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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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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tap Handle #217: MillerCoors - Weinhard's Red

This is a great tap. The boar's head is nicely detailed, and it represents a piece of Portland history. I believe this tap dates to the beer's Olympia ownership days, but I'm not 100% sure.

Henry Weinhard's Brewing was founded in Portland, Oregon, in 1856 by Henry Weinhard. Weinhard was a German immigrant who had been an apprentice brewer in Stuttgart. He immigrated to the United States in 1852, and after stops in New York and Philadelphia, he settled in Cincinnati, where he worked for a brewery for 4 years, during which time he perfected his own recipes. In 1855, Weinhard made his way to Portland and found work in John Meunich’s Fort Vancouver Brewery. Weinhard remained at the Meunich Brewery for six months before moving to Portland and establishing a brewery with George Bottler. Unfortunately, the brewery did not expand at a satisfactory rate for Weinhard, so he sold his portion of the business to Bottler and moved back to Fort Vancouver to work for the Muenich Brewery, which he purchased six months later and renamed the Vancouver Brewery. Weinhard sold the brewery in 1862 and moved his small family to Portland.

Through a series of business transactions with Bottler and Henry Saxer, Weinhard was able to purchase both men’s breweries and eventually move his whole operation to Northwest Portland. The brewery quickly expanded and Weinhard purchased the Liberty Brewery that had been Portland’s oldest brewery at the time. In due course, the expansion of the brewery warranted the construction of a large brick building to house the brewing operation. The City Brewery, as it came to be called, was the most modern brewery in the Northwest. By 1890, the brewery produced 100,000 barrels of beer annually and was exporting it to far-off places like China and The Philippines. Weinhard was instrumental in promoting several public works, as well as making sure Portland was not bypassed by the railroad. Weinhard’s most infamous generosity to the Portland community came with the unveiling of the Skidmore fountain in 1887, when Weinhard offered to pay for the additional hose length that it would take to link the fountain to his largest lager tank in order to have the fountain spout free beer on its first day of operation (which was declined by the city). Weinhard died in 1904. After Weinhard's death, the brewery passed to his 2 son-in-laws.

The brewery survived prohibition by making soda, syrups, and near-beer. After Prohibition was repealed, it took a merger with Blitz Brewing and 20 years to recover and modernize. In 1979, Blitz-Weinhard was sold to Pabst, who sold it to Stroh's in 1996. In 1999 it was sold to Miller, who moved all brewing operations to the Olympia Brewery in Washington and put the building up for sale. In 2000 a developer bought the entire brewery complex, spanning 5 city blocks, and turned it into "The Brewery Blocks", a combination of office, condo, and retail space, part of the now-trendy Pearl District. Although some of the buildings were torn down and rebuilt, the main building was preserved and remodeled due to its listing on the National Registry of Historic Places. Henry's 12th Street Tavern in the remodeled brewery building is a reminder of the brewery's legacy, and the big brew tanks and smokestack are visible from the street. (Note: I see these buildings from time to time when I make trips into Portland to visit the iconic Powell's Books, which is right across the street).

After the Olympia Brewery closed, Henry's was eventually re-positioned as a microbrew and is currently brewed under contract by Full Sail Brewing in Hood River, Oregon. Weinhard's Red was an amber ale described as "red ale for beginners", and has been retired. Weighted average on is 2.65 out of 5 (the beer was more highly rated in its original Weinhard and Olympia days than it was under Full Sail).

Henry Weinhard's Official Website

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