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, 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

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tap Handle #185: Drake's IPA

This is one gorgeous tap, from the ship sailing with the sun behind it, to the globe underneath the ship. It's also pretty rare. A great addition to the collection.

Click through to read more about Drake's Brewing and their IPA...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Trip Past Rogue Brewing


I took a three hour trip from my house to Newport, a city on the Oregon Coast, this past weekend. I made the trip mainly to see the Newport Aquarium, not realizing that the route to get there goes right past the Rogue Brewery. I took the opportunity to snap a few photos before heading to the aquarium. On the left, you can see the brewery from the street. The photo on the right is of the nearby distillery. I believe both the brewery and distillery have pubs inside, but I'm not totally sure about that.





This photo is of the Rogue Nation Armory and Museum. It sits across the parking lot from the distillery.







Unfortunately, due to other commitments I didn't have time to stop and check out the brewery, but hopefully I can do so on another trip in the near future.

 



I also saw this bench (pictured to the right) in a cluster of shops outside the aquarium. Looks just like the tap. Very cool!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tap Handle #184: Elysian - The Wise ESB

Conceptually this is a great tap. Other varieties are similar style but have different colors and labels. They have become pretty rare.

Elysian was founded in 1995 in Seattle, Washington, by Dave Buhler, Joe Bisacca, and Dick Cantwell. Cantwell had been a homebrewer who gained a reputation at the Duwamps Cafe, the Pike Place Brewery, and Big Time Brewing. Buhler is a former spirits wholesaler and Bisacca was a vice president at Seafirst Bank. The first location was a beer hall and main brewery on Capitol Hill, Seattle’s most populous neighborhood. In 1997 Elysian was chosen to operate a pub and small brewery at Gameworks, a large entertainment complex owned by Universal Studios, Dreamworks & Sega. Elysian left this partnership in 2002 upon expiration of the five-year contract. A year later Elysian opened TangleTown, an 80-seat neighborhood brewery/bistro. Elysian Fields, their third location, opened in August 2006 near Seattle’s two sports arenas. It is typical to find over twenty different Elysian beers between the three locations. In 2011, Elysian expanded its operations with a 35,000-square-foot production-only facility in the Georgetown neighborhood.

The Wise ESB is an extra special bitter that was the brewery's first beer, created in 1996, and won gold medals at the 2003 and 2004 Great American Beer Festivals. It has aromas of caramel, honey, citrus, and floral. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.51 out of 5.

Fun Fact: my dad Guy, who has been mentioned in this blog from time to time, lives on Capitol Hill, not to far from the original Elysium brewery.

Elysian Official Website

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tap Handle #183: Anheuser-Busch - Budweiser Tiki Holding Sign

As I stated in a previous post, Budweiser often made two versions of concepts for its tap handles - one for Budweiser and one for Bud Light. This is the Budweiser version of the Tiki ( I profiled the Bud Light version back in post #142). It's also the more rare of the two versions. I wish it had a little more detail, and it could benefit from a matte finish, but it's definitely a great tap.

For more about Budweiser, this post.

Tap Handle #182: Big Rock - Grasshopper Wheat Ale

I really, really love this tap. First appearing on the wishlist at #13, I was elated to obtain one. Great detail and a beautiful matte finish make this one of my top taps. Big Rock has since come out with newer, plainer taps.

Big Rock Brewery was founded in Calgary in Alberta, Canada in 1985 by Ed McNally. The company is named after a multi-ton granite glacial deposit located outside of Okotoks, Alberta. A lawyer by trade, McNally was representing a group of barley growers in a legal action against the Alberta Wheat Board in the 1980s. Through the course of the legal action, McNally learned that the Alberta climate produces 2-row barley that is ideally suited for malting, and had ready access to fresh glacial water from the nearby Rocky Mountains. At the time, most barley production in Alberta was used as cattle feed. Unhappy with his limited choices of beer, McNally decided to open his own craft brewery. The first brewmaster was Bernd "Peppy" Pieper, an internationally renowned Swiss brewmaster for Heineken International. The brewery opened in an 1800 square foot building on the Barlow Trail.

In the summer of 1986, when Big Rock had been in production for only a year, there was a strike at the Molson and Labatt breweries. The strike at the two largest domestic brewers proved to be a windfall for Big Rock, as it was the only beer available in Alberta that summer. The brewery had to run around the clock to meet demand for the entire summer, and sales immediately doubled. This was widely considered the turning point for Big Rock, and they were accepted as a serious contender in the market. Another big boost came during the 1988 Winter Olympics, when Big Rock beers impressed many foreign visitors. In 1989 Big Rock moved to its current location on a 14 acre site in southeast Calgary. The company brews 17 varieties of beer, two types of cider, two seasonal brews, and eight contract brews for other companies. They are Canada's largest craft brewery and the second-largest Canadian-owned brewery.

Grasshopper is a wheat ale developed by Pieper whit hints of apple, vanilla, and cinnamon. Recommended food pairings are barbecued chicken, smoked fish, and shrimp kabobs. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.59 out of 5.

Big Rock Official Website

Tap Handle #181: Wychwood - Hobgoblin English Ale Ax

Tap size:  11" tall x 6.25" wide
Rarity:  Very Rare
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

Originally this tap was entry #6 on my original wishlist. I was thrilled when I was able to get my hands on one. It's not very detailed, but it doesn't need to be - thematically it's one of the coolest taps in the collection. It could have presented mounting issues due to the width of the ax, but in this case it's a non-factor - you'd have to mount it backwards, with the sign facing away from you, for it to be a problem. Speaking of the sign, it has a really beautiful label on it. The tap isn't quite scarce, but it can be hard to find, and it is definitely expensive.

For more about Wychwood and their Hobgoblin English Ale, see this post.

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

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tap Handle #180: Widmer - Hefeweizen Shark

This is a very strange tap handle. I can't see the connection between the shark and the Hefeweizen beer or the Widmer Brewery itself. It's almost like they just came up with a random tap handle idea. There's probably a story behind it, and I'd love to know what it is...maybe a trip to the brewery would shed some light. Also, this is pretty rare. Most of the Hefeweizen taps feature a foamy glass of beer with a lemon wedge in it, and of course their newer taps are simply wood with a label.

For more about Widmer, see this post.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tap Handle #179: Bridgeport - Hop Czar Imperial IPA

I was intrigued by the tap, which features a hop-crowned scepter, so I obtained one for the collection. Not one of my more detailed taps, but the label is nice and helps make it pretty decent. I'm hoping the visit the Bridgeport Brewery in the near future.

Bridgeport was founded in 1984 by local winemakers Richard and Nancy Ponzi, and the brewery claims in their trademark to be "Oregon's Oldest Craft Brewery". The initial brewing facility, the Columbia River Brewery, had a 600-barrel per year capacity. They moved to a newer facility in Portland's warehouse-turned-trendy Pearl District, in a building that was once a rope factory. Bridgeport was acquired by The Gambrinus Company in 1995, expanding its capacity to 100,000 barrels by 2001. Bridgeport's beers are distributed in 18 states nationwide. Their beers have won numerous awards, including gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup, not to mention the Brewing Industry International Awards.

Hop Czar is a double IPA brewed with three different malts and 4 hop varieties, with citrus and floral notes paired with extra bitterness. Recommended food pairings are grilled lamb, blue cheese, and creme brulee. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.43 out of 5.

Fun Fact: the TV show Leverage on TNT has always been "set" in Boston but actually filmed in Portland. Season 5 saw the characters "move" to Portland. The Bridgeport Brew Pub in northwest Portland is used as a set for many of the show's Season 5 scenes, since one of the characters "owns" the pub. If you look closely at the background, in scenes that feature the Pub, you will see Bridgeport taps, including this tap...

Bridgeport Brewing Official Website