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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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tap Handle #166: MacTarnahan's - Dagger

I'd been pursuing the MacTarnahan's dagger for some time; it first appeared on my original wishlist at #20. Fortunately I was able to acquire one at a good price. It's not quite as detailed as the Killian's dagger, but is still a nice tap. In a matter of excellent timing, I've been invited to MacTarnahan's pub for lunch next Wednesday by one of my company's vendors, so I'll be posting details of that soon.

MacTarnahan's Brewing Company was founded in Portland, Oregon in 1986 by a group of local investors, and was originally named Portland Brewing Company. The most prominent investor was Robert Malcolm "Mac" MacTarnahan, a larger-than-life character. His stable included a donkey the size of a dog, and Buck, the biggest horse west of the Mississippi. He was a Jantzen swimsuit model, and the guy that in high school got caught painting Gen. Grant's horse pink at 4 a.m. before the big game, which is why he graduated a year late. He was a world masters runner and wrestler with 50 gold medals and three world records, a self-made millionaire, and a salesman of everything from locomotive tires to disused rails. Mac's $25,000 check helped found the brewery in 1985, and he saved it from financial disaster in 1998 by buying $3.5 million of the brewery's debt, trading money owed his family businesses for brewery stock and guaranteeing the brewery's mortgage and credit line.

Portland Brewing made Grant's Scottish Ale for Bert Grant's Yakima brewery in the early days, and Portland Brewing developed their own version of that recipe in 1991. The beer was to be called Portland Amber Ale, but because it was three words they couldn't own (like Oregon Honey Beer), they asked the family about using the MacTarnahan name. The family objected at first, but eventually saw the wisdom of trademarking the name, and Robert MacTarnahan liked the phrase "gimme a Mac's." Portland Brewing Company merged with Saxer Brewing Company of Lake Oswego in 2000, and as a result owned the rights to the Saxer and Nor'Wester brands, which would continue to be made under their own names (Saxer and Nor'Wester are no longer produced).

Robert MacTarnhan was forced to sell the brewery to Pyramid Brewery in 2004. Though he was torn about selling, he saw the sense in trying to grow the business, instead of continuing to sink money into a small business that had grown to 90 employees but wasn't big enough to compete with larger breweries. Pyramid was bought by Magic Hat Brewing Company in 2008. The MacTarnahan brands were acquired in August 2010 by North American Breweries, but are still made under their own name by Magic Hat, and have won many awards over the years, including gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and gold, silver, and bronze medals at the World Beer Championships. Beers made by MacTarnahan's include MacTarnahan's Amber Ale, Oregon Honey Beer, and BlackWatch Cream Porter.

MacTarnahan's Amber Ale, their signature ale that has won at least 15 awards, including multiple golds at both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Championships, has an amber hue and full-bodied flavor made with roasted, domestic caramel malt. It’s sweetness is then tempered with genuine Cascade hops, which are added again at the end of the boil for a distinctive, citric-floral aroma. Weighted average on is 3.15 out of 5.

Robert MacTarnahan died in 2004 at the age of 89.

MacTarnahan's Official Website

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tap Handle #165: Big Sky Brewing - Moose Drool Brown Ale

This version of the Moose Drool tap is quite's also fragile, as I've seen several with one or both of the antlers broke off and glued back on, or completely missing. Like other breweries, Big Sky has moved to a simpler tap. Although the new tap is visually appealing, it's not figural, so I prefer this one. It's not the most detailed tap, but the matte finish is nice, and it's quite humorous.

Moosse Drool is a brown ale, and is the best selling beer brewed in Montana. It's chocolate brown in color with a creamy texture, and is a malty beer with just enough hop presence to keep it from being too sweet. The aroma also mostly comes from the malt with a hint of spiciness being added by the hops. Weighted average on is 3.42 out of 5.

For more about Big Sky Brewing, see this post.