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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Friday, November 30, 2012

Tap Handle #215: Railway City - Dead Elephant

This beautiful tap originally debuted on my wish list at #14. I obtained one and really love it. The detail is excellent, with the elephant sitting on a tiny train that belches clouds of steam. Even the base is made to look like circus rope and train tracks.

Railway City Brewery was founded in 2008 in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada by Paul Corriveau and Al Goulding. The brewery initially suffered from consistency issues, but a new head brewer arrived and tweaked some of the recipes, and also created their popular Dead Elephant Ale. Sales took off, and Railway City soon found itself unable to meet demand. As a result, they purchased a building that was a former Rite-Form Tool & Dye factory, but it needs extensive renovations before Railway City can move in. Currently they make 5 varieties and also 2 seasonals, and distribute from Windsor to Ottawa.

Dead Elephant Ale is a tribute to Jumbo the Elephant, who was tragically killed in a railroad accident in the late 1800’s in St.Thomas. Jumbo is featured throughout St.Thomas from the life size statue at the City’s west entrance, to the large wall murals adorning the downtown buildings. He was the prize attraction of the P.T. Barnum Circus that performed throughout North America. What a lot of people don’t realize is that during the early days, many circuses traveled by train, and thus many traveled to St.Thomas as part of their route. P.T. Barnum was a master marketer and many refer to the term of Jumbo sized items relating back to Jumbo the Elephant. In fact the name Jumbo was given to him by his London zookeepers which was a variation of one of two Swahili words: jambo (which means “hello”) or jumbe (which means “chief”). Either way, Jumbo’s name established the common word "Jumbo” as meaning large in size.

Dead Elephant Ale is a full bodied golden pale ale which pours with a linen-white medium density head, leaving spider web lace on the glass. On the palate the flavor is sweet fruity malts up front (apricot, mango) with a bit of candy, and slight grassy notes which fall away to reveal a hint of biscuit with rather pleasant grapefruit and perfume undertones. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.19 out of 5.

Railway City Official Website

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tap Handle #214: Caledonian (Heineken UK) - Newcastle Werewolf ESB

I consider this the coolest tap handle ever made...it's one of my favorites, if not my top tap. There is a small version and a tall version - this is the tall one. The detail and theme are simply awesome!

Newcastle was originally founded in 1890 in Newcastle, England. As it went through a series of mergers with other breweries such as Robinson & Sons, James Porter & Son, and John Barras, it was the Newcastle name that stuck. The 5 points on the star on the Newcastle label represent the 5 original breweries. In 1927, Lt. Colonel James ('Jim') Herbert Porter, a third generation brewer at Newcastle (grandson of James Porter, listed above), refined the recipe for Newcastle Brown Ale alongside chemist Archie Jones over a period of three years. When Porter actually completed the beer, he believed it to be a failure, as he had actually been attempting to recreate Bass ale. The day after the beer's release, police begged the brewery to lower the strength of the beer, as the prison cells were full, but the company declined. When first exhibited, Newcastle Brown Ale swept the board at the prestigious 1928 International Brewery Awards and was called "The One and Only"; the gold medals from these awards are still featured on the label, and the term "The One and Only" is still used today. Locals, however, referred to it as a "bottle of dog". If you've ever heard the expression "I have to go see a man about a dog", it's a very old euphemism about someone who's off to drink Newcastle. The success of Newcastle led to Col. Jim Porter becoming managing director of Newcastle Breweries, Ltd in the 1950's. He died in Newcastle in 1973. Newcastle Brown Ale became a brand of Scottish & Newcastle after the merger of Scottish Brewers with Newcastle Breweries in 1960 where it became a flagship brand.

Scottish and Newcastle announced closure of the Tyne Brewery in 2004, in order to consolidate the brewing of beer and ale at the Dunston site. In 2008, S&N acquired Caledonian; however, Heineken then bought S&N in a joint deal with Carlsberg, and Caledonian, now also known as Heineken UK, became Newcastle's parent company. In 2010, S&N closed the Dunston brewery, moving production of Brown Ale to the John Smiths Brewery in Tadcaster. The company cited the general fall in the market for beer, over-capacity in its plants in general, and the fact that the Dunston site was currently operating at just 60% capacity, despite the fact that sales of Newcastle Brown Ale had never been higher. Currently, Newcastle Brown is exported to over 40 countries, and is so popular in the U.S. that the brewery at times devotes half of its production to the U.S. market. In addition to Brown Ale, Newcastle also produces 4 seasonal beers.

Newcastle Werewolf is fall seasonal, blood red ESB that gets its color from Rye Malt. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.55 out of 5.

Newcastle Official Website

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Change to Recent Comments in Sidebar and Updated List

Well, the gadget for the Recent Comments feature in the sidebar has been broken for awhile. I was hoping it would be fixed by now but no such luck. I switched to a different gadget called Top Comments instead. It's not as intuitive - the comments seem to be out of order - but it's better than nothing...

On a side note, I've also updated the collection list over in the sidebar. Even though I've cut way back on acquisitions, I'm still up to 266 taps...

Tap Handle #213: Fish Brewing - Fish Tale Mudshark Porter

Compared to the previous tap I profiled (BlueWater), this tap looks rather plain. I still like it, though. The only difference among varieties is the label.

Fish Brewing Company was founded in 1993 in Olympia, Washington, by Crayne and Mary Horton. Fish began operations in a brewpub with a 15-barrel brew house, two 15-barrel fermenters, and one dairy tank. By 1996, Fish had outgrown the brewpub, and moved brewing operations to the Skoog building, the former site of the Olympia Knitting Mills, as well as a lumber mill machinery factory. The increase in space allowed for a bottling line, while the old brewpub became the new brewpub’s kitchen. In 2000 the company made a commitment to start using organic ingredients in some of their ales. In 2001, Fish acquired Leavenworth Biers. Founded by Scott Hansen in 1992 in Leavenworth, Washington (home of the Northwest’s famed Bavarian village) Leavenworth Biers moved its own operations to Fish's site. And in 2004, Fish aquired Spire Mountain Ciders, the nation’s oldest operating commercial craft cider maker. Spire's owners, Washington Wine and Beverage Company, agreed to the sale for a minority ownership stake in Fish, and Spire operations were moved to Fish.

All these acquisitions caused brewing a space problems. In 2006 Fish retired their 15-barrel brewing system and replaced it with a 40-barrel brewing system and a fifth 120-barrel fermenter, for a total of twelve fermenters. Space became tight, especially for stacking barrel pallets. In 2008, a major shareholder in Fish sold their shares to Washington Wine and Beverage, making them the primary shareholder. WW&B was founded in 1987 as a small cidery making Spire Mountain in Bothell, Washington, but had grown to be one of the largest winemaking companies in Washington before owning Fish. They became embroiled in controversy when they attempted to buy out the lease of the Loft. The Loft occupied part of the same building as Fish, with a large area that had hosted local bands, artists, and non-profit groups since 1949. Fish desired to stack pallets higher and needed to remove the floor of the Loft to do so. After an unsuccessful website, petition, and boycott of Fish products, the Loft was demolished, allowing Fish the expansion it desired. In the future, WW&B has plans to build a Fish brewery & distillery at its Woodinville, Washington, Wine & Culinary Village. Fish also has a new line of short-availability craft beers known as "Reel Ales".

Fish Tale Mudshark Porter is a black, medium-bodied, yet robust brew with a rich chocolate flavor and dry finish. The predominate flavor is of smooth, dark, bittersweet cocoa. This is a hearty brew of seven varieties of malt, including Pale, Carastan, Crystal, Brown, Black, Munich, and an especially generous portion of Chocolate malt. Mudshark Porter gains its bitterness from Columbus hops, and its gentle hop flavor from a late addition of Willamette hops in the kettle. It won a gold medal in 2000 & 2001 from the North American Brewers' Association. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.43 out of 5.

Fish Brewing Official Website

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tap Handle #212: SweetWater - Blue

As I've stated in previous posts, I love nautical stuff, so it was a no-brainer to add this rainbow trout tap to the collection. These are very common, but are also prone to chipping and paint damage when used. The only difference between varieties is the labels.

SweetWater Brewing was founded in 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996 by Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney. They were roommates at the University of Colorado, Boulder and both loved beer. They started by washing kegs on the loading docks of a local brewery for free beer, then they attended the American Brewers Guild in California. After that they worked for other west coast breweries to expand their knowledge. In 1996, the Olympics brought Freddy to Atlanta. He decided it would be a great place for a brewery, and he and Kevin scraped together just enough money to get started. As they were building the brewery, Freddy was kayaking down Sweetwater Creek, in a state park near the brewery, and decided that it would be a great name for the brewery. Initial distribution was in the local Atlanta area.

As business increased, SweetWater outgrew its old location, and moved to a new building in 2004 in Midtown Atlanta. This new facility was 25,000 square feet, with enough capacity to brew 100,000 barrels of beer a year. Their brews were unpasteurized and designed to be consumed fresh, so distribution was limited to Georgia, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The brewery underwent another expansion in 2012 to increase square footage to 115,000 and barrel production to 500,000 a year, allowing for expansion in the Florida, Tennessee, and Virginia markets. They are the second-largest brewer in the southeast and the 27th largest brewer in the U.S. Currently, the brewery has 6 year‐round brews, 6 "Catch and Release" seasonals, and has also brewed 2 one‐time‐only "Dank Tank" beers. SweetWater was named Grand Champion of the 2012 U.S. Open Beer Championship, taking home 3 gold and 3 silver medals.

SweetWater Blue is a light-bodied fruit ale with a hint of blueberries, and was one of the 2 original beers to be brewed during start-up. It won a bronze medal at the 1998 World Beer Festival. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.01 out of 5.

SweetWater Official Website

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tap Handle #211: Diamond Bear - Southern Blonde

This is one of my favorite taps. The sculpting and detail are excellent. If you're going to have a toy on a stick, this is the way to go. I also really like (but don't have) the Strawberry Blonde version.

Diamond Bear Brewing was founded in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2000 by Russ and Sue Melton. Russ Melton was a tire salesman who was exposed to German beer when he was stationed in Germany with the Army in the '70s. In the '90, while living in Kansas City, he was impressed with Boulevard's beer. On returning to Little Rock, he decided to open a brewery in a building that was once an old Studebaker dealership, and stocked it with equipment from a defunct Seattle brewery. The Diamond Bear name is derived from Arkansas having been known as both "The Diamond State" and "The Bear State". The brewery struggled with consistency during its early years, but after a brewer from Abita arrived, the beers started winning awards. Bottling was largely handled by volunteers, but there were frequent problems with the old equipment. To make matters worse, the brewery was being charged for excessive wastewater, despite the fact that most of the water they were using went into the beer.

In 2011 Diamond Bear moved its operations into a 20,000 square foot building on 2 acres in North Little Rock, citing increases in demand and sales, as well as higher loading docks and the problems mentioned above, for the move. The site includes a much larger tap room, a small restaurant, a deck overlooking the river, rental of a special event room/or even the entire brewery for private functions, and public tours on Saturday and Sunday.

Southern Blonde is a golden German Pilsner made to appeal to drinkers of big brewery lagers like Budweiser and Miller. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.54 out of 5.

Diamond Bear Official Website

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tap Handle #210: Sprecher - Double IPA Griffon

This is identical to my Sprecher Special Amber tap, except for the color and label, which is how the different varieties of beers are distinguishable for each tap. I've seen some other Sprecher griffons that were red or blue.

Sprecher Double IPA is a summer seasonal of the imperial or double style, therefore much stronger than the normal IPA's now found everywhere. It has a very balanced but different flavor than most US micro types focusing on more on malt and hop balance, where CA IPA's emphasize massive hop aroma and bitterness. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.14 out of 5.

For more about Sprecher, see this post.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mystery Tap Handle

Gary over at the BreweryGems website (which I mentioned in the Heidelberg post) was wondering if anyone could identify this tap. So how about it...does anybody know the brewer or beer that this tap belongs to? It appears to be made of pottery (ceramic?) and is filled with concrete or plaster, with a standard female thread on the bottom of it. If anyone knows or has an educated guess, please leave a comment...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tap Handle #209: Old Dominion - Oak Barrel Stout

I like this tap more than I thought I would. Each variety has subtle differences in the tap layout, with the label being the most distinguishing feature.

Old Dominion Brewing was founded in 1989 in Ashburn, VA by Jerry Bailey. Bailey was working as a federal government employee when his brother gave him a homebrewing kit for Christmas. After much research and planning, he decided to open a brewpub, and it was an immediate success. The grounds behind the brewery were used to host the Old Dominion Brew Festival from 1996 to 2006.

Bailey put Old Dominion up for sale in the mid-2000s. No serious offers to purchase the company were made until 2007, when Fordham Brewing of Annapolis, MD offered to purchase the company, financed in part by Anheuser-Busch (AB) for a minority stake in the two breweries, to form Coastal Brewing Company. The majority of Coastal is owned by Fordham Brewing. Old Dominion also operated a brewpub at the Ashburn brewery, which was closed in August 2008, primarily due to ongoing losses directly related to the overall U.S. economic downturn. Immediately after the sale, the brewers at Old Dominion worked with the brewers at Fordham for several months to ensure a consistent recipe transition. After the breweries combined operations, Coastal Brewing increased its focus on Old Dominion's popular brands, with all slower selling and non-profitable brands and contract brews culled from the product line by Coastal management.

In May 2009 all brewing operations, combined with those of Fordham Brewing, were moved to a new facility in Dover, Delaware. The current core brands of the brewery continue to sell briskly in both the on-site and packaging ends, and can be found as the "house" brews at many locations throughout the DC Metro area, including the Great American Restaurant chain (except for the Sweetwater Tavern in Centreville, VA), Verizon Center, and Nationals Park. Old Dominion continues to host various brew sampling and cask events throughout the DC-MD-VA metropolitan area, maintaining their status as a Mid-Atlantic regional brewer, and their Oak Barrel Stout and Hop Mountain Pale Ale brands remain popular sellers in the packaging end of the line, available at several retail and grocery chains throughout the region.

Oak Barrel Stout is rich and smooth, combining seven different malts and two hops, and dry-hopped with fresh vanilla beans and toasted oak, resulting in a stout that has a bourbon barrel flavor. Recommended food pairings are oysters, clams, brie, and chocolate. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.59 out of 5.

Old Dominion Official Website

Tap Handle #208: Gordon Biersch - Summerbrau Waterglobe

Normally I don't go for taps with waterglobes in them, because usually they get large air bubbles in them. However, since this was part of a group purchase, I don't mind. There are a few other varieties that have different scenes inside the waterglobe. This is probably my favorite Gordon Biersch waterglobe tap, due to the comical feature of a man in lederhosen holding a surfboard.

SommerBrau is a Kölsch style beer, fermented using a special top fermenting yeast strain imported from Germany. It is available seasonally from May through July. Recommended food pairings are chicken, seafood, and spicy dishes. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.85 out of 5.

For more about Gordon Biersch, see this post.

Tap Handle #207: Back Forty - Kudzu Porter Gas Pump

This is an awesome tap and extremely rare. I love the idea of an old gas pump covered in creeping Kudzu vines. The details and colors, along with the matte finish, when combined with the rarity, make this a top tap.

Back Forty Beer Company was founded in 2007 in Birmingham, Alabama, by Jason Wilson and Zach Folmar. They were originally inspired with the idea of Back Forty Beer Company in 2003 while visiting family in the small ski town of Crested Butte, CO. While dining out one evening, the two men struck up a conversation with the Master Brewer at the town’s local brewpub. In 2007, after years of developing the concept, the duo enlisted the services of Montgomery, Alabama resident Jamie Ray as Brewmaster for the operation.  Ray had over twenty years of experience in the brewing profession, including several medals at the Great American Beer Festival.

In 2009, a deal was reached with the Alabama Budweiser network for statewide distribution of Back Forty’s products. This resulted in the creation of Alabama’s only craft brewery with distribution throughout the state. After several months were spent obtaining licenses and permits, Back Forty Beer Company offered its first public samples of Naked Pig Pale Ale at the Magic City Brewfest in Birmingham, AL.  This date was also significant, as it was the first time that craft beer that exceeded 6% alcohol was allowed to be sold in Alabama. Due to an Alabama law that prohibits breweries from selling beers on-site for consumption, Back Forty was originally contract brewed by the Lazy Magnolia Brewery in Mississippi. However, they managed to grow so quickly that they were forced to move their operations to their larger current location in Gadsden, at the former site of a Sears Roebuck appliance service center, where they now brew their own beer, which includes 4 varieties.

Kudzu Porter is blended with roasted malts and hops, with hints of chocolate, smoke, and citrus. Recommended food pairings are lamb, pork, and desserts. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.27 out of 5.

Back Forty Official Website

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tap Handle #206: Moylan's - Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout

I really like these Moylan's taps that look like a Celtic cross. I scored this one as part of a group purchase. The only difference between varieties is the label. It's double sided, so the back and front are identical.

Moylan's Brewing was founded in 1995 in Novato, California by Brendan Moylan. After picking up a homebrewing kit to start, Moylan became a founding partner in Marin Brewing Company, which opened in April of 1989. Moylan moved his family from San Francisco to Novato in 1989 because he wanted to raise his two children in the city’s small town atmosphere. Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant, Novato’s only brewpub, was $3.5 million project that has established a strong following among North Marin’s beer connoisseurs. Moylan’s features a 57 foot long bar, a dart room with a fireplace and a reading library featuring brewing books and magazines from Brendan’s personal collection.

Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout is rich, thick, and intense with hints of espresso coffee, chocolate truffles, burnt currants, and sherry. It won a gold medal in the 1998 and 2002 World Beer Championship. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.0 out of 5.

Moylan's Official Website

Tap Handle #205: Boulevard - Unfiltered Wheat

This tap doesn't look that impressive in the photo, but it is more so when you're holding it in your hands...I like this one. It's pretty common, and is made to resemble the big brick smokestack outside the brewery, right down to the big "BOULEVARD" painted on the side. The only difference in the varieties of taps are in the label at the top - and some have a square top instead of round.

Boulevard was founded in 1988 in Kansas City, Missouri, by John McDonald. He started construction of the brewery in a turn-of-the-century brick building on Kansas City’s historic Southwest Boulevard. A vintage Bavarian brewhouse was installed, and the first batches of beer were produced in the fall of 1989.
The brewery's first half-barrel was delivered personally by McDonald in his pickup truck to Ponak's Mexican Kitchen, located nearby.

The brewery is now the largest craft brewer in the Midwest, with capacity reaching an estimated 600,000 barrels. Boulevard's beer is available throughout Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Indiana, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Alaska and parts of Illinois, Colorado, Alabama, Idaho, Minnesota, Utah, Texas, and Maryland. Boulevard underwent expansions in 1999 and 2003. In March 2005, Boulevard broke ground on a $20 million expansion project that was constructed adjacent to the existing plant, and included a two-story state-of-the-art brewhouse and a kegging/bottling facility with a skylit atrium. The third floor, in addition to housing Boulevard Brewery offices, has two large hospitality rooms, with a terrace overlooking downtown Kansas City. A glass skywalk links both pedestrian circulation and beer piping between the old and new brewhouses.

Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a lively, refreshing ale with a natural citrusy flavor and distinctive cloudy appearance, and is the best-selling beer of its style in the Midwest. It also won a gold medal at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival. Recommended food pairings are bread, mozzarella cheese, pizza, salads, seafood, and sushi. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.04 out of 5.

Boulevard Official Website (this is a nicely-designed site)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tap Handle #204: Tallgrass - IPA

Not one of my favorite taps, but not bad either. It's mostly valued for its scarcity.

Tallgrass IPA is rich, complex, and flavorful. It was the first beer brewed by the owner during his homebrewing days, but the third beer released by the brewery. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.2 out of 5.

For more about Tallgrass, see this post.