tap, which is similar to this one. But when a chance came up to obtain both taps, I jumped at the chance. It's a great tap, with a mission-shaped top and three little bells inside that actually ring!

Mission Brewing was founded in 2007 in San Diego, California by Dan Selis. Originally located less than a mile from the very hill where Friar Junipero Serra and his scurvy-ridden crew drove their stake into the ground, Mission Brewery was born in the early 20th century, but was shut down by Prohibition. Selis was a mortgage banker and  homebrewer, whose beers were winning local and state competitions. He decided to resurrect the Mission brand name, and approached Miami Grille owner Basil Hernandez about revitalizing the old equipment on the site. They had to repair, replace and/or repurify virtually everything in sight. With a cold room that held at an even 80 degrees, they couldn’t even store any beer that they made. However, after a lot of work, they turned the restaurant into a brewhouse.

Eventually Selis needed to expand and moved into the old Wonderbread factory. Recovering the original Mission recipes, he began to brew several varieties, although the Shipwrecked double IPA was his own creation. He won three gold medals, 3 silver, and 2 bronze in competitions such as the Great American Brew festival. In 2011 the brewery opened a tasting room to the public. Mission Brewing is often confused with New English Brewing, who actually operates out of the original Mission Brewing building that was shut down during Prohibition.

Shipwrecked Double IPA is a balanced and hoppy beer, yet finishes as smooth as silk with no hint of high alcohol hotness usually associated with strong double IPA’s. Super citrus and grapefruit aromas and flavors abound. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.5 out of 5.

Mission Brewing Official Website

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tap Handle #150: Milwaukee Brewing - Louie's Demise Ale

I love the artwork on this label, and the chain link handle is a great feature. There's also a story behind the image on the label: "True story...1886 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, great uncle Louie was cracked over the head with a beer glass and killed. Louie's story is one of many Wisconsin tavern legends that gives life and color to our heritage. Drink one for uncle Louie and remember: today's barroom story might just be tomorrow's legend."

Milwaukee Brewing Company was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1997 by Jim McCabe. In 1996, McCabe and a friend were homebrewing in the basement of a farmhouse in Cedarburg. The next year they were able to move into the first few floors of the historic Saddlery building on the Milwaukee River, which at one time had been home to a saddle maker, then a sail maker, and the maker of the Hula Hoop. McCabe dubbed the brewpub the Milwaukee Ale House, which offered food and live music. Business grew slowly, as the Milwaukee beer market was very competitive, but in 2006 Milwaukee Brewing moved to a larger facility, and in 2008 began bottling their beers. They make 12 varieties, of which Louie's Demise is their signature beer.. In 2011 demand grew rapidly and production was increased; they even struck a deal to have Louie's Demise sold at Milwaukee Brewers baseball games, and began selling out of state. However, McCabe sold the brewpub to Mike Stoner and Duffy O'Neal, who intended to overhaul the menu; the brewpub had previously suffered poor ratings due to the use of canned and frozen food.

Louie's Demise is an amber ale balanced with a blend of specialty malts and a choice blend of hops, with toffee and caramel notes. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.21 out of 5.

When I first went to the Milwaukee Brewing website it said it had been hacked. Now it doesn't come up at all and I presume it's been taken down.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Holding Back on Tap Acquisitions

I've decided to take a break from buying taps, as I really need the money for an upcoming trip to Florida, and to get some work done on my house. So I won't be adding new taps to the collection, although I will keep the visual tour going until I leave for Orlando, which will be in early May...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tap Handle #149: Brewery Van Steenberge - Augustijn Ale

Another rare European tap that I felt I had to acquire because they just don't appear very often. This one has some great detail, from the deer on the shield attached to the brick base, to the friar with his foamy mug, and to the scroll bearing the name of the brew while being held by two cherub-like angels. This piece would be gorgeous with a matte finish instead of high gloss, but it is still a great tap.

In 1295, the Augustijner abbey of Ghent was created with the help of the ruling Borluut family. The abbey was the first of the Augustine order in the Netherlands, and became one of the most important religious, political and cultural centers of Europe in the 14th and the 15th century. In 1582, the abbey was completely ruined by the Calvinists. But shortly after that revolution, the abbey was rebuilt and again became an important religious and cultural center, until the French revolution, when the monks were expelled and the abbey was sold to the highest bidder. Napoleon, the French dictator or Emperor, needed the money to pay for all his wars and he found and stole the money from the wealthiest power at that time: the Catholic Church. After the revolution, the abbey was reestablished but it never gained its importance back (only a handful of monks remain today). In 1978 the monks, who had previously licensed the Augustijn recipe, were looking for a new partner. They chose Brewery Van Steenberge, who in 1982 added a secondary fermentation to the process. Augustijn has enjoyed steady growth ever since, adding two other varieties, Augustijn Grand Cru and Augustijn Dark.

Augustijn Ale is blond Belgian Ale, and is sometimes referred to as Augustijn Blond. It has a malty, fruity aroma and flavor, with a touch of vanilla. Recommended food pairings are semi-hard cheeses, pate, mussels, and  spicy foods. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.38 out of 5.

For more about Brewery Van Steenberge, see this post.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tap Handle #148: Hudepohl-Schoenling - Little Kings Bruin Pale Ale

This is a nice tap featuring a golden bear on top of it. It's pretty rare. It required some touching up but is in fine condition.

Hudepohl Brewing Company was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1885 by Ludwig Hudepohl II. Hudepohl was the son of Bavarian immigrants and had worked in the surgical tool business before starting his brewery. Hudepohl Brewing Company became one of many Cincinnati breweries to thrive in the 1880s. Waves of German immigrants began settling in and around Cincinnati in the 1850s and 60s. Hudepohl brewed golden lager, dark lager, seasonal bock beer and several other regional styles of lager that were popular in the German homeland. They were among the top 5 brewers in Cincinnati when Prohibition hit the nation in 1918. Hudepohl survived Prohibition by making near beer and soft drinks. In 1933, Prohibition was repealed and they quickly jumped back into the beer business. Within two years Hudepohl was clearly becoming the dominant brewer in Cincinnati. The company was selling all it could make in its home market and really didn't see an immediate need to "export" beer to other states. During World War II, Hudepohl Beer was among the beers selected by the War Department for use by U.S. troops in the Pacific. The post-war years were marked by continual expansion of Hudepohl Brewery. The company even purchased a second brewery from a local competitor and operated both plants for many years in order to keep up with demand. However, the late 1950s and early 1960s saw increased market infiltration from national brands such as Schlitz, Pabst, Blatz and Budweiser.

By 1973, Burger Brewing Company of Cincinnati announced its closure. Hudepohl stepped in and purchased the brands and recipes of Burger. In 1981, Hudepohl introduced a new super-premium brand of beer called Christian Moerlein Cincinnati Select Lager, named after a popular pre-Prohibition Cincinnati brewer. The Moerlein brand proved popular, propelled by a $1 million initial advertising budget, but did not represent enough volume to save the Hudepohl Brewing Company. In 1986, Hudepohl was sold to Schoenling Brewing Company, makers of Little Kings Cream Ale, Schoenling Lager, Top Hat Beer and Fehr's X/L. (Note: Little Kings Cream Ale was introduced in 1958 in 7 ounce green bottles, similar to Mickey's, and proved to be very popular.) For about a year the Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Company continued to operate the Hudepohl plant on Gest Street while capacity was increased at the Schoenling plant. In 1987, all beer production was moved to the Schoenling facility and the Hudepohl plant was closed. Hudepohl-Schoenling operated in Cincinnati as an independent brewer until late 1997 when the brewery was sold to Boston Beer Company, brewers of Samuel Adams Beer. Hudepohl-Schoenling brands would continue to be brewed and packaged in Cincinnati under contract by Boston Beer Company, which had renamed the Schoenling Brewery "Samuel Adams Brewery." This arrangement continued until 2001 when the contract was not renewed by Boston Beer Company.

In 1999, the Lichtendahl family, who dominated the Hudepohl-Schoenling ownership group, elected to exit the beer business. They sold to Cleveland-based Crooked River Brewing Company, which eventually became Snyder International Brewing Group. Snyder International also purchased Frederick Brewing Company of Frederick, Maryland in 1999. The Frederick brewery was underutilized and so production of bottled and draft Hudepohl-Schoenling brands shifted to the Frederick brewery. In 2004, Gregory Hardman, a greater Cincinnati resident and successful beverage industry veteran, purchased the brands and recipes of Christian Moerlein from Snyder International Beverage Group bringing back the local ownership to Cincinnati. At that time, he also obtained a first right of refusal from Snyder for all other brands, recipes and trademarks of the Hudepohl-Schoenling brewing company should they ever be sold in the future. In 2006, Mr. Hardman’s Christian Moerlein Brewing Company and a private investment group purchased all remaining brands and recipes of the Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Company, including Little Kings, and began producing them.

Bruin Pale Ale was an American pale ale with a buttery malt aroma, and notes of chocolate and even prunes. It is no longer in production. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.98 out of 5.

Little Kings Official Website

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tap Handle #147: Tommyknocker - Cocoa Porter

Kelly really likes the Tommyknocker taps, so I acquired one. It turns out that this tap is pretty rare. The head is supposed to be a tommyknocker. It's cute and a little creepy at the same time.

Tommyknock Cocoa Porter Winter Warmer is a winter seasonal, with pure cocoa powder and honey added to each barrel. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.83 out of 5.

For more about Tommyknocker, see this post.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tap Handle #146: Anheuser-Busch - Shock Top Raspberry Wheat

This is basically the same tap as the original Shock Top Belgian White, except the addition of the raspberries makes it absolutely beautiful. Pictures really don't do it justice. I usually don't obtain variations when the taps are similar, but I made an exception in this case.

Shock Top Raspberry Wheat is a Belgian-style wheat with natural raspberry flavor. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.59 out of 5.

For more about Michelob's Shock Top brand, see this post.

Tap Handle #145: Steelback - Red Maple

This is a great tap, not quite as nice as the Carolina Blonde, but the style of the lighthouse is different and attractive.

Steelback Brewery was founded in Ontario, Canada in 2002 by Frank D'Angelo, who was looking for expansion space for his juice company, D'Angelo Brands. He found a site in Tiverton, Ontario, that came with a brewery. D'Angelo intended to sell the brewery, but decided instead to start a beer company. The company's promotional strategy included extensive sponsorship of sporting events and venues. The expense of sponsorship, however, was to be their downfall. Citing poor revenue, high marketing costs and the weak Canadian dollar, both the brewery and D'Angelo Brands filed for protection from creditors. In 2007, D'Angelo sold his majority stake in Steelback Brewery, but remained as chairman of the company.

In 2008, Jon Sherman became the official owner and CEO of the new brewery. Steelback switched gears from the flashy prime time ad campaigns to a more local and minimalist approach in the Ontario market. As part of the relaunch, Steelback felt it was important to pay tribute to its roots in the area of Bruce County, so the Kincardine lighthouse was featured on new packaging. Following the relaunch, the company won multiple brewing awards and also was awarded Sobey's Business of the Year Award in 2009. Despite this, business could not be sustained, and later that year, 35 of Steelback's 39 staff members were laid off, leaving a skeleton staff to continue producing and selling beer. Sherman cited low sales as the reason for the layoffs. In 2010, the remaining staff members were issued letters of termination and the brewery was quietly shut down with no official announcement. At the time of closure, Steelback's six beers included Steelback Premium Lager, Steelback Tiverton Honey Brown, Steelback Premium Draught, Steelback Tiverton Dark, and Steelback Light, and only on draught, the Steelback Red Maple.

Steelback Red Maple was a deep amber-red in color, with a creamy, sweet malt flavor and maple aroma. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.76 out of 5.

Since Steelback is no longer in business, no website link is provided.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tap Handle #144: Tuscan - Paradise Pale Ale

Another of my whimsical taps, this one is pretty rare. Great detail, from the crown of fig leaves to the foam in the boar's mouth (which is not visible in the picture). A fun tap I was happy to acquire.

Tuscan Brewing originated in 1998 in Red Bluff, California by Val Theis. He began brewing as a hobby while working at a packaging plant. Feeling good about the results and feedback from friends, he built a 3000 square foot building next to his home, doing most of the construction himself, and stocking it with equipment from dairies, the packaging plant where he worked, and old equipment from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. By 1992 Theis and his wife Nancy had established the Tuscan Brewery, named after the Tuscan Buttes located east of Red Bluff. They ran the company until their daughter Cathy and her husband Phil took over in 2003. They began bottling 22-ounce bottles of Tuscan Pale Ale and eventually added their Hogsback Brown Ale to the fold. They fed their excess grain to the wild boars that run wild in the area, and used them as a "mascot" on their hand-made labels. Tuscan chose Bay Area artist Carol Benioff to illustrate a more recognizable and uniform logo featuring a smiling boar blowing through a bugle. Tuscan Pale Ale also became Paradise Pale Ale and the Hogsback Brown Ale was renamed Sundown Brown Ale and given the slogan “Celebrate Life!” Business was rocky from the start due to financial constraints and the competitive nature of the brewing industry. The business finally closed its doors sometime around 2007-2008.

Paradise Pale was an American pale ale. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.06 out of 5.

Since Tuscan Brewing is no longer in business, no website link is provided.

Tap Handle #143: Jet City - Pale Ale

This is not a very detailed tap. I was actually a little disappointed when I received it, it's smaller than I thought. It almost looks like a toy with a sticker on it. But it is genuine, and very rare.

Jet City was founded in 1993 in Seattle, Washington by Jeff Leggett. The name comes from Seattle's nickname of "Jet City" due to the presence of Boeing in the area. Leggett was working for ad agencies in San Francisco when he took a position with Rainier in Seattle to manage the Henry Weinhardt's brand they had just acquired. He founded Jet City Brewing as side project, but Rainier showed interest and agreed to contract brew Jet City beers for Leggett. G Heileman Brewing owned Rainier at the time. When a private equity firm bought G Heileman and sold it to Stroh Brewery in 1996, Stroh shut down Jet City Ale (Rainier closed 2 years later). Jet City Pale Ale was tangy and balanced. No rating exists on ratebeer.com.

Leggett passed away less than a month ago on March 17th.

Since Jet City is defunct, there is no website link.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tap Handle #142: Bud Light - Tiki with Surfboard

Budweiser often runs two versions of a tap: one for Budweiser and one for Bud Light. I have both versions of this tap, and this is the Bud Light variation. Since I love Tiki stuff, this was a great acquisition. It simply needed a little work to get the bubbles out of the sticker. This tap is simply outstanding!

For more about Bud Light, see this post.

Tap Handle #141: Redhook - Winterhook

This is a beautiful tap that I've had my eye on for awhile. I finally picked it up and I love it. Yet another in a steady string of outstanding taps from Redhook. Unfortunately, Redhook has since gone to a cheaper tap design (as I mentioned in the Late Harvest post), and although it's still attractive, it's not figural.

Winterhook is a winter seasonal that has been offered every winter for the past 27 years. It has roasted chocolate notes that smooth out the quick, spicy hop finish, with a rich body and nutty, malty backbone. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.09 out of 5.

For more about Redhook, see this post.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tap Handle #140: Paulaner Dunkel - Hefe-Weizen

Taps from Europe are to be prized because they are much harder to obtain. It's very heavy, made of pewter I think, with some nice detail.

Paulaner is a German brewery, established in the early 17th century in Munich by the Minim friars of the Neudeck ob der Au cloister. The brewery is named after Francis of Paola, the founder of the order. The monks had brewed beer for their own use since 1634. The beer that was permitted to be sold on holidays was a Bock style which gained local fame. After the abolition of the Neudeck Cloister in 1799, the building was converted into a penitentiary. Franz Xaver Zacherl, the brewer, purchased the former cloister brewery and continued the "Starkbier" tradition with the product Salvator, which is Latin for "Saviour". In 1861 the "Salvatorkeller" (Salvator cellar) was opened upon Nockherberg. In 1928 the brewery merged with the Gebrüder Thomas brewery creating Paulaner Salvator Thomas Bräu. 1994 saw the acquisition into the Kulmbacher brewery group with the affiliated producers Plauen and Chemnitz. Paulaner belongs to the BHI (Brau Holding International AG), a joint venture between Schorghuber Ventures and the Netherlands' Heineken N.V. Paulaner ranks number 8 among Germany's best selling breweries.

Paulaner Dunkel is a Dunkelweiss, or Hefe-Weizen, a dark wheat beer with a chestnut brown color. It has a fruity wheat taste with a hint of roasted malt.. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.4 out of 5.

Paulaner Official English Website

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tap Handle #139: Miller - Lady in Red (Girl on the Moon)

A fair amount of these taps were made in the 1970s and 80s. Over the years, though, many of them suffered damage from heavy use, and they just aren't very common anymore. Sometimes referred to as the "lady in red" and at other times "girl on the moon", she is an iconic figure for Miller.

This beer was put on the market in 1903 and is Miller Brewing's oldest brand. High Life is grouped under the pilsner category of beers, and the prevailing slogan on current packaging is "The Champagne of Beers". Accordingly, this beer is noted for its high level of carbonation, making it a very bubble-filled beverage, like champagne. It was originally available in miniature champagne bottles and was one of the premier high-end beers in the country for many years. High Life has brought back its "Girl in the Moon" logo, which features a modestly dressed young lady that, by legend, is company founder Frederick Miller's granddaughter. The "Girl in the Moon" logo was originally painted in the early 1900s by an unknown artist and has since been re-painted by Nebraskan artist Mike Hagel, who added his own unique touch to it.

Miller High Life beat out 17 other contestants to take home the gold medal in "American-style Lagers" category at the 2002 World Beer Cup. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 1.63 out of 5.

For more about Miller Brewing, see this post.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tap Handle #138: Ceylon Brewery - Lion Stout

This is a very unique tap. Lion is made in Sri Lanka, so it is extremely rare to find one in the U.S., especially since it isn't marketed like other Eastern beers like Tsingtao or Ichiban. The gold lion head is quite beautiful!

Ceylon Brewery was founded around 1881 in Nuwara Eliya, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). More than a century ago, the British came to Sri Lanka to create tea plantations. These Brits craved a taste of home, so enterprising brewers set up shop to slake thirst, of which Lion is the most well-known. It is often referred to as "the famed beer of Sri Lanka." The brewery's principal product is lager, but it made a pale ale until the 1960s, and it still produces a stout. This pattern is typical in former British colonies. As golden lagers became more popular, the bronze or copper "middle" color vanished, but a black porter or stout survived for those who wanted something truly dark. The Ceylon brewery makes five different beer varieties.

Lion Stout has hints of prunes or figs, bitter chocolate, and mocha. Recommended food pairings are coconut dishes, and it is even used in cocktails, such as one where it is blended with mango, passionfruit, and arrack. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.79 out of 5.

Lion Beer Official Website (currently under construction)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tap Handle #137: Olympia - Pale Export & Dark Ceramic Barrels

A normal Olympia barrel tap looks like the one in the image to the right, with a wooden handle on top and a ferrule at the bottom. But since all the pieces are screwed together, it's not uncommon to find the ceramic barrels separated from the other parts. I particularly liked my tap for two reasons: it had two barrels screwed together, and both barrels are more rare varieties (Pale Export and Dark) rather than the standard Olympia lager. Though not original, I like this tap the way it is and have no plans to change it.

The Capital Brewing Company was founded in 1893 in Tumwater, Washington by Leopold Schimdt. Schmidt, a German immigrant from Montana, built a four-story wooden brewhouse, a five-story cellar building, a one-story ice factory powered by the lower falls, and a bottling and keg plant and in 1896, began brewing and selling Olympia Beer. In 1902, the firm became Olympia Brewing Company and chose the slogan "It's the Water" to promote its flagship product. Statewide Prohibition, which began in January 1916, four years before National Prohibition, ended beer making operations. After Prohibition ended, a new Olympia Brewery was erected just upstream from the original, and Olympia beer went back on sale in 1934.

Olympia Beer was a very popular regional brand in the Pacific Northwest for half of a century. It eventually expanded nationwide, repositioned as a low-price lager. During the 1970s, Olympia acquired Hamm's and Lone Star. Olympia Brewing also produced Buckhorn Beer, which had previously been a product of the Lone Star Brewing Company. The beer declined increasingly in sales when the president of the brewery was caught engaging in a homosexual act, and publicly outed in the early 1980s. The Schmidt family, which owned and operated the brewery and company, elected to sell the company in 1982. Olympia was subsequently purchased by Pabst in 1983. As with many other regional breweries, ownership of this brewery eventually passed through several corporations including Pabst, G. Heileman, and Stroh's, until the brewery was eventually purchased by SABMiller. For a time, the Olympia brewery took over the brewing of other Pacific Northwest brands as their original breweries were closed one by one, including the Lucky Lager brewery in Vancouver, Washington; the Henry Weinhard's brewery in Portland, Oregon; and the Rainier Beer brewery in Seattle, Washington. Miller closed the Olympia brewery on July 1, 2003 citing the unprofitability of such a small brewery. However, beer marketed under the Olympia Beer name continues to be manufactured by SABMiller at a plant in Irwindale, California.

I couldn't find any info on Pale Export, but Olympia Dark was an American Dark Lager that was creamy, with hints of coffee or molasses, and was very popular before the Pabst takeover, but was only found on tap and not in bottles or cans. Weighted average on ratebeer.com for Olympia Dark is 3.14 out of 5.




Fun fact: my uncle Greg (RIP) once worked at the Lucky Brewery in Vancouver before it was closed and moved to the Olympia brewery as detailed above. He once brought me a knit hat made out of Olympia Beer cans like the one pictured on the right. Wish I still had it...


Olympia Beer Official Website

Tap Handle #136: Tommyknocker - Jackwhacker Wheat Ale


The tap on the left is my current Jackwhacker tap. It replaces the version on the right, which was simply a polished rock glued to the top of a wood post (and has since been sold). I have another very similar tap for Tommyknocker's Cocoa Porter. While my previous version was more rare, I like the newer version better.

Tommyknocker Brewing was founded in Idaho Springs, Colorado in 1859. During the Colorado gold rush of 1859, Idaho Springs became a popular location for mining, and the Tommyknocker Brewing Company was established to meet the needs of the large number of prospectors. Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, CO is located in the old historical Placer Inn. Opened around 1859, the Placer is located only 4/10th of a mile from the spot where George A. Jackson found the first Colorado gold. The Placer was a very busy place during the gold rush days. It housed an assay office where the miners would bring in their finds at the end of each day. After the days activities the miners drank black coffee, ate hot bread, pork, and beans for their supper. The company name comes from the tommyknocker, a mythical elf-like creature who was said to live in the cracks of mines. Tommyknocker has seven core beers and six premium/seasonals.

Jackwhacker is an American-style wheat ale with a lemony-citrus flavor, and it won a gold medal at the 2000 North American Brewer's Association Awards. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.72 out of 5.

Tommyknocker Official Website

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tap Handle #135: Skagit River - Brown Ale

This tap was a gift from my Dad's cousin Jim. Though not figural, it's still pretty, and now is part of the collection. Thanks cousin Jim!

The Skagit River Brewery was founded in Mount Vernon, Washington in 1994. The Pacific Fruit and Produce Company warehouse, built in 1929, became the site of the brewery. After an extensive remodel, the brewery and pub opened in 1995. They currently make six beers year-round as well as seasonals. Skagit Brown Ale (formerly known as Steelie Brown Ale) has a strong malt character and caramel, roast, and chocolate flavors. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.13 out of 5.

Skagit River Brewery Offical Website

Tap Handle #134: Staropramen Premium Lager

I really like this tap and I'm not sure why. It's not as pretty as the Czechvar tap, but something about it appeals to me.

Staropramen Brewery was founded in Prague, Czech Republic in 1869. The brewery building was completed and beer first brewed in 1871. The Ostravar Brewery opened in 1898 followed a year later by the Braník brewery; these two breweries would later merge with Staropramen. Due to competition from other Prague breweries, the brand name Staropramen, which translates as “old spring,” was registered in 1911. After the First World War all three breweries saw a period of sustained growth, and by the 1930s Staropramen was the largest brewery in Czechoslovakia. With socialism after the Second World War, all Czechoslovakian breweries were nationalized, including Staropramen.

After socialism ended in 1989, the brewery, along with the Braník and Mesťan breweries, became in 1992 part of the Prague Breweries group, which by 1996 came under control of the Bass company. Bass brought Ostravar into the group in 1997, then in 2000 sold its brewing operations to Interbrew, which merged with AmBev in 2004 to form Inbev. Staropramen has seen steady growth and is currently the Czech Republic's second largest beer producer with a 15.3 % share of the domestic market. In mid October 2009, private equity fund CVC Capital Partners bought all of Anheuser–Busch InBev's holdings in Central Europe (including Staropramen). They renamed the operations StarBev. Its products are exported to 37 countries across the globe, mostly in Europe and North America.

The brewery's flagship product is Staropramen, a bohemian pilsener, pale gold in color with a flowery aroma and a hop crispness balanced by a malty softness. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.89 out of 5.

Staropramen Official English Website

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tap Handle #133: Shipyard - Blue Fin Stout

Tap size:  9" tall x 5" wide
Rarity:  Rare
Mounting: recessed internal 3/8" nut

This is a beautiful tap, superior to the Skipjack and Tarpon Spoon, and just a notch below the Trout Slayer. The colors are airbrushed and gorgeous. A glossy finish here is appropriate, since the fish should look wet as it emerges from the water. This is the only Shipyard tap that has a sign attached to it, and the sign is really beautiful too. Due to the angle of the fish, the tap is 5" wide, which is important for mounting concerns. In another unusual twist, the bottom of the tap has a hex-shaped insert with the internal nut recessed, which you can see in my last photo, and it means a longer bolt is needed for mounting purposes. The tap is rare but the price has come down in past year and it is fairly easy to find.

For more about Shipyard, see this post.

Click through to read more about Shipyard's Blue Fin Stout and to see more photos of this gorgeous tap...

Tap Handle #132: Dogfish Head - Steampunk

Tap size:  12"
Rarity:  Rare
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

When I first started this blog back in 2011, this tap handle was #1 on my wishlist. Acquiring it at a great price was one of my high moments of collecting. It is an absolutely beautiful tap with a steampunk design (which I love), and is based on a treehouse built in the backyard of the brewery. It is one of the Uber taps - every two years, the brewery releases one of these "Uber" taps as a celebration of beer and art, and distribution is very limited. This tap is the Uber tap from 2010. The front and back are reverse images of each other. One word of caution, however - the gears are very fragile, and if you find one, look the photos over carefully to make sure they aren't broken. Although they are fairly easy to find, demand keeps prices high, even for damaged taps...damaged or undamaged, it is one of the most expensive taps a person can acquire.

Click through to read more about the Dogfish Head Brewery, their signature 60 Minute IPA, and to see more photos of this highly sought-after tap...