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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.

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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.

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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 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

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