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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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve Thoughts and Portland Cider Company Hard Cider

On this last day of 2013, I'm very happy that I completed over 150 posts for the year. It looked like I might not make it, but a late push helped me get there. That's almost 1 post every other day, which is probably the best I can do, but in 2014 I'd like to try to top that.

I have to admit I have a really terrible sweet tooth. What makes this a royal pain, besides consuming empty calories I don't need, is the fact that I'm hypoglycemic. My body has difficulty metabolizing simple sugars, and when I consume them, I suffer from headaches as well as digestive issues that don't need to be spoken of in detail. Drinking a glass of Mountain Dew, eating a piece of cake, or munching too much caramel corn causes me much suffering soon after eating such sugary sweets.

Beer Blog Profiles #3: Appellation Beer

Stan Hieronymus runs a blog called Appellation Beer, but he has done so much more than that - he is an accomplished author of such works as Brewing With Wheat, Brew Like A Monk, and For The Love Of Hops. His blog is full of lots of great and interesting material. My favorites are:

The Hop Union Hop Aroma Wheel

Finding Sanctuary on 9-11

Shock Troops of the Beer Revolution

Stan also reviews beer industry books and discusses monastery brewing. Check out his blog, there's so much good stuff there to read that you can get lost for days. I'm adding a link in the sidebar to his site.

Tap Handle #355: Bridgeport - Kingpin Double Red Ale

Tap size:  10.25"
Rarity:  Uncommon
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

Like the Hurricane Reef tap I profiled last week, this is a bas relief styled tap, mainly flat, but with the gangster sticking out slightly from the wall. The front and back are identical to each other, as are the two sides. I was surprised when receiving it, it is much more impressive in your hand than it appears in photos. There are a few other versions of the Kingpin tap, including another figural one featuring a bowling pin. However, bowling pin taps have been made by several breweries...this theme is much more unique.

Click through to read more about Kingpin Ale and to see more photos of this killer tap...

Tap Handle #354: Crispin - Original Super Premium Hard Cider

Tap size:  10.25"
Rarity:  Uncommon
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

I'd seen this tap for a few years but never acquired it, because there was always something else I wanted more. However, when I received it as part of a group purchase, that worked out pretty well. It's basically a bunch of ice cubes stacked on top of one another, as Crispin was made to be served over ice. The front and back are almost identical to each other, with only slight sculptural differences found in the ice cubes. This is true for the sides as well. The clear lucite ice cubes are nicely done. This tap is fairly easy to find, as well as being inexpensive.

Click through to read more about Crispin and to see more photos of this cool tap...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Tap Handle #353: Dogfish Head - Uber Shark

Tap size:  12"
Rarity:  Rare
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

The Uber taps from Dogfish Head have developed a legendary status. In 2008 it was the Pimp Cane, one of the Holy Grails of tap collectors, and in 2010 it was the Steampunk tap, which often sells for $400 or more. The 2012 tap featured block figures that could be turned to make new figures, but it did not prove to be quite as popular. Every two years, the brewery releases one of these "Uber" taps as a celebration of beer and art, and distribution is very limited. This Shark tap breaks the two year cycle; it is the Uber tap for 2013, and it's gorgeous, featuring a great white shark swallowing a whole bottle of Dogfish Head beer. The custom metallic purple ferrule is also a nice touch. The tap was designed by artist Jim Mazza, who you can read about in this post on Dogfish Head's website.

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

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tap Handle #352: Creemore Springs - Mad & Noisy Hops and Bolts IPL

Tap size:  11.75"
Rarity: Scarce
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

For those who have followed the blog since the beginning, they might remember the euphoria I had when I first obtained the Dogfish Head Steampunk tap, the number one tap on my wishlist at the time. I think obtaining this Mad & Noisy tap is right up there as one of my best acquisitions. This is as rare of a tap as you are likely to ever see, and it is a beauty. With all kinds of gears, metal cylinders, bolts, and even a hop sticking out of the top, it's amazingly detailed and stunning to look at, with lots of bright, bold metallic colors. Due to a limited area of distribution and low production numbers, this tap is very hard to come by.

Click through to read more about Creemore Springs and their Mad and Noisy Brewing division, and to see more photos of this epic tap handle...

Beer Blog Profiles #2: 50 States of Beer

In my next segment of introducing you to blogs that provide great reading material, I've focused on 50 States of Beer. Brian has done some great work here, profiling beers from every state while providing a few nuggets of information about the state itself. Several of the beers he has covered have taps profiled right here at Amazing Tap Handles (he gives me a shoutout on a couple of them).

It should be noted what a fun, fascinating, and difficult project that must have been. Not drinking the beers - that part was easy. No, I'm talking about obtaining a beer representing each state (which due to lingering Prohibition-era laws and limited distribution can be tricky), especially when Brian lives in New England, far away from the Western states. He also had to take time to research the facts he provided, as well as write up the entire experience. And he did this in the order the states were admitted to the Union. Well done!

So head on over to 50 States of Beer and check out all of Brian's hard work. My favorites are Oregon and Washington (because I live in that area), but it's fascinating to read about beer as it relates to the other states. I'm not sure what Brian has planned now that he's covered all 50 states, but I'm looking forward to what happens next...


Friday, December 27, 2013

Tap Handle #351: Chicago Beer Company - Chi Town Pier Pale Ale

Tap size:  8"
Rarity:  Rare
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

Upon receiving this tap, it was smaller than I expected it would be. Despite that, it's a pretty impressive piece with some nice detail. It's quite rare and as a result it can be expensive to acquire. If you have the opportunity to obtain it, pay close attention to the spokes of the wheel behind the sailor, as the tips of the spokes can chip off very easily on the front and the back.

Click through to read more about Chicago Beer Company and this iconic tap...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tap Handle #350: Jim 'N Nick's - Reverend Mudbone's Homegrown Hopshine

Tap size:  10.5"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

For post #350, and Christmas Day, here's a special tap and one of my new favorites: Reverend Mudbone. The detail on this tap is amazing, from sculpted hairs on the paw that is holding the tray, to the classic antique-looking label that reminds you of 19th century snake oil libations. I love this tap! As I mentioned in post #248 (Red Brick Laughing Skull), Red Brick was formerly Atlanta Brewing, and Reverend Mudbone was a beer they contract brewed for the Jim 'N Nick's restaurant chain. The tap is very rare and hard to come by...from my understanding, this beer has been retired and is no longer made.

Click through to read more about Jim 'N Nick's Restaurants, their Reverend Mudbone Homegrown Hopshine, and to see more photos of this wondrous tap...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Beer Blog Profiles #1: alcohol by volume

As I mentioned in a previous post, I will occasionally guide you towards other beer-related blogs that I think are interesting. The very first blog I'm featuring is called alcohol by volume, or abv for short. Paige is the blogger behind abv, and her writing style is really engaging. There's quite a bit of content and a lot to explore, especially for those in the midwest, as several posts range from Michigan to Texas.

Not only is the site blessed with excellent writing, but the pictures are gorgeous, too - always in focus with perfect exposure - it's enough to make a fellow blogger jealous! I like blogs that talk about history, travel, and food, and abv has a good mix of all of them. I highly encourage you to click the link in the sidebar and explore it for yourself. My favorite posts would be:

California Common and Anchor Steam Beer

Sour Ales

Fresh Hop Beers

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tap Handle #349: Heavy Seas - Loose Cannon Hop 3

Heavy Seas has made one of the best "toy on a stick" taps out there. The pirate theme is awesome - who doesn't like pirates? The detail on the skull is excellent, and the hat and eye patch are a nice touch, with the Heavy Seas brand visible on the hat. The varieties differ based on the label, and the labels themselves are both humorous and beautifully illustrated. Many of these taps were made, so they are fairly easy to find.

Heavy Seas was founded in 2003 in Baltimore, Maryland, by Hugh Sisson.
In 1980, Sisson had planned on becoming a stage actor and director until his father Albert persuaded him to come help at his tavern, called Sisson’s, where he focused on imports and then craft beers to separate the tavern from others in the area. In the mid ’80s, he and his father decided to convert the pub to a brewpub. Sisson, his father, and former Senator George Della, Jr., lobbied for a bill that legalized brewpubs in Maryland. In 1988, the bill was signed into law, and in 1989, Sisson’s became a Maryland’s first brewpub, with Hugh at the helm as brewer.

In 1994, he left Sisson’s to found Clipper City Brewing, named after the clipper ship, which was first constructed in Baltimore. He intended to fill the gap that was opened when production of the National Bohemian brand moved out of the city. He managed sales, accounting, and even worked shifts on the kegger. A rocky market made contract brewing necessary to enable the brewery to stay afloat. Clipper City purchased another Baltimore brewery, Oxford, in 1997 to add volume. In 2003, a third brand called Heavy Seas was created. The Heavy Seas brand grew quickly, and in 2010, the Oxford and Clipper City brands were renamed or discontinued. Sisson has served on the PR committee for the national Brewer’s Association. He is one of the founding members of the Brewer’s Association of Maryland and has served as president, vice president and treasurer multiple times. He also founded the Cross Street Irregulars, Baltimore’s first homebrewing club. And since 1986, he has been an active player in legislative issues surrounding beer in Maryland, from festival legislation for manufacturing brewers to growler legislation for retailers. For 23 years, he has co-hosted a weekly radio show reviewing wines, beers, and spirits on the Maryland NPR network.

In 2011, the brewery increased its square footage from 15,000 to 25,000, and in 2013 the facility added more equipment, with plans to produce 85,000 barrels by 2014. Heavy Seas beers sell in 19 states, from Florida to Maine and as far west as Michigan. Six varieties are brewed year round, with another 3 as seasonals, and their beers have won several medals at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.

Hop 3 is a triple hopped IPA containing over 3 pounds of hops per barrel and is the brewery's flagship beer. The carefully cultivated interplay of Simcoe, Palisade, and Centennial creates a most fragrant IPA - its nose bursts with notes of grapefruit, herbs, and pine. Bitterness is somewhat subdued by the floral quality that pervades the taste. The color is burnished gold, and the mouthfeel is creamy. A strong malt backbone balances out the triple-hopped beer. Its nickname, Hop3, comes from the brewing process: brewers hop Loose Cannon in the boil, the hopback, and the fermenter. Recommended food pairings are pork and applesauce, buffalo wings, and carrot cake. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.7 out of 5.

Heavy Seas Official Website

Source Material
Heavy Seas Website
Wikipedia
Baltimore Business Journal

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tap Handle #348: Florida Beer Company - Hurricane Reef Caribbean Pilsner

Reminiscent of the Kona taps, most Florida Beer taps are flat taps that have a slightly 3 dimensional sculpting that is called bas relief style. This style gives the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane. The effect on this tap is pretty cool, with the sea plane, banner, and palm trees raised above the background. The colors are bold and beautiful. Although other Florida Beer taps are more common, this one is a pretty rare tap that can be hard to find.

Florida Beer Company was founded in 1996 in Melbourne, Florida, as Indian River Brewing Company, by Bruce Holt. It produced its first beers, Indian River Shoal Draft and Indian River Amberjack in 1997; production of Kelly's Irish Hard Cider and a variety of private label beers began in late 1997-1998. The company was capitalized by about 65 shareholders, a guaranteed loan, and founder contributions. The Company was recapitalized in 2003 under the new ownership of Humberto Perez, who is a third generation brewer (his grandfather began one of Venezuela’s largest breweries back in 1929). The company was renamed Florida Beer Company. Perez hired Jim Massoni as President and CEO. Massoni was a successful businessman who originally worked as an executive at BEA Systems, an internet technology pioneer in Silicon Valley. His efforts at Florida Beer resulted in better beer distribution, higher quality brewing equipment, and numerous awards and medals.

In 2005 the company acquired Ybor City Brewing, whose subsidiaries included the Key West Brewery and the Hurricane Reef Brewery. After the acquisition, Florida Beer Company became the largest craft brewer in Florida. By 2008, the Company sold 19 different beers and two ciders, and contract brewed for a small number of customers, including Original Sin Premium Hard Cider and Kelly's Irish Cider. Florida Beer sells its products in Florida, New York, Illinois, Georgia, Alabama, Nebraska, Wisconsin, South Carolina and the Caribbean. The Company maintains two facilities, a production brewery (including a tasting room, retail store, and office space), and a 20,000-square-foot warehouse located one mile north of the brewery. In 2013 they received the rights to produce Duff Beer (The Simpsons) and Hogs Head Red (The Wizarding World of Harry Potter) for Universal Studios. The company has won several awards at national competitions.

Hurricane Reef Caribbean Pilsner is light-bodied, refreshing, and delicately balanced in the tradition of the Caribbean Islands. The pilsner is one of 4 varieties of the Hurricane Reef brand that Florida Beer acquired in 2005, and it won a silver medal in the 2013 U.S. Open Beer Championship. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.14 out of 5.

Florida Beer Company Official Website

Source Material
Wikipedia
Beer of the Month Club
The Original Craft Beer Club
Beerpulse
Brewbound

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Links and Other Beer Blogs

Over in the right sidebar I have begun to add links to other beer blogs that I consider "friends of the blog". I highly encourage you to explore these other blogs, as they contain some great content. I'll be adding a new feature called "Beer Blog Profiles", in which I will occasionally post about each of these other blogs in the Links section. Look for the first one later this week...

Tap Handle #347: Mudshark - HavaBlue Wheat Beer

Although this tap is simplistic and lacks detail (imagine how awesome a three dimensional version would look), the shape of the tap gives it a lot of character. It's flat, pressed metal with an enamel paint coating, and the whimsical feel comes across nicely. The best part is that they are fairly inexpensive.

Mudshark Brewery was founded in 1998 in Lake Havasu City, Arizona by Scott Stocking. The Stocking family relocated in the 1970s from upstate New York to Lake Havasu. Mudshark Beach (now Rotary Park), named after a famous Frank Zappa song, was a place to relax and enjoy all the activities associated with “River Life.” Scott Stocking opened his first store, Mudshark Pizza and Pasta, in 1984, and subsequently opened Mudshark Brewery and Restaurant in 1998.

In 2010 Scott Stocking & his wife Tina opened an offsite production facility in addition to the brew pub. In 2011 they added a bottling operation. Currently they produce 6 packaged brews, but they have brewed almost 40 varieties since opening. In 2012 they added solar panels and converted the facility to be 80% solar powered.

HavaBlue is an American wheat beer, pairing the bright flavor of blueberries with the smooth richness of vanilla bean to create a crisp, refreshing lightly hopped indulgence and a slight sweetness. Recommended food pairings are chicken, white fish, dessert, or a light salad. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.88 out of 5.

Mudshark Brewing Official Website

Source Material
Mudshark website
Havasu Magazine
Arizona Beer Sommelier Blog


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tap Handle #346: Bavarian Barbarian - Hammerin' Ale

What you're looking at here is an expensive and rare tap that has become very hard to find, since the brewery is no longer in business. On first seeing the tap I thought it was from Europe, until I dug deeper. The only difference among varieties is in the labeling. It's a great tap that impresses everyone who sees it.

Bavarian Barbarian was founded in 2007 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania by Mike Hiller. Hiller was a welder and actor who landed his first brewing job at Legend Brewing Company in Richmond, Virginia. Later, while living in Boston, he was inspired to open a brewery after reading the autobiography of Sam Calagione, the founder of Dogfish Head. Hiller spent much time working on his business plan and raising money to start the brewery. He purchased a large building that was previously a Ford dealership in Williamsport, and began by brewing kegs for local restaurants and bars, while opening a tasting room at the brewery called the "Horde Room". While Hiller brewed the first two varieties, Hammerin' Ale and Headbangerz Brown, his wife Kira ran the business side. Bavarian Barbarian was Williamsport's first production brewery since the 1950s.

Eventually the brewery expanded to as many as 10 varieties including year round and seasonal offerings. In 2010 it became embroiled in a small controversy when Hiller started a thread on probrewer.com asking fellow brewers for opinions on the ratebeer and beer advocate rating sites. Although Hiller's comments were fairly tame, some of the other brewer responses went a little overboard and ultimately the thread was deleted.

By the beginning of 2012, business conditions for Bavarian Barbarian had rapidly deteriorated. Caught between the bank trying to foreclose on their equipment and their landlord attempting to evict them for non-payment, the brewery was forced to close its doors. A final post to probrewer.com by Hiller warned strangers from contacting him to try to obtain his equipment ("an attempt to pick over the carcass of my lost company") or asking him for the details of his failings, calling it "extremely distasteful, rude and completely disrespectful."

Hammerin' Ale was an amber ale brewed to be a well-balanced, easy-going beer, with a rather simple recipe which yielded a deep amber color and a sublime balance of malt character and hop flavors. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.03 out of 5.

Since Bavarian Barbarian is no longer in business, there is no website to link to.

Source Material
Pubcrawlin' blog
BrewLocal blog
Mybeerbuzz blog
VisitPA.com
Beerpulse.com

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tap Handle #345: Hauser Estate Winery - Jack's Hard Cider

As I've mentioned before a few times on this blog, I really like hard cider. Hard cider was once the prevalent alcoholic beverage in the early days of the U.S., and has been making a comeback over the last few years. So any time I have an opportunity to buy a great looking hard cider tap, I'm going to pursue it. This has to be my favorite hard cider tap to date, with a twisted up apple. Jack's is an east coast offering, but maybe someday I'll have a chance to sample it. For now I'm really enjoying the tap, which is somewhat rare due to the small size of the winery.

Jack’s Hard Cider was founded in 2008 in Biglerville, Pennsylvania but traces its origins back to the turn of the century. In 1907 John S. Musselman, Sr. and his two sons, John Jr. and Christian High, purchased the Biglerville Canning Company. After a successful first year, a second canning facility was built in Gardners, Pa. This new plant, and the original one in Biglerville, provided much needed canned goods for servicemen during World War I, including corn, tomatoes, and sliced apples. John (Jack) A. Hauser was hired into the distribution department in 1934, and rose through the departments within the processing plant until he was positioned to take over the company.

In 1944, Musselman Sr. passed away and Hauser stepped in as president, where he turned Musselman’s into a household name across the country with its apple products. Hauser left his family with orchards, farmland and an estate. In 2008, Hauser Estate Winery opened its doors and the first bottle of hard cider rolled off the bottling line, labeled “Jack’s” in memory of Hauser's accomplishments. Initially the bottles were only sold directly out of the winery, but now they are sold in six states including Georgia, Virginia and Florida. In the past three years, cider production at Hauser has increased by 30 times. Jack's uses up to 19 varieties of apples, which can cause the taste to vary from batch to batch. Apples are grown, picked, pressed, fermented, filtered and canned all on-premise in their partially solar-power, fully underground and naturally cool winery and cidery. They produce 2 varieties year round.

Jack's original is dry, crisp and refreshing, with lots of bright acidity, none of the mustiness that can sometimes accompany a cider, and a great nose of baked bread and fresh apples like a freshly baked apple pie. Recommended food pairings are: blackened fish, citrus salad, barbeque, spicy salsa, and pumpkin pie. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.84 out of 5.

Jack's Hard Cider Official Website

Source Material
Jack's Hard Cider website
East Coast Wineries Blog
The Evening Sun
pennlive.com

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tap Handle #344: The Traveler Beer Company (Boston Beer Company) - Curious Traveler Shandy

This tap features some really great artwork, the styling of which is reminiscent of the surreal stop motion collage art used in British culture in the 1960s and 70s, in such influential shows as The Beatles Yellow Submarine and the Monty Python television show. It's so unique compared to other taps, which is commendable. I've seen a different version for the Jacko variety that is red with different art, but it's not striking as this tap.

The shandy tradition dates back to the 17th century and is typically beer mixed with a citrus-flavored soda or carbonated lemonade, ginger beer, ginger ale or cider. Today, English publicans pour a blend of traditional English ale with various lemon and lime beverages for their patrons, though real lemons or limes are rarely used.

Alan Newman of Alchemy & Science had traveled to Europe back when he was the founder of Magic Hat Beer Company. He was struck by the cloudy citrus-infused beer favored by the locals, known as a shandy. He came away from the experience determined to develop his own recipe. When he moved to Boston Beer Company's Alchemy & Science, he used that experience to combine craft beer with lemons and limes into his first shandy. The House of Shandy Beer Company was formed under the Alchemy and Science division and Curious Traveler was the first product of both entities. The House of Shandy was renamed to the Traveler Beer Company, and it now brews 4 varieties, including strawberry, pumpkin, and honey ginger.

Curious Traveler is a fresh, bold, craft-brewed, all malt wheat ale infused with real lemons and limes. This shandy has a lively fruity flavor and a powerful “throw your head back” fresh lemon aroma. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.81 out of 5.

The Traveler Beer Company Website (check out the great cocktail mixes!)

Source Material
The Traveler Beer Company website
All About Beer Magazine
beerpulse.com
origlio.com

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tap Handle #343: Starr Hill - Double Platinum Imperial IPA

I've always admired Starr Hill taps, but I never pulled the trigger on obtaining one until I finally picked it up as part of a group. The big star on top looks like a badge and is very impressive.

Starr Hill Brewery was founded in 1999 in Charlottesville, Virginia by Mark Thompson and Kristin Dolan. Thompson was a biology student who apprenticed at breweries in Portland, Oregon, in the mid-1990's to learn the brewing craft. Thompson was tabbed by James Bernau, president and chairman of Nor'Wester, to help set up and run their affiliate Mile High Brewing in Denver, Colorado in 1995 (see this post). While at Mile High, Thompson developed the recipe for his Irish-style dry stout through collaboration with Thompson Mambe, an African brewmaster who had worked at Guinness's St. James Gate brewery in Dublin. Mile High closed in 1996, at which point Thompson decided to returned to his native Virginia, determined to open his own brewery with recipes he had developed.

He found a historic storefront on Main Street that was once home to the state of Virginia’s first craft brewing operation, which had been founded by two grandsons of author William Faulkner. In 1999, Thompson opened Starr Hill Brewery. Named after the local neighborhood, the brewery shared its historic building with the legendary Starr Hill Music Hall, where Thompson's craft beers became a favorite to visiting beer lovers, musicians, and music fans. He brewed beer for the pub on the premises, and he contracted out the kegged and bottled versions of his beers to Old Dominion Brewing in Ashburn.

In 2005, in response to the growing demand, Thompson moved from his small brewing operation to a larger brewing facility 10 miles away in Crozet, in foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The building he leases was a former Swanson/ConAgra frozen food plant that was tailor-made for brewing on a large scale, with a complex physical infrastructure in place and plenty of room for expansion and experimentation. It even has a tasting bar. With ambitious plans to become a national brand, Thompson sold a a minority stake in Starr Hill to Anheuser-Busch, who agreed to distribute Starr Hill brands, which are now found in restaurants and clubs throughout the Mid Atlantic and Southeast, and are also available at many grocery and convenience stores in the region. The brewery has won 19 awards for its beers at The Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup, in particular the Dark Starr Stout (that Thompson developed at Mile High), which is the most decorated stout in the American craft brewing scene.

Starr Hill currently brews 6 year round and 4 seasonal varieties, as well as several other specialty and reserve offerings. They added several tanks to bring their capacity to 55,000 barrels of beer, and completed expansion of their facility, including a fermenting cellar. Starr Hill also collaborates to brew a beer for the Hard Times Cafe, as well as partnering with several local artisans to develop a bevvy of beer-related creations such as a chocolate brittle that features Dark Starr Stout in the recipe, an Amber Ale Vinegar, and a line of soaps using spent grains and hop oils.

Double Platinum Imperial IPA is a double IPA dry-hopped with Simcoe and Centennial hops to achieve a strong aroma of citrus and pine, balanced by a smooth, malty backbone and sporting a copper color. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.54 out of 5.

Starr Hill Brewing Official Website

Source Material
Starr Hill Website
The Washington Post
Flavor Magazine
Washington Business Journal

Friday, December 6, 2013

Artist Taps on eBay

As some of you know, I prefer taps that come from breweries rather than custom-made taps. The custom-made tap market, however, is a widely populated and highly flourishing market, and there are some great designs out there. A friend of the blog asked if I could spotlight the custom taps from a friend of his. To the left and right you will see a couple examples of his artist friend's work.

This artist's eBay ID is therandallknight, and you can find his taps here. He makes both taps and growler plugs. If you're into custom taps, definitely have a look at some of his offerings...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tap Handle #342: Schlitz - Lady on Globe

This is a classic tap from Schlitz that has been around for a long time, as long as at least the 1980s and possibly before that. The tap is plentiful and easy to find. The normal appearance of the tap, pictured to the right, is of a gold woman on a gold globe and base, with white letters on a red band. Kelly and I decided to give it a different look, one more colorful and realistic looking. What you see on the left is a repaint done by Kelly, a process I talked about about in this post about repairs and repainting. It's a beautiful, unique paint job that reveals quite a bit more detail, and puts a bright new spin on a classic look.

For more about Schlitz, see this post.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tap Handle #341: Green Man

A Green Man is a sculpture, drawing, or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Commonly used as a decorative architectural ornament, Green Men are frequently found on carvings in churches and other buildings (both secular and ecclesiastical). This Green Man has a gold face surrounded by leaves. There are a few variations of this tap, including some that have the beer variety on the base in raised letters, and a rare brown and yellow version that is all wood and more ornate.

Click through to read more about Green Man Brewing...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tap Handle #340: Hops Restaurant and Brewpub - Lightning Bold Gold

The Hops Restaurant and Brewpub has been responsible for producing some beautiful taps that have been high on my wishlist, and this tap is no exception. I'm afraid pictures don't do it justice...it's a beauty, and heavy too! The detail and metallic coloring are excellent as well.

The Hops Restaurant and Brewpub was founded in 1989 in Clearwater, Florida by David Mason and Tom Schelldorf. When the business took off, the two opened more Florida locations, and by the mid 1990s they were up to 13 locations. In 1996 the course of growth changed for Hops when Avado Brands, Inc. formerly known as Apple South, Inc., took an interest in the fast growing concept. In 1997 Hops was bought by Apple South, Inc., and joined their family of restaurants that included Don Pablo's. Hops also was awarded with A "Hot Concept Award" presented by Nations Restaurant News. They eventually expanded to 70 locations in sixteen states, and at one time were the largest brewpub chain in the country. But overexpansion and poor beer reviews caught up with the company, and locations began to close.

In early 2008, Rita Restaurant Corp. bought all the remaining Hop restaurants from Avado Brands and still owns both Hops and Don Pablo’s corporate locations. However, Hops brewpubs continued to close until finally only one location remained in Virginia. Hops has always produced 4 core beers, and has imported Czechoslovakian hops rather than using Pacific Northwest hops.

Lightning Bold Gold is a pale lager with a golden hue, medium body, and is a refreshing alternative to a classic lager style beer. Finished with imported Saaz Hops, Lightning Bold Gold promises a smooth finish. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.19 out of 5.

Hops Restaurant and Brewpub Official Website

Source Material
Hops Website
Charlotte Beer: A History of Brewing in the Queen City by Daniel Anthony Hartis

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tap Handle #339: Anchor - Christmas Ale

This tap was a gift from a friend. It's not very figural, featuring a tiny anchor on the top of the tap, but it's a gift, it's nautical, and Anchor's rich history is a good read. The timing is perfect, as I just returned from 4 days in California, where I attended my company's corporate holiday party. With stops in several places, from Santa Cruz to San Jose and San Francisco, it seemed that every single bar or restaurant was serving Anchor. One of my friends, a local employee from corporate, didn't hesitate in ordering the lager while we ate at a restaurant at the Santa Cruz pier. I did not try it myself, although I'd like to give the Christmas Ale a taste.

Anchor was founded in 1871 in San Francisco, California by Gottlieb Brekle. A German immigrant and brewer, Brekle arrived in San Francisco in 1849 with his family during the gold rush. He bought an old beer-and-billiards saloon for $3,500 and converted it to a brewery. German brewer Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the brewery and named it Anchor. In 1906, Baruth died suddenly, and two months later the devastating fire following San Francisco's great earthquake consumed Anchor Brewery. In 1907, just as Anchor Brewery was opening at its new location Schinkel was run over by a streetcar. German brewers Joseph Kraus and August Meyer, along with liquor store owner Henry Tietjen, were able to keep the brewery going.

Prohibition shut Anchor down in 1920. The brewery sat idle until Prohibition ended in 1933, when Kraus re-opened Anchor as the last Steam Beer producer (also called California common beer). The newly re-opened brewery went up in smoke the following year. He re-opened Anchor in an old brick building with a new partner, Joe Allen, close to its current location. Kraus and Allen valiantly kept Anchor afloat until Kraus’s death in 1952. By late 1959, America's new-found taste for mass-produced, heavily marketed lighter beers had taken its toll on Anchor's already declining sales. Allen shut Anchor down for a brief period, until Lawrence Steese bought and re-opened Anchor in 1960 at yet another nearby location, retaining Allen to carry Anchor's brewing tradition forward. But Steese had an increasingly difficult time convincing loyal Bay Area establishments to continue serving Anchor Steam, as he lacked the expertise and attention to cleanliness that are required to produce consistent batches of beer for commercial consumption. By 1965 the brewery had a deserved reputation for producing sour, bad beer, and Steese was ready to shut Anchor down.

A young Stanford grad named Fritz Maytag learned that the makers of his favorite beer were soon to close their doors forever. Despite its primitive equipment and financial condition, Fritz rushed to buy 51% of the historic little San Francisco brewery for a few thousand dollars, rescuing Anchor from imminent bankruptcy. He later purchased the company outright, and had to learn the brewing process from scratch, invest in improvements to the equipment, and focus heavily on cleanliness in the brewing process. In 1971, 100 years after the founding of the brewery, Maytag began bottling Anchor Steam Beer. By 1975, Anchor had produced four other distinctive beers: Anchor Porter, Liberty Ale, Old Foghorn Barleywine Ale, and the first annual Christmas Ale. Although the terms “microbrewing” and “craft brewing” had yet to be coined, Anchor was at that time fitting the description (which is why it now calls itself America's first craft brewery), and inspired many other craft brewers. By 1977, Anchor had five products, a dozen employees and had nearly outgrown its most recent brewery. After a long search, Maytag purchased an old coffee roastery, built in 1937, which is its current location.

In 1984, Anchor celebrated its fifth anniversary at its new home by brewing a special wheat beer, the first wheat beer in America since Prohibition, and now known as Anchor Summer Beer. In 1989, Anchor developed its Sumerian Beer Project and Ninkasi, a beer made according to a 4,000 year old recipe. Later that same year, the Brewery was rocked but not damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake. In 1993, Anchor Brewing became the first brewery in the world with its own in-house distillery. In 2010 Maytag retired and sold the brewery to former Skyy vodka executives Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio. In 2013, Anchor announced they will occupy what is now Pier 48 with production and distribution facilities, a restaurant, museum and other public attractions. The 212,000-square-foot space is an addition to Anchor Brewing's existing plant, and will quintuple the company's output from 120,000 to 600,000 barrels a year.  Construction is expected to begin in late 2014, and Anchor Steam could be on tap there by the end of 2016. Anchor currently brews 12 varieties, including 8 core beers and 4 seasonals.

Anchor Christmas Ale is a spiced herbal ale with ingredients that the brewery keeps a secret. Since 1975, Anchor has brewed Christmas Ale; the recipe is different every year, as is the tree on the label. Properly refrigerated, the beer remains intriguing and drinkable for years. Different nuances emerge as the flavor mellows slightly, much like the memories of great holiday seasons past. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.55 out of 5.

Anchor Brewing Official Website

Source Material
Anchor Brewing Website
Wikipedia
SFGate

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tap Handle Repairs and Repaints

One subject I haven't talked about much is repairs and repainting of tap handles. To hardcore collectors who only collect new or new in box taps, they'll have no interest in this subject. But for the rest of us, there are some important considerations we should think about when it comes to taps.

Most figural taps are made of resin. Resin can be poured as a liquid and cured as a solid, allowing it to be molded from an original sculpting (as opposed to wood or metal which must be carved or fabricated by man or machine). It also takes paint well, which, when combined with its molding properties, can make for some incredible-looking taps. The downside is that resin is fragile when it encounters forces that can cause chipping and breaking.

When you think about the limited runs of some taps, the use of them in bars and restaurants (where damage can easily occur), and the number that have been damaged or broken during shipping when packed poorly, some taps can be very hard to find. Any tap that can be "rescued", or repaired and repainted, should be considered as a way to preserve these limited collectibles.

I've mentioned my friend Kelly several times in this blog, mainly as the one who really grew the collection in the early years. Kelly also happens to be a talented artist, whose skills can bring a ruined tap back to life. He uses his talent and techniques that make it impossible to tell that a tap was ever broken, chipped, or missing paint. In some cases, Kelly can make a tap look better than the original.


A prime example of this is Kelly's Hobgoblin tap handle. We've managed to acquire some fantasy taps for Kelly - Chupacabra, Jester King, and Raven Special Lager being a few - and recently he acquired a Hobgoblin tap. As you can see from the photos to the left and right, the paint job on the Hobgoblin is not very attractive. There was also a good sized chip at the bottom of the tap.




After Kelly repaired the chip at the base, he began to repaint the tap. He decided to change the color palette, making the hobgoblin's skin green, and basically reinvented the tap with only his imagination as a guide. The results, pictured to the left and right, are astounding. Not only is it impossible to tell that the piece was repaired, the new color scheme is unique, and looks jaw-dropping. I see nothing wrong with  changing the color...which looks better: the tap that has an unattractive paint scheme and is chipped, or the repainted tap?

Poorly-done repairs, while "saving" the tap, can also detract from its appearance. It takes a skilled craftsperson to repair taps and make them look new again. If a tap is broken, it's better to leave it that way and let an expert fix it rather than trying to glue it back together...if a repair is done poorly, with globs of glue or features that no longer line up properly, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to restore. When selling taps, it's important to disclose that a tap has been repaired, even if it is hard or impossible to detect...it's just the right thing to do. However, it's okay to emphasize how good the repair is, and challenge buyers to even find evidence of the repair. When displaying repaired taps, a good repair will most likely go undetected by people viewing the collection, and to someone like me, who buys taps because I like them and not as an investment, that's just as good as having a new tap...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tap Handle #338: Revolution - Anti-hero IPA

This is the second of the two Revolution taps that I mentioned in my previous post. There's not much to add that I haven't already said about these taps, except that the white fist is usually paired with the Bottom Up Wit label...

Anti-hero IPA is an Indian Pale Ale with an American hop assault. This iconic ale features a blend of four hop varieties which creates a crisp bitterness and imparts massive floral and citrus aromas. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.68 out of 5.

For more about Revolution Brewing, see this post.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tap Handle #337: Revolution - Rosa Hibiscus Brown Ale

This is one of two Revolution taps I own, with both of them shaped like a fist. I was fortunate enough to grab the pair of them at the same time. It is very similar to the Iron Fist tap I profiled back in post #273. However, in a curious twist, the Iron Fist tap is right-handed, while this tap is left-handed. The big red star on the wrist also sets this tap apart. The label is magnetic, allowing easy changeovers to different varieties, and there are at least 6 different tap colors. The tap isn't rare but it is popular, with the green-colored fist being the highest in popularity.

Revolution Brewing was founded in 2010 in Chicago, Illinois by managing partner Josh Deth. Deth was a novice homebrewer who landed a job cleaning kegs at the now-defunct Golden Prairie Brewing in 1995. A few years later, Deth dreamt up the idea for Revolution while working at Goose Island as a cellarman and brew pub brewer. After the first few tries at opening a brewery didn't work out, Deth opened Handlebar in 2003 and worked as Executive Director of Logan Square Chamber of Commerce. While working at the Chamber, he found an old building on Milwaukee Avenue with pressed tin ceiling, exposed brick and timber, and weathered maple floors. After three years of raising funds, dealing with the zoning issues, and construction, the Revolution brewpub opened, adding a 2nd floor Brewers' Lounge in 2011. The opened a new production brewery and tap room in a second location in 2012. They brew three year round beers and 18 seasonal & specialty varieties. They have won medals at both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.

Rosa Hibiscus is an herbal brown ale steeped with hibiscus flowers and a touch of orange peel for a natural tartness and slight pink hue. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.08 out of 5.

Revolution Official Website

Source Material
Revolution Website
Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tap Handle #336: Hacker-Pschorr - Oktoberfest

It's hard to believe that it's been a week since my last post. Sometimes life has a way of mucking up the best intentions and plans. So I'm trying to slip in a tap that I don't have to do research on. This beautiful tap has some really fantastic detail, and is quite popular. Like the other Hacker-Pschorr tap, the Maibock, this one is expensive too. It has a nickname that I'll not divulge here in public.

According to one source, this handle was made expressly for Hacker-Pschorr in time for the 2011 Munich Oktoberfest. The picture to the right is of the 2011 Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Girl that it was modeled after. The beer hall in the background is from the Hacker-Pschorr Beer Pavilion in Munich Germany during the 2011 Beer Festival.

Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest has two versions, a lager and a Marzen. I'll cover the Marzen since it's the more available. It uses Bavarian barley slow roasted and caramelized to a rich, red amber color, combined with the purest spring waters from the Alps, exclusive yeast, and the finest Hallertau hops. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.38 out of 5.

For more about Hacker-Pschorr, see this post.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tap Handle #335: English Ales - 1066 English Pale Ale

My English Ales tap is in pretty rough shape. The paint job is terrible, it's got stains on it, and it's missing the ferrule. I'm hoping a paint touch up will restore it to a decent appearance. It's a project, but I couldn't pass it up for the price. I think it will look great when it is done. These seem to be pretty hard to come by.

English Ales was founded in 2000 in Marina, California by Peter and Rosemary Blackwell. Peter was a native Brit who wanted to brew authentic English beer in the Monterey area. He started by visiting breweries in England and attempting to convince the owners to license their beer to him. A pub owner directed Peter to Steve Winduss of Hampshire Brewery. Winduss was open to the idea and the Blackwells got started. Originally they wanted to open in Monterey, but the water costs were prohibitive, so they built a genuine English brewpub in Marina, doing most of the construction themselves. They opened in 2000, as a commercial brewery with attached brewpub.

The beginnings were tough. With no advertising, director of sales Jeff Moses drove around with a keg of beer from restaurant to restaurant, letting the owners sample the beer. It paid off, as orders increased and EA ran out of beer, which led to increased production. They now brew 8 year round beers and a few seasonals using authentic English recipes.

1066 English Pale Ale is the brewery's most popular beer. It is a classic English pale ale, light in color yet the strongest of their beers. The result is from European pale malt, balanced with a robust dose of hops. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.96 out of 5.

English Ales Official Website

Source Material
English Ales Website
Monterey County Weekly

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tap Handle #334: Fischer (Heineken) - Tradition Lager

Tap size:  11.25"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting: standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

This is an amazing tap...the detail is incredible. It's a kind of folk art devil, with a sign in its mouth, while the body tapers down to become the handle and ends at a cloven hoof. It has a carved wood look but is actually resin and is quite heavy. It's another one of those super rare European imports that are tough to track down, especially since the original brewery is closed, although I'm not certain if the tap was produced by the original brewery or the brand's later owner, Heineken. I've only ever seen about 3 others.

Click through to read more about the Fischer Brewery, it's Tradition lager, and to see more photos of this impressive tap...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tap Handle #333: The Great Beer Company - Hollywood Brunette

Tap size:  11.75"
Rarity:  Very Rare
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

Every so often I get a tap that becomes an instant favorite. This tap is one of them. It's a stunner that drew rave reviews from my friends when I showed it to them. It features a woman dressed for the Hollywood Red Carpet; she's wearing a swanky dress, along with pearls and gloves, with her hands clasped behind her back. The brewery name and beer variety appears just below her, using a classic serial movie design. Below that is the brewery insignia, with a larger version appearing on the backside. There are similar variations of the tap featuring a blonde and a redhead, with different hair and dress colors and a different name. The tap is very rare; only a few have shown up on the secondary market, and the price was quite expensive.

Click through to read more about The Great Beer Company, their Hollywood Blonde (I can't find any info on a Brunette variety), and to see more photos of this fashionable tap...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tap Handle #332: Humboldt Brewing - Red Nectar Amber Ale

Like the swallows I talked about in the recent Capistrano posting, it's always great to see hummingbirds show up on my property, heralding the end of winter and the return of warm weather. It's been awhile since I profiled a "toy on a stick" tap, but this one is really cool and highly sought after. They're hard to find in good condition, as the base, as well as the beak and wing tips of the hummingbird, are prone to chipping or breaking. They aren't available in any online store, so eBay is the place to pick one up. The IPA variety is very similar, with a yellow base and different colored bird.

Humboldt Brewing Company was founded by Mario Celotto in 1987 in Humboldt County, California. Celotto was a linebacker with the Oakland Raiders, and shortly after being part of the 1980 Super Bowl team, he retired from football and used his Super Bowl bonus to start the brewery. Steve Parkes, who now owns and runs the brewing school, American Brewers Guild, created the original Red Nectar Ale. The brewery was an initial leader in environmentally-conscious operations. Limited capacity and increased demand forced Humboldt to turn to the Firestone Walker Brewery for contract brewing. The line won several awards at the Great American Beer Festival, the World Beer Cup, and state and county competitions, including Mid-Size Brewing Company of The Year at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival. However, after Humboldt Brewing suffered some financial hardships, Firestone Walker bought Humboldt Brewing outright in 2005 and renamed it Nectar Ales.

Firestone Walker continued to brew the Nectar Ales line for 7 more years, continuing to rack up awards. In 2012, citing production and operational demands that required focusing on its own brands, Firestone Walker ceased most of its contract brewing, and sold Nectar Ales to Total Beverage Solution (TBS), who changed the name back to Humboldt Brewing. TBS is an importer and distributor, and since they don't own a brewery, the Humboldt brand continues to be brewed by Firestone Walker until 2015, when the contract runs out and TBS must find another brewing location. Humboldt's current lineup features 3 year round beers and 2 limited releases.

Red Nectar is an amber ale boasting a ruby hue and an exquisite floral aroma. It is a robust yet elegant brew with distinctive accents of toasted malt, caramel, spice and residual sweetness. It won a gold medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival and has won several state and county competitions. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.44 out of 5.

Humboldt Brewing Official Website (it's still pretty new and in the process of improving)

Source Material
Wikipedia
Brookston Beer Bulletin

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tap Handle #331: Budweiser - Bronze Clydesdale

Tap size:  9.25"
Rarity:  Uncommon
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

Like several other taps I have profiled from Budweiser that are bronze - the baseball player (#69), the bronco rider (#72), the football player (#85), and the bull rider (#78), this Clydesdale tap is part of what is referred to as the "Heritage" collection. It's a little on the small side but that in no way detracts from the beauty of the tap. It is the only tap that I have purchased (for myself) twice...the first one I had was stolen. I had picked up the package from the post office on my way to work, and when I got to work I opened the package and discarded the packing material. The tap disappeared off my desk sometime later that day. Fortunately I was able to replace it with one that was new and still in the original box for a decent price. Although these were once rare and expensive, over the years they have become easier to find and the price has dropped accordingly. If you are going to purchase one of these, look carefully at the "spines" on the back, as they break off very easily (there should be 7 spines in total).

For more about Budweiser, see this post.

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Museum Turns Two Years Old, Part 2

In this second post marking the two year anniversary of the Museum, I'll talk about the future of the Museum - what my goals are, new features you might see, and promotional efforts.

I have some lofty goals for this coming year. I may not be able to complete them all, but I'm going to give it a shot. The following is a list of things I'd to accomplish:
  • Continue to grow the site. While the current number of page views aren't bad for a hobby blog that doesn't get posted to daily, those numbers could be better. I tripled them in one year; for the next year, I'd like to triple them again (at a minimum).
  • Maintain, or increase, the amount of taps purchased. This will largely be dependent upon my financial situation, but I have a feeling that will turn around this next year.
  • Improved photography. I'd like to take high resolution photos of taps, from multiple angles, with a more professional look. This will be quite an undertaking, as I would need to re-photograph all existing taps.
Moving on, I'm targeting certain features that I'd like to add to the Museum.
  • The first feature I'm going to tackle is an expansion of the Links section - I'll be removing the tap handle list and adding links to other great breweriana blogs.
  • Second, if I can turn the financials around, I'd like to do some kind of contest or giveaways of excess taps that I acquire (some would even be specifically bought for this purpose).
  • Adding a graphic for each tap that contains a rarity rating.
  • Finally, I may be updating the overall appearance of the site to make it more readable and user-friendly.
I think the Museum has a pretty bright future. I hope you'll stick around to see how it shakes out!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Museum Turns Two Years Old, Part 1


This is the first in a 2 part series marking the two year anniversary of the Museum...

A little over one year ago, I created a post celebrating the one year anniversary of this Museum. This post celebrates the two year anniversary, and is a gauge to see how the Museum is currently doing by comparing it to the first year results. This time I'll throw in some fancy charts and graphs instead of listing a bunch of mind-numbing numbers. Let's dig into some data to see how the Museum has fared...



Although I wasn't as prolific in year two as I was in year one, I think I've spent a lot more time on writing the brewery profile portion of posts. Year 1 saw many more taps from the same brewery, meaning I could post much more quickly since I didn't have to write as many profiles...for example, there were 12 Coors posts in the first year, but I only had to write a brewery profile in one of those posts, which means the other 11 taps were posted very rapidly. For year two, I still managed to post a tap about every three days, which I think is pretty good.



As you can see, I've still been pretty prolific in acquiring taps. This is actually quite surprising as financial issues have definitely had an impact this year. I think the difference is that I backed off on acquiring high-end taps and focused on affordability.



Site traffic has exploded, tripling in just one year as more and more people find their way to the Museum. November of 2012 was the biggest month with 6246 pageviews, when the Museum was featured on reddit.com.


Overall site traffic shows a nice upwards trend. Although October looks down, there's still over a week left in the month to count views.



Audience: U.S. (40793 views); Russia (2109), Canada (947). The darker the green on the map, the more traffic from that country. Not much has changed here since last year, other than the U.S. has far outdistanced all other countries combined.

In Part 2, I'll talk about the future of the Museum - what my goals are, new features you might see, and promotional efforts.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tap Handle #330: Oceanside Ale Works - Buccaneer Blonde

I love adding taps featuring beautiful women to the collection, and this one is no exception. It's just a gorgeous tap with great detail, although it would look even better with a matte finish instead of gloss. This is a very rare tap...the only one I've ever seen in fact.

Oceanside Ale Works was founded in 2005 in Oceanside, California by Mark Purciel and Scott Thomas. Purciel, a high school teacher and beer lover, began brewing beer in his garage. He then started entering it into regional county fairs where he won multiple awards. He and his buddy Thomas, a local firefighter, decided to open up a small brew house and called it Oceanside Ale Works. They started out in a small site in an industrial park that barely had space for a tasting room and was only open to the public 2 days a week. The beers were named after local landmarks like San Luis Rey Red Ale and Pier View Pale Ale, made from old world recipes brewed with a Southern California interpretation. In 2010 they moved to a larger location in another business park. The bar is crafted from a large piece of the Oceanside Pier, and the tasting room is larger, with space for a food truck to provide eats. OAW remains one of the few manual brew houses in the USA, and currently brews 4 year round varieties and several specialty tap room batches that are stored in oak barrels.

Also in 2010, OAW was featured on Bloomberg TV in a show called The Mentor, that features top CEOs mentoring small business owners across America. Jim Koch, founder and chairman of The Boston Beer Company, brought his national business expertise to help Purciel and Thomas make the right decisions about scaling their business and finding a way to increase sales and distribution.

Buccaneer Blonde is a blond ale with a balanced light body and small amounts of honey add to its lager-like character. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.88 out of 5.

Oceanside Ale Works Official Website

Tap Handle #329: Dry Dock - Apricot Blonde

This is a beautiful tap with lots of great details and bright colors. It resembles the Drake tap I profiled in entry #185, but this Dry Dock tap is on a whole other level - it's far more figural and detailed. It's also more rare.

Dry Dock Brewing Company was founded in 2005 in Aurora, Colorado by Michelle and Kevin DeLange and Kevin Kellogg. The Delanges owned The Brew Hut, a homebrew shop, and decided that their store would benefit from an attached brewery. They leased an 800 sq ft space next to their shop, and with the help of fellow homebrewer Kellogg, they opened Dry Dock Brewing Company. The tiny brewery quickly got people’s attention the next spring when Dry Dock won Gold at the 2006 World Beer Cup for its HMS Victory ESB (now Amber Ale). They have also continued to win medals at both the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival, including Small Brewing Company of the Year in 2009.

Also in 2009, Dry Dock expanded to the end unit in their strip mall, both increasing the tasting room area from 30 seats to over 80 and upgrading to a 7 barrel steam jacketed brew system. Expanding again in 2011, the tasting room increased to 180 seats. In 2013, Dry Dock opened a production facility with a 40 BBL brewhouse and canning line in a second, 30,000 sq ft facility, to produce beers for distribution throughout Colorado. They currently brew 8 year round varieties and 7 seasonals.

Apricot Blonde is a fruit beer that was once a seasonal but is now a year round brew. It is a misty golden blonde color, with titanium white lacing, a bright, crisp, ripe apricot aroma, and a mouthfeel of prickly carbonation, round fruit flavor, and honey. It won a gold medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.37 out of 5.

Dry Dock Brewing Official Website

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tap Handle #328: Rainier - Mt. Rainier Nature Scene

I suffered some disappointment last year when I purchased a tap like this one and it never arrived. I got my money back, but had a hard time finding another until now. It's pretty rare, since the original brewery has long since closed. It's a beautiful tap with bright colors depicting Mt. Rainier in the background, with  a waterfall scene in the front. If you want to acquire one, pay close attention to the trees, which chip easily. I believe this tap was produced in the 90s, during the Heileman or Stroh ownership days, although it's entirely possible it could also have been used during the later Pabst or Miller days prior to 2003.

Rainier Brewing traces its origins back to 1854, when A.B. Rabbeson started Seattle’s first commercial
brewery, Washington Brewery, which was later renamed Seattle Brewery. In 1884, Edward Sweeney established the Claussen-Sweeney Brewing Company in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. Around the same time, Andrew Hemrich, the son of John Hemrich (an immigrant from Germany and a master brewer) left Wisconsin and arrived in Seattle in 1883. Hemrich and his friend John Kopp founded the Bay View Brewing Co. below Seattle's Beacon Hill, which boasted a cool, freshwater spring and a view of Elliott Bay. In 1893, Sweeney's brewery merged with Hemrich's brewery, the Albert Braun Brewing Company, and Rabbeson's Seattle Brewery to form the Seattle Brewing & Malting Company, with Hemrich as president, Braun as vice-president and Sweeney as secretary. In less than ten years they grew to be the world's sixth largest brewery and the largest on the west coast, despite closing the Braun Brewery. The number of taverns and roadhouses doubled, and by 1905, 25 horse teams were required daily to fill the Seattle appetite for Rainier Beer, the flagship brand of the brewery. Ads touted Rainier's "medicinal" properties, a setup for its later nickname of "Vitamin R". The beer was so popular that an urban legend sprang up that nearby Mt. Rainier was named after the beer, and production reached 300,000 barrels a year, while the company employed more than 300 workers. In 1913 the company consolidated in Georgetown and the Bay View plant ceased brewing and instead functioned strictly as a bottle-works.

In 1914, Washington State citizens voted for Prohibition. Louis Hemrich, younger brother of Andrew, was president of the company (Andrew had died in 1910), and he decided to move operations to California in the mistaken belief that national Prohibition would never pass. While Hemrich did produce near-beer and other products, he also decided to produce beer for Canada by buying the Imperial Brewing Co., renaming it the Rainier Brewing Company of Canada, Ltd. Even though the Canadian Rainier plant was later closed, the brand name remained popular in Canada. With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Rainier was brewed in San Francisco by Hemrich's Rainier Brewing Co.

In 1933, Canadian brewer Fritz Sick and his son Emil leased the idle Bay View facility and founded the Century Brewing Company. In 1934 they were able to purchase the property, and in 1935 they also acquired the Northwest regional rights to the Rainier brand and returned production to Seattle in a newly enlarged plant, on whose roof the company eventually installed a giant red rotating "R" neon sign which became an iconic local landmark. The brewery went through several names, such as Sick's Seattle Brewing and Malting and Sicks Rainier Brewing Company. Sick purchased the local baseball team and named them the Seattle Rainiers. Other brands of beer brewed by Sick's Rainier Brewing during this time included Rheinlander and Sick's Select. Sick's had also brewed Rainier at a branch brewery in Spokane, but that brewery closed in 1962.

During the 1970s, Rainier ran a number of memorable television ads, including the Running of the MFRs (Mountain Fresh Rainiers), featuring bottles with legs; frogs that croaked "Rainier Beer" (long before the Budweiser frogs); a spot with Mickey Rooney dressed in a Mountie costume; and a motorcycle that revved "raiiiiiiiii-nieeeeeeeer-beeeeeeeer" while zooming along a mountain road. The company often used pop culture look-alikes for its ads, such as the Brews Brothers and the R-Heads (parodies of SNL characters); a Lee Iacocca impersonator walking through stacks of beer cans, and a Rambo like character called "R-bo".

In the 1960s and 1970s Rainier began losing market share to the major national brands. The Sick family had left the brewery during this period and the brewery had been renamed Rainier Brewery. Molson bought a 49% stake in the company, and forced some economic changes. In 1977 the brewery was sold to G. Heileman Brewing Company. The brewery survived a close call when Heileman was forced to choose a brewery to close due to anti-trust laws and chose to shutter the Heidelberg plant. But in spite of loyal drinkers, advertising, and several new products including the infamous Rainier Ale (whose green bottle, green label, and strong flavor caused locals to affectionately nickname it "Green Death"), the brewery still struggled. The marketplace pressures of competing with national brands and the emergence of craft breweries was too much, as Rainier's ownership passed through several hands. In 1996 Stroh bought the company, but in 1999 the Rainier brand and recipe were sold to Pabst, and production of the beer shifted to the old Olympia Brewery. That same year, Miller purchased the Olympia Brewery and began making Rainier there under contract with Pabst. Finally, when the Olympia facility was shuttered in 2003, Miller contracted brewing of Rainier in Irwindale, California, where it is still brewed today.

The old Rainier Brewery complex was purchased by a development group, and in 2000 Tully's Coffee Corporation leased it for its new headquarters. The famous glowing red "R" sign was replaced by a neon green "T" sign. In 2003, a developer purchased the property and created the ArtsBrewery complex. That same year saw another developer begin the revitalization of the Rainier Cold Storage (the old Sweeney's Brewery site) into residential, retail, and office spaces. The iconic red "R" sign was moved to the Seattle Museum of Science and Industry. (Note: to the right is a photo I shot of the sign while I visited the museum on my recent trip to Seattle in September.)

Rainier is a pale lager brewed with pure spring water, golden barley and verdant hops to produce a beer rich in taste and texture. Fermented slowly with a pedigree yeast culture under tightly controlled conditions, it comes forth with a satisfying malty flavor over a slightly fruity background. It won a silver medal at the 1987, 2003, and 2005 Great American Beer Festivals, as well as a gold medal in 1990, 1998, and 2000. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 1.89 out of 5 (it is almost certain that the original recipe that was so popular around the turn of the century is not in use).

Rainier Beer Official Website

Once more I am indebted to www.brewerygems.com for assistance in providing history of the brewery, as well as www.historylink.org.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tap Handle #327: Angel City - Eureka! Wit

This tap is absolutely beautiful. I've always seen the white used for the Wit variety, but there are also silver, red, gold, and a gorgeous copper color versions of the tap. Pictures don't do it justice - it's an amazing tap.

Angel City Brewing was founded in 1997 in Culver City, California by Michael Bowe. Bowe's dream was to have a brewery in downtown LA, and in 2004 he got closer when he bought an 8,000 barrel German-made brewery in Alpine Village near Los Angeles...off of eBay! He restored the facility and Angel City stayed there until 2010, when Bowe was able to relocate the brewery to the historic John A. Roebling Building in LA’s Downtown Arts District. He had finally realized his dream of brewing in L.A., but unfortunately was unable to drum up the business necessary to sustain the company, and the doors were closed.

After it had sat dormant for 2 years, Alan Newman, Stacey Steinmetz, and the Alchemy & Science division of Boston Beer Co. bought the Angel City brewery, including the brand, the building, and the brewing equipment. Boston Beer Co. was making numerous investments, with the Alchemy & Science team devoted to continued experimentation both in product and acquisitions. The goal was to revitalize the brewery and bring a more traditional craft beer offering to LA. Newman and Steinmetz came from Magic Hat Brewery, where they helped invent Magic Hat No. 9. Angel City was a blank slate since there was no staff and no product. Newman hired former Gordon Biersch brewmaster, Dieter Foerstner, to help build the brand.

Foerstner labored in the brewery for a little over a year, revamping the brewhouse, outlining the plan with Newman, and working on recipes they intend to bring to market. Foerstner has a degree in Hospitality, with a background in food, and his recipes reflect that; he has created a grapefruit pale, an avocado beer, au jus-inspired French Sip, and Pickle Weisse, a light and tart Berliner weiss spiked with pickle brine. The brewery itself underwent massive renovations, including pillars with art deco ornamentation, ceramic angel statues, and a timber loft style mezzanine overlooking aging barrels. In 2013, it opened to the public after more than a year of building and brewing. The Public House is Angel City’s own 19-tap bar serving a changing roster of classic and newly inspired brews. The brewery hosts a regular roster of events ranging from art shows and live music to game nights, and beyond.

Eureka! Wit is a Belgian white brewed with coriander and orange peel, with bold fruit and clove notes from their unique yeast strain, balanced with a subtle citrusy hop finish. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.83 out of 5

Angel City Brewing Official Website

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tap Handle #326: Anderson Valley - Belk ESB

Tap size:
Rarity:  10 or less seen, fragile
Mounting:  3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

The first time I saw this tap several years ago, it shot right to the top of my wishlist. I missed out on the one I had seen, and it was a long two years before I finally obtained it. The Belk is part bear, part elk, a unique creation of Anderson Valley Brewing. It is basically a bear standing on a barrel with elk horns on its head. It doesn't look very friendly, either. Between the antlers is a sign displaying the name of the beer, while the brewery's name appears on the barrel at the base of the tap. Not very many of these were made, and they had a tendency to break, especially the antlers. As a result, when added to the fact that the tap is long out of production, these are incredibly hard to find - I've only seen a few others, and they always sell for a large price on the secondary market.

Click through to read more about Anderson Valley Brewing, their Belk ESB, and to see more photos of this fearsome tap...