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, March 26, 2013

tap Handle #259: Fireman's Brew - Brunette

Another part of a group purchase, I really wanted this tap and ended up getting it for a great price. It's a really cool tap, and all varieties are similar, except for the color of the base and the label.

Fireman's Brew was founded in 2000 in Woodland Hills, California by Rob Nowacyzk and Ed Walker. The two men are firefighters, and one day as they put out a brush fire, they started talking about brewing beer to raise money for firefighters. Nowacyzk had experience as a homebrewer, and would homebrew up a batch and test it out on friends, refining the recipe based on their feedback. It allowed him to perfect recipes before jumping into larger scale production. Their first beer was a simple, basic pilsner (Blonde), and they later added Brunette and Redhead. They nearly closed after 9/11 because they didn't want to profit from the tragedy. After enough time passed, the brewery started selling in high-end supermarkets and restaurants, then struck deals with Albertson’s and Ralph’s Supermarkets and nearly 1,000 accounts in southern California. Nowacyzk bought out Walker and became the sole owner.

Fireman's Brew does not have their own brewery. Most sources I've found say that they have their beer contract brewed at Mendocino Brewing, although ratebeer.com lists Indian Wells as the contract brewer. The brewery distributes to 5 states and plans to double that number in 2013. They donate 5 percent of their proceeds to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. In 2012 they started offering private stock to residents of California to raise capital for expansion.

Fireman's Brew Brunette is a dopplebock with rich structure, bold flavors and silky smooth finish. Handcrafted with a heavy dose of toasted chocolate malts to create a refined microbrew of uncompromised quality. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.2 out of 5.

Fireman's Brew Official Website

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tap Handle #258: Michelob - Honey Wheat Golden Ale

I obtained this tap as part of a group purchase and didn't think I would like it enough to keep it, but when I saw it I changed my mind. It's a nice tap and although it doesn't have a lot of detail, it has a whimsical feel to it.

Michelob Honey Wheat Golden Ale is brewed with European aromatic hops and toasted caramel barley malt for a balanced taste, and the addition of a touch of natural wildflower honey adds up to a just slightly sweet and uniquely soft beer. Recommended food pairings are turkey panini, smoked sausage, and honey roasted ham. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.35 out of 5.

For more about Michelon, see this post.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tap Handle #257: Catamount (Harpoon) - Pale Ale

Catamount prototype tap
This is an awesome tap that had long been on my wishlist. I really love the big mountain lion head, which has realistic features, including glassy green eyes. The three sides of the tap are metal, and the "labels" are really soft, flexible magnets that stick to the metal sides of the tap. I originally bought the Octoberfest version, but the magnets were really beat up - this is a problem due to the magnets being soft. Fortunately I found lots of magnets which you see pictured. I like the Pale Ale and Oatmeal Stout magnets the best - the dark colors really make the tap handle pop. There was another version that was a prototype (see photo above), but I still prefer this tap. I don't know when the tap I have was made, but Octoberfest wasn't introduced until it was owned by Harpoon, so even if the tap is from the 90's, it was still in use between 2000 and 2003.

Catamount Brewing was founded in 1986 in White River Junction, Vermont, by Stephen Mason, Alan Davis, and Steve Isreal. Mason began home brewing in 1975, and in 1981, after hearing about the establishment of microbreweries in the west, he examined the possibilities of opening a brewery in Vermont. In 1983, he traveled to England, where he apprenticed with the Swannel Brewery in Hartfordshire, near London. He returned to Vermont with a working knowledge of traditional British brewing practices, and for two years he put together a business plan, secured financing, purchased equipment, and searched for a location. Davis was a local entrepreneur who believed in Mason's idea, and Catamount became one of the first microbreweries in New England. While visiting his home town of Detroit, Mason salvaged a 28-barrel yeast tank from the Stroh Brewery for the kettle, while the mash tun was originally used in coffee making. Conditioning tanks and fermenters were custom fabricated. In its first year of production, Catamount brewed 3,000 barrels of Amber and Gold ale. Catamount Gold was a crisp blond ale that won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 1989. Catamount Amber, a full bodied British style pale ale, became the company's flagship beer. Draft was introduced in 1989, and Porter, which began as a holiday beer, joined the regular line. Contract brews, Post Road Ale and Frank Jones Ale, pushed production to 6,500 barrels.

For a while Catamount sold itself, as sales and marketing consisted of Davis driving around to accounts, but by the mid-1990's that was not enough due to increasing competition. Meanwhile, Catamount had expanded its production rapidly, going from 3,500 barrels in 1987 to 12,000 in 1993, when annual revenues reached about $3 million. Frustrated by a lack of promotional efforts, and a focus on production, Davis left the company. Catamount's board approved a $5-million state-of-the-art brewing facility in Windsor, financed mostly by a loan from a local bank. By the time the facility was completed in 1997, the market was down and Catamount was saddled with a huge debt they couldn't afford. In 2000 its assets were surrendered to its largest creditor, Chittenden Bank, who in turn sold the company to the Harpoon Brewery for a fire-sale price of $1 million.

Harpoon announced it would sell a line of beer under the Catamount label, and used the Windsor facility to make both it and their own brands. While Harpoon did continue the Catamount brand, production was a fraction of its former levels and suffered from a general lack of promotional support from Harpoon. Although Harpoon did release one or two new products, including a wassail and an Octoberfest, distribution was spotty and support non-existent. By 2004 Harpoon had phased out the storied brand, except for seasonal Maple Wheat.

Catamount Pale Ale was an American pale with the pale malt giving it a clean flavor and medium body, while the hops provided a floral aroma and a dry, hoppy finish.

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.24 out of 5
Beer Advocate (under Harpoon):  87 out of 100 (very good)

Since Catamount is defunct, no address or website is provided.

Source Material

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tap Handle #256: Jose Cuervo - Margarita

Okay, so this one's not a beer tap. But it's still amazing looking, and who doesn't enjoy a little tequila once in awhile? Upon delivery I was disappointed to discover two of the "splashes" are broken off. While it resulted in a refund and a free tap (and is hardly noticeable), it still bugs me. It is pretty to look at, though. I can't say I've ever seen Cuervo margarita mix "on tap" - but maybe I just don't hang out in the right places. There's also two other versions of this tap that are more rare: a tall, skinny version, and a blended version (no splashing since it's not on the rocks) that doesn't say "margarita".

In 1758, Antonio de Cuervo received a land grant from King Ferdinand VI to start an agave farm in the Jalisco region of Mexico. He built a small factory on this land. In 1795, King Carlos IV gave the land grant to Cuervo's descendant, Jose María Guadalupe Cuervo. Carlos IV also granted the Cuervo family the first license to commercially make tequila, so they built a larger factory on the existing land. The family started packaging their wares in individual bottles in 1880. The distillery was named Fabrica La Rojeña and is the oldest distillery in Latin America. The tequila was exported to the United States for the first time in 1873. In 1900, Jose Cuervo Labastida decided to brand the tequila as Jose Cuervo.

The company is now owned and run by heirs of the Cuervo family, the Beckmann family. Juan-Domingo "Dobel" Beckmann, son of Don Juan Beckmann, is the sixth-generation leader of the company. As of 2012, it is the largest selling tequila brand in the world, with a 19% volume share of the global market. The majority of Jose Cuervo tequila is a 51% mixto tequilla, meaning that 51% of its alcohol content is fermented from the sugars of the agave plant. The remainder is fermented from less expensive sugar sources. Legend has it that Jose Cuervo was used in the first margarita ever created.

Jose Cuervo Official Website

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tap Handle #255: Genesee - Cream Ale

This is a gorgeous tap that I coveted for some time. It features a "glass" full of ale sitting on a pedestal. The label on the pedestal reads "World Beer Cup Gold Award Winner". It's flat on the backside.

Genesee Brewing was founded in Rochester, New York. In 1857, Charles Rau partnered with a young friend and saloon worker, Emil Reisky, and established the Rau & Reisky Brewery. In 1874, the name was changed to Reisky & Spies. In 1878, the company was sold to Mathias Kondolfs, one of Rochester’s early entrepreneurs, who changed the name to the Genesee Brewery. In 1889 a group of English investors purchased the Genesee Brewery, the Rochester Brewing Company, and the city’s largest, Bartholomay Brewery Company. Louis A. Wehle, whose grandfather and father both worked at Bartholomay, began assisting his father at the brewery while still in high school. By 1909, Louis Wehle’s skills had become evident and Barholomay sent him to brewmaster’s school in New York City. Upon graduation and his return to Rochester in 1911, Louis was promoted to assistant brewmaster. By 1916, Louis Wehle was again promoted, this time to brewmaster at the Genesee Brewery. The next year, Louis moved to Buffalo to become head brewmaster at the Lang Brewing Company.

Prohibition forced Genesee Brewery to close, as did Lang Brewing. Wehle turned his talents to the baking business. His Wehle Baking Company pioneered home delivery of fresh baked goods. This enterprise netted Louis $1.3 million when he sold it in 1929. After Prohibition was repealed, and financially well-positioned, Wehle purchased the former Genesee brewery and a portion of the Bartholomay brewery, and incorporated the new Genesee Brewing Company in 1932, becoming one of only five brewers in Rochester to reopen after Prohibition. By 1934 Genesee had expanded its distribution across New York State and into parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio. By World War II, Genesee’s trademark brew was its 12 Horse Ale, with a team of 12 horses pulling a beer wagon as its logo. After its opening in 1933, the Wehle family would own and operate the Genesee Brewing Company for the next 67 years.

In 1984, it purchased the Fred Koch Brewery of Dunkirk, NY, but after the death of John L. Wehle, Jr. in 2000 and a failed sales attempt, the company executives formed an investment group and bought the brewing part of the business. The new company was named High Falls Brewing Company. Despite running a full lineup and doing contract brewing for Samuel Adams, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and Smirnoff Ice, the company started facing financial difficulty in 2002. In 2009, about to go bankrupt, High Falls Brewery was sold to a New York City investment group KPS Capital Partners to be run as part of its North American Breweries subsidiary. NAB announced that the name of the brewery would be changed back to Genesee Brewing Company to reflect the company's long history. In 2012, NAB was purchased by Cerveceria Costa Rica S.A, a subsidiary of Florida Ice and Farm Company for $338 million.

Visitor Center/Museum/Brewpub
The former Cataract Building
The company renovated a nearby former packing plant into a visitor center, museum, and brewpub. The new site was held up due to a building preservation movement when NAB announced they were tearing down the old Cataract Brewing building, which Wehle had purchased in an auction in 1940 (and where 12 Horse Ale was brewed). Unable to find a buyer who could afford the renovations necessary to make the Cataract Building safe and functional, NAB tore it down.

Genesee currently brews several brands of beer, including Genesee and Genny Light, Dundee, and Rock Wall. They also do contract brewing for several brands including Blue Point, Seven Kings, Narragansett, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Labatt Blue Light Lime and Labatt Ice, Mountain Brew Beer Ice, Stew Brew, Big Flats 1901, and Sainsbury's American Pale Ale.

Genesee Cream Ale is a warm-fermented lager with a signature top-fermenting yeast and a krausened aging process, resulting in a remarkably creamy white head and a body. Created in 1960, it won gold medals at the 2002 and 2004 World Beer Cup. Recommended food pairings are barbecue dishes, especially burgers and ribs. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.26 out of 5.

Genesee Brewing Official Website

Genesee Cream Ale has its own website, which you can find here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tap Handle #254: Hop City (Moosehead) - Barking Squirrel Lager

Another great toy on a stick. I love the detail on the squirrel, including the scowl.

Hop city was founded in Brampton, Ontario, Canada in 2009 by Kevin Gray and John Gagliardi. Gray started brewing after obtaining a degree in biology, while Gagliardi had been home brewing since he was 19. They formed Hop City to bring their home brewing recipes . Barking Squirrel was their first beer brewed. Hop City was created as a wholly owned subsidiary of Moosehead, but is operated independently as a craft brewery, which is why Gray and Gagliardi are the head brewers and not the owners. Currently Hop City brews five varieties and distributes throughout Ontario and to six states in the U.S. In  2011, the brewery won two Grand Gold medals at the Monde Selection in Brussels, Belgium, and Best Standard Lager at the World Beer Awards.

Barking Squirrel is is an amber lager with a distinct rich burnt orange color and subtle noble hop aroma. Its medium body, pleasant hop bitterness and caramel malt sweetness makes it smooth and drinkable with a slight hop aftertaste. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.94 out of 5.

Hop City Brewing Official Website

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tap Handle #253: Breckenridge - Agave Wheat

Tap size:  12.25"
Rarity:  Common
Mounting:  internal 3/'8" nut

This skeleton head is a figure inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead, and holds wheat stalks between its teeth. It earns high marks for using a matte finish instead of gloss. The base is nice too, with great little details such as the wood painted to look like an inlay, the brewery's name pressed into the side, and ovals pressed into the base to resemble a wheat stalk (it doesn't resemble the rosette of an agave plant as far as I can tell). It's a double-sided tap and has the same features on both sides. They are pretty easy to find and as a result the price is very reasonable.

Click through to read more about Breckenridge Brewing, their Agave Wheat Ale, and to see more photos of this tap...

Tap Handle #252: Coors - Batch 19 Pre-Prohibition Style Lager

Another tap I got as a gift, Batch 19 is a toy on a stick, but it's a very well done toy on a stick - there's something really appealing about it. The hammer and barrel are symbolic of the Prohibition practice of government agents and local police destroying barrels of beer when the law was enacted.

The Batch 19 recipe was found  found in an old logbook discovered in the Coors brewery archives dating back before 1919, when Prohibition banned beer throughout the country. Prohibition was enforced in Colorado in 1916. When the brewers in the brewery in Golden made up a sample, they found the old-time Coors lager sprightly, slightly hoppy and easy drinking, despite the fact that they could not brew an exact batch due to the differences in modern ingredients and brewing techniques. It was originally test-marketed last year at the brewery and in Chicago, San Francisco/San Jose, Washington and Milwaukee, and is set to go nationwide soon.

Batch 19 is a premium lager with a deep gold color, and features a rare combination of hops, including Hersbrucker and Strisslespalt, which gives the beer notes of herbs and black currant. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.8 out of 5.

Batch 19 Official Webpage

For more about Coors, see this post.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tap Handle #251: Killian's - Irish Red

Like the Skagit River tap I listed in a previous post, this is not a figural tap. And also like the Skagit River tap, the Killian's was a gift...this one was from a friend. It's a beautiful ceramic piece that looks great in the collection. The base displays an image of the front of the old Millpark brewery, founded by George Henry Lett.

For more about Killian's, see this post.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tap Handle #250: Gritty's - Vacationland Summer Ale

This tap is very much a "toy on a stick". But since it was part of a group purchase and inexpensive, I decided to hang on to it. The car and travel trailer are kind of cute...

Gritty McDuff's, frequently called Gritty's for short, was founded as a brewpub in Portland, Maine in 1988 by Ed Stebbins and Richard Pfeffer. The two men wanted to create a true, English-style pub serving fresh ales and great food, and to have fun doing it. The brewpub was designed and manufactured in 1988 by Peter Austin & Partners in Ringwood, Hampshire, England, and was built in a part of town known as Old Port. All subsequent renovations and expansions remained true to the original, classic style of the English pub brewery. The pub produces the five classic ales (Sebago Light, Portland Headlight Pale Ale, McDuff's Best Bitter, Red Claws Ale Ale, Black Fly Stout) and many seasonal ales depending on the time of year. From its inception, production has grown at a rate of 30% per year. They used only the finest hops, English barley malt, and a special English ale yeast and water to produce hand-crafted ales that quickly become popular with the locals.

In 1995, a second location with a larger microbrewery facility was opened in Freeport. That facility uses custom-designed and fabricated fourteen-barrel system based on traditional English models. A third brewpub was opened in Auburn in 2005 and was modeled after the original Portland brewery: a classic Peter Austin style pub brewery handcrafted by local artisans in Maine. Their five flagship ales are brewed there, along with seasonal brews and the occasional small batch, pub-exclusive brews.

Vacationland is a summer seasonal Extra Special Golden Ale that's light in color but full-bodied, with a snappy hop finish. A bit of extra time in the conditioning tank rounds out and mellows the ale. They use generous portions of pale malt with just a touch of wheat malt to give it a unique flavor that's richer than most summer brews. Cascade leaf hops add a delicate and forward hop character as well. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.81 out of 5.

Gritty's Official Website