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.

Tap Handle Blog Simple Search

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tap Handle #249: Miller - Lite Lighthouse

I love lighthouses, so I decided to obtain this tap. There are two versions, a lighted and an unlighted. I believe that if the tap has two screws on the underside of the gold ferrule on the bottom, the tap is the lighted version. There's an LED in the top, and you have to unscrew the two screws in the base to access the battery compartment, which takes two batteries (I think they were AA batteries). Unfortunately there's no off switch, so once you put the batteries in and screw the base back on, when the light comes on it stays lit and you can't shut it off. I plan on modifying mine to add a switch. Although many of these were made, they've long been out of production, and many have been damaged over the years. The finish is also prone to yellowing.

For more about Miller, see this post.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tap Handle #248: Red Brick - Laughing Skull Amber Ale

This is a great little tap. It's in the shape of a coffin with a weird skull on top. There's another version of the tap that is just a wood sign with a label. This figural version is pretty rare.

 Red Brick Brewing was founded in 1993 in Atlanta, Georgia, and was originally known as the Atlanta Brewing Company. Their first location was a Red Brick building and their first beer was Red Brick Ale. They struck a deal to brew Laughing Skull, a Bohemian Style Pilsner, for the Vortex restaurant. In 2005, the brewery came under new ownership and management. Current owner/CEO of Red Brick, Bob Budd, re-approached The Vortex in resurrecting Laughing Skull, but this time as an amber ale, and it quickly became their best-selling beer. They also brewed Numbers Ale, originally a contract brew for Atlanta-area restaurants owned by Concentrics Hospitality Group, and Reverend Mudbone Ale, a brew contracted by Jim 'n' Nicks, a barbecue restaurant.

In 2007, growing demand for Red Brick beers required them to move to a new location, and they expanded distribution to 8 states across the southeast, with 6 full-time beers and 3 seasonals. In 2010 ownership and management re-branded the Atlanta Brewing Company as Red Brick Brewing...since their beer brand was Red Brick, they felt having two different names for the beer and brewery was too confusing to customers.

Laughing Skull is an amber ale with a crisp, clean finish that’s sure to clear out the cobwebs. It has a medium body, moderate hop aroma, and light roasted malt flavor.Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.81 out of 5.

Red Brick Official Website

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Search Function Replaced, Labels Updated

I've removed the defective Google search and replaced it with my own version. Also, I spent some time adding labels to each post. I mostly added brewery names instead of varieties to keep the list of labels from getting too huge.

Bottom line is, it should be easier to find exactly what you're looking for now...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tap Handle #247: Kirin - Ichiban Dragon

The detail on the dragon is excellent for this tap, and it is very rare. It's only sculpted on the front side; the back side is flat.

For more about Kirin, see this post.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tap Handle #246: Brewery Van Steenberge - Piraat

This is a beautiful tap with nice, bright colors. It's fairly common for a foreign tap, which is unusual.

Piraat comes in a variety of offerings, but the most popular is Piraat 10.5%, which is a wickedly rich and rounded brew that packs a mighty punch. The color is deep golden with a subtle haze. Lots of hops and malt provide a mild sweetness, reminiscent of bread dough, spices and tropical fruits. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.59 out of 5.

For more about Brewery Van Steenberge, see this post.

Search Gadget Not Working

For some reason the Search feature above the posts is not working. I suspect it has something to do with either the number of posts or the amount of content. It's a third party gadget, so assistance from Blogger is unlikely. I'm looking into developing my own search tool gadget. Until then, you'll have to try to find posts based on tags or entry dates. I didn't use tags to their full extent, and now that feature is certainly lacking as a result, but I'll try to update post tags as I have time...

Tap Handle #245: Bridgeport - India Pale Ale

I had my eye on this tap for some time and just had to have it. I got the tap at a great price. It features the iconic St. John's Bridge in Northwest Portland. The St. John's Bridge (pictured right) is a steel suspension bridge, built in 1931, that links North Portland to Northwest Portland by spanning the Willamette River. Many scenes in the TV show Grimm are filmed near the bridge, and this tap itself was one of the ones I mentioned as being visible in the TV show Leverage (in which the last season was filmed in the Bridgeport Brewpub).

Bridgeport India Pale Ale is deep golden in color, with a floral, citrusy aroma and a full hop flavor with a subtle bitterness, and is double fermented. It has won numerous gold and silver medals at various competitions. Recommended food pairings are grilled lamb, spicy curry, Gorgonzola, and carrot cake. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.51 out of 5.

For more about Bridgeport Brewing, see this post.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tap Handle #244: Metropolitan - Krankshaft Kolsch

Krankshaft was on my wishlist back when I started this blog. I finally obtained one and I love it! It definitely has a steampunk feel to it. The only difference among the varieties is the label.

Click through to read more about Metropolitan Brewing and their Krankshaft Kolsch...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tap Handle #243: Hangar 24 - Belgian Summer Ale

The Hangar 24 taps strike a chord with me, due to the fact that my grandfather was a pilot and owns an old Meyers OCB (open cockpit biplane). It's a beautiful tap featuring wood for the propellers and metal in the center. The Alt-Bier, Orange Wheat, and Amarillo Pale Ale versions are fairly common, while others are more rare, with the main difference being the labeling and color of the metal center.

Hangar 24 was founded in 2007 in Redlands, California by Ben Cook. Cook was a Riverside native who worked in Quality Assurance at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Van Nuys, CA. He was also a pilot who would meet his buddies at hangar 24 at the Redlands Airport after an afternoon of flying, to trade stories, talk aviation, play music and share beer that Ben had brewed at home. While learning about QA/QC at AB and majoring in Biology at California State University San Bernardino, Ben fell in love with beer and its culture. Wanting to learn more, he attended and graduated from the Master Brewers Program at the University of California, Davis.  Following graduation Ben began renting a 4,640-square-foot hangar adjacent to the Redlands Airport, which was built during World War II on the former Norton Air Force Base, but had been relocated to its present spot in 1960 for the construction of biplanes. He was able to purchase equipment from the Monte Carlo Casino, which had brewed their own small-batch beers in their basement for their brewpub, but folded their operation just as Cook starting looking for equipment. He named the brewery Hangar 24.

Business soon took flight, and by the end of 2011, Hangar 24 had rolled out 15,000 barrels, making it the 88th largest craft brewery in the nation. The company employs a team of 97, produces 30 craft beers for thousands of customers and owns 1,200 barrels worth of fermentation capacity. Its flagship beer is Orange Wheat, and is joined by six other “core beers,” four seasonals, six local field beers and a rotating cast of others, concocted with native fruits and herbs. Cook is doubling the building’s space to 9,202 square feet to expand the brewery, which includes both bottling and canning lines. Distribution now includes Southern California, the Central Coast, and now the Bay Area, thanks to the purchase of a 22,000-square-foot distribution center and the lease of a warehouse in Anaheim.

Belgian Summer Ale is a seasonal  recipe with aromas of clove, pineapple and bubblegum. The flavor is a combination of spicy Belgian yeast with hints of pear & nutmeg. It finishes with a pleasant tartness, which comes from a technique called Sour Mashing. This procedure allows natural bacteria to produce a small level of lactic acid prior to fermentation. The result is a complex, slightly sour treat. Recommended food pairings are fruit salad, calamari, grilled fish, light pastas, Gouda and mozzarella. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.22 out of 5.

Hangar 24 Official Website

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Tap Handle #242: Schell's - Oktoberfest

What a beautiful tap! I had really wanted this tap and jumped on the chance to get one at a good price. There's lots of great detail, from the bricks on the side to the tiny deer on top. The only difference among varieties is the label.

August Schell was born in 1828 in Durbach, Germany. August received an early education as a machinist/engineer but after a short time, became intrigued by the opportunities overseas. In 1848, August bid farewell to his mother and father, leaving his homeland in search of success in the United States. August made his way to Cincinnati where he worked as a machinist in a locomotive factory. In 1856, August and his wife and children headed to Minnesota in New Ulm. August found a job as a machinist in a flour mill, but in 1860, August partnered up with Jacob Bernhardt, and they erected a small brewery.

In 1866, Bernhardt became ill and decided to sell his share of the brewery, which August purchased. The brewery flourished as August made numerous additions. At the age of 50, August became stricken with severe arthritis which greatly affected his activities within the brewery. Management responsibilities fell to his youngest son Otto, who studied brewing in Germany, and August died in 1891. In 1902 the brewery was incorporated and Otto was elected president, his mother Theresa was elected vice-president, and his brother-in-law George Marti became secretary-treasurer. Otto’s sudden death in 1911 resulted in Marti being handed the reins of the company.

During Prohibition, the brewery shifted gears, producing "near beer," assorted soft drinks, and candy. George passed away in 1934 and his wife Emma became president. Soon after, the brewery management was passed on to his son, Alfred Marti. Al retired in 1969 and was succeeded by his son, Warren Marti. By the time Warren retired in 1985, Schell's brewery was experiencing unprecedented success and was ready for the entrepreneurial spirit of his son Ted. Ted's education was extensive, including studies at the Siebel’s Institute of Brewing in Chicago, as well as several breweries in Germany. Ted decided to take Schell's to a new level by introducing their own line of "specialty" beers, with styles ranging from Alt to Pilsner and Pale Ale to Weizen, and a number of these exceptional beers became medal winners.Ted’s reputation as an accomplished brewmaster grew within the industry, and along with that growth came an increase in the number of contract beers Schell's produced. During this time period, the brewery made 38 different beers, 16 of which were contracted lines sold under different names. In 1999, the brewery invested in their growth by adding a new state-of-the-art brewhouse. In 2002, Schell's acquired 109 year-old Grain Belt beer. Today Schell is the second oldest family-owned brewery in America.

Oktoberfest is a seasonal Oktoberfest/Marzen that uses a perfect balance of caramel, pale, cara-pils and black malts. It won a silver medal at both the 1991 and 2010 Great American Beer Festival. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.19 out of 5.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tap Handle #241: Pacific Western Brewing - 360 Lager

This is a very rare tap featuring a tufted puffin, a pacific coastal bird. The detail on the bird is good, and the area near the bottom that shows the brewery name and date with some background mountains is quite nice. The eyes light up (like my Sprecher Black Bavarian tap), so I lit up the eyes for the photo.

Pacific Western Brewing was established in 1957 in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Originally named Caribou Brewing, the brewery was built above a pure spring artesian source, with unlimited Northern B.C. spring water. The company went through six previous owners before being purchased in 1991 by Japanese-Canadian entrepreneur Kazuko Komatsu, now President and CEO of Pacific Western Brewery. Since Kazuko’s arrival in 1991, the achievements and the accolades have been regular and unparalleled. The first Asian Canadian to take a leadership role in the brewing industry, she has established her reputation and staked the brewery’s name on her unwavering quality standards.

PWB at one time offered 18 brews, including malts, pilsners, lagers and 100 per cent certified organic beers distributed primarily to the B.C. and Alberta markets, although their website currently shows only 7 varieties. The brewery’s latest success is its Cariboo family of beers, a brand that existed at the brewery years ago and was discovered and relaunched.

PWB 360 lager is a pale ale that appears to have been retired...there are no reviews past 2008 on ratebeer.com, and this variety is not shown on their website. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.0 out of 5.

Pacific Western Brewing Official Website

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tap Handle #240: Fire Island - Lighthouse Ale

This is a gorgeous tap handle, pictures don't really do it justice. The detail and paint are excellent, and of course I really like lighthouses.

Fire Island Beer Company started in Long Island, New York in 1999 with brothers Tom and Bert Fernandez and their cousin, Jeff Glassman. Tom began homebrewing at his family’s beach house in Fire Island and the three developed their craft beer. They served early batches of Lighthouse Ale to Fire Island residents at the The Shack, a lunch counter and bar in Atlantique, one of the towns on Fire Island. They founded Fire Island Beer Company in 2007 to formally put their beer into distribution. Their first offering, Fire Island Lighthouse Ale, was launched in May 2009. The name was chosen as a tribute to the Fire Island Light, a lighthouse that sits on the island’s west end. Fire Island Lighthouse Ale was initially launched and sold in the New York City Metro area, Long Island and Fire Island. In June 2009, Lighthouse Ale was named the “Official Beer of Summer” by NBC New York. Fire Island is brewed under contract through Olde Saratoga Brewing in upstate New York. Their goal is to build up a local base until they have enough loyal beer drinkers to open a brewpub on the island.

Lighthouse Ale is an American pale ale that was made to be light enough to drink all day long, with a soft carbonation and light caramel finish. It’s a beer for all seasons, all foods, and all friends, but pairing with herb roasted fish is especially recommended. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.77 out of 5.

Fire Island Beer Company Official Website (note: points for being creative, but this site is all kinds of broken)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tap Handle #239: Left Coast - Asylum Tripel Ale

Asylum is a tap I wanted for some time. Luckily I was able to obtain it. The detail is great, especially the label portion, which shows an old insane asylum complete with lightning and gargoyles. The color scheme is fantastic too. Just a great tap.

Left Coast Brewing was founded in San Clemente, California, in 2004. Their original intent was to brew beer for the Oggi's Pizza and Brewing Company restaurants. They began operations in a 5000 square foot warehouse and produced just over 3500 barrels of beer the first year. Since then, they have expanded their operation to include the production of beer under the Left Coast Brewing brand, and distribute to 7 states. They produce four beers full time with their flagship beer being Hop Juice Double IPA. The other full time beers are the Asylum Belgian Style Tripel Ale, Trestles IPA and Voo Doo American Stout. They also offer four seasonal beers throughout the year. They just opened a tasting room.

Asylum is a Belgian-style tripel ale with a beautiful golden color. It has a sweet and spicy, complex fruity aroma and flavor derived from a distinct Belgian yeast strain. Asylum finishes with a subtle, warming character. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.26 out of 5.

Left Coast Official Website

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tap Handle #238: St. John - Disney's Polynesian Resort

This is not really a rare tap, but it does have something that makes it a little more special than the standard St. John tap. St. John Brewery distributes all over Florida, including Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. When the tap was first listed I was skeptical that it was real, so I went to St. John's site and looked at their distribution map (Disney's Dolphin Resort is a distribution point for bottled beer), then talked to a manager on the phone at the Polynesian Resort, who confirmed they once served a few varieties of St. John on tap, but since they no longer served it there, explains why the tap was available. Whether Disney or St. John had the "label" made (it's really a magnet), and whether it was on tap in the Tambu Lounge or the Barefoot Pool Bar isn't clear. The standard 3 varieties of the "label" magnet are in the photo on the right.

St. John Brewery was founded on the island of St. John, Virgin Islands in 2005, by Chirag Vyas and Kevin Chipman. The two men were friends and former roommates at the University of Vermont, but became frustrated by the 9-5 lifestyle, so they quit their jobs and moved to St. John. For their first month on the unfamiliar island, Vyas and Chipman bused tables and paid a local $250 a month to sleep on an old sailboat. They missed the craft beers they had sampled in college, so they had ordered a $50 beer-making kit. Their hobby soon turned into a side business; since they had no bottling facility, they sterilized large, glass water bottles that they collected from restaurants and used them to house the variety of beers they were creating. As the demand for their beer outgrew their ability to produce locally, the two teamed up with Shipyard Brewing for contract brewing and bottling. The first batch of more than 1,300 cases of Tropical Mango Pale Ale arrived on a 40-foot container.

St. John Brewery presently brews 6 varieties of beer, as well as a root beer and an energy drink. Their products are sold throughout the Virgin Islands as well as in several states in the U.S. Additionally, Vyas and Chipman own and operate The Tap Room, the flagship brewpub of St. John Brewers located in the heart of Cruz Bay, St. John.

Tropical Mango is St. John's flagship brew, a fruit beer with a subtle exotic fruit nose and mild hop finish. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.53 out of 5.

St. John Brewing Official Website

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tap Handle #237: Capital Brewing - Supper Club

Yes, this tap is pretty much a toy on a stick, but I still like it, and I like it even more for the supper club label. Most versions differ only in the label, although there is a really nice one with a big red "W" on it.

Click through to read more about Capital Brewing and their Supper Club lager...

Tap Handle #236: Boulder Beer - Singletrack Copper Ale

This tap has been in the collection for some time, but somehow I missed taking a photo and creating a post. Better late than never! Anyway, there's lots of great detail in this tap, although the face is pretty crudely painted. My version is a pretty rare one, because most don't have the label with the brewery name (for an example of the more common tap, see the one to the right).

Singletrack is an amber ale that is brewed with toasted rye and caramel malt for a slight nutty flavor with a brilliant copper color. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.97 out of 5.

For more about Boulder Beer, see this post.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Tap Handle #235: Heileman (Pabst) - Special Export Globe

This is not a very fancy tap handle, but I have a soft spot for Special Export...I have several of their lighted bar signs because they are usually nautical or world-traveling themed. The words "Special Export" on the globe could use a little touch up, and it's showing some wear, but it's a classic. It's an old wooden tap from the 70s or early 80s.

Johann Gottlieb Heileman was born in the German state of Wurttemberg in 1824. In 1852 he left for America and soon settled among many other German immigrants in Milwaukee, where he helped to found a bakery. Five years later he moved to the western Wisconsin city of La Crosse; his first job there was at a small brewery recently started by fellow German immigrant Johann Gund. Gund entered into an agreement with Heileman to build the new City Brewery. The partnership between Gund and Heileman lasted for 14 years until 1872, when Gund sold his interest to Heileman. The sudden death of Heileman in 1878 saw his widow Johanna keep the brewery open, becoming the first female CEO of an American brewing company. She continued her involvement in the business until 1911.

In 1902 Heileman replaced their flagship brand, Golden Leaf, with Old Style Lager. During Prohibition, Heileman reduced its staff and produced non-alcoholic “near beer” and sold malt. After Prohibition ended in 1934, when the Heileman's brewery workforce asked for an extra strong brew to be made for the annual company picnic, the brewmaster concocted a new recipe, and Heileman's Special Export was born. Demand for Heileman brands became greater than capacity and they grew rapidly. By 1967 Heileman was able to purchase Wiedemann. The acquisitions continued with Blatz, Carling, Rainier, and Lone Star. In the 1980s, they briefly occupied third place behind Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing. But it all came crashing down when Alan Bond, who had recently taken over Australian brewers Swan, Castlemaine and Tooheys, persuaded Heileman shareholders to accept a leveraged buyout, financed with junk bonds. Costs were trimmed, but instead of spurring growth and profit, the result was that sales declined and the company began to lose money.

In 1990, Bond was forced to resign from his own holding company and served four years in prison for financial fraud. With the value of its growing debt exceeding its assets, Heileman declared bankruptcy in 1991. In 1993 the court allowed Heileman’s creditors to sell the company for $390 million to a Texas investment partnership that specialized in turning around troubled firms, but the new owners had no experience in brewing. They turned to Joe Martino, who had went from sales and marketing jobs for Anheuser-Busch and Miller, to federal prison for conspiracy and filing a false tax return. Despite his prison sentence, Martino was well-respected among wholesalers and industry executives, and was named the new marketing and sales chief of Heileman. In an effort to generate more revenue, Heileman had been heavily discounting its beers, which instead drove their profit margins down. Seeing the need to market higher-price extensions of its popular-price and premium-price brands, Martino helped launch Old Style Grenadier in the Midwest, Rainier Yakima in the Northwest and Lone Star Sabinas in Texas, as well as  Henry Weinhard Boar's Head Red.

The premium brands did not generate enough income to rescue the company as planned. In early 1996, faced with the inability to make required interest payments and meet its payroll, Heileman declared bankruptcy a second time and was acquired by Stroh, which was fighting for its own survival. Stroh used the Heileman facility in La Crosse to brew a variety of brands, but beer sales flattened, and Stroh announced in 1999 that it would cease brewing and sell its brands, including Heileman’s, to Miller and Pabst.

The La Crosse brewery, home to Heileman operations for 138 years, closed in 1999. A group of former Heileman managers and local business leaders sought to find a way to reopen the plant. There were several false starts, but by early 2001 the newly resurrected City Brewery was again brewing beer. They secured contracts from other brewing firms such as Pabst. City Brewery does not own any of the former Heileman brands, which belong to Miller and Pabst, although ironically one of the beers they brew under contract to Pabst is Special Export.

Special Export is a pale lager brewed to be crisp and smooth with a true European taste profile. Recommended food pairings include bratwurst and picnic food. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 1.82 out of 5.

Special Export Official Website