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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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tap Handle #290: Hussong's - Dark

Like the Big Rock Magpie tap I just posted about, this Hussong's Dark tap featuring a parrot is very rare, I've seen maybe two of them besides mine. This is a gorgeously detailed tap, from the coloring of the parrot to its real-looking glass eye.

Hussong's was founded in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, in 1892 by John Hussong. Hussong was born in Germany in 1863 as Johann. When he was 23, he emigrated to New York, where he changed his name to John. After ten years and tiring of the big city, he headed west to California. In 1889 the discovery of gold south of the border lured him to Ensenada. John hunted quail, geese and other wild fowl which he sold to local restaurants. In 1890 he bought a barbershop and began running a carriage with six horses between Ensenada and the gold rush camp, El Alamo, about 60 miles to the southeast on a very bad road. In 1891, John’s carriage flipped over, and his companion, Newt House, fractured his leg. John brought Newt to recuperate at Meiggs’ Bar, Ensenada’s only watering hole. Two days after John and Newt arrived at the bar, Meiggs attacked his wife with an axe. When Meiggs was sent to jail, his wife fled to California. When Meiggs got out of jail, he went in search of his wife, and asked John to mind the bar until he returned. Neither Meiggs nor his wife were ever heard of again.

The cantina was originally located where Papas & Beer is now. After operating the bar for nearly a year, the next door neighbors complained constantly about the noise, so John - who had changed his name again, this time to Juan - purchased and remodeled the building across the street, which was formerly a Southern Lane stage coach stop. Hussong's became the oldest and best known cantina in all of Mexico, and is reputedly the place where the Margarita was created in 1941 by bartender Don Carlos Orozco. He concocted a mixture of equal parts tequila, Damiana (Cointreau is used now) and lime, served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass for Margarita Henkel, daughter of the German Ambassador to Mexico. A competing story suggested the drink was named after Rita Hayworth (whose given name was Margarita Carmen Cansino) when she visited the cantina, as many big Hollywood stars have done over the years (such as Bing Crosby, Marilyn Monroe, James Gardner, Ronald Reagan, Steve McQueen, John Wayne, and Humphrey Bogart), but this alternate story is unlikely to be true.

When Juan Hussong passed away, the cantina went to his five children, of whom the oldest son, Richard, bought out the others. When Richard died in 1961, the cantina passed to his wife, two daughters, and son Ricardo. Ricardo assumed full control in 1981. Looking to expand the brand, Ricardo licensed a second Hussongs Cantina at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2009.

Hussong's Dark was brewed for Hussong's by Anheuser-Busch in Lake Elsinore, California according to the special Hussong recipe, but it has been retired for several years. It was likely on tap in the Las Vegas cantina. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.5 out of 5.

Hussong's Official English Website

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tap Handle #289: Big Rock - Magpie Rye Ale

alternate version
This is a real beauty of a tap. It's a little on the small side (about 7-8"), but it's impressive in spite of that. It's very, very rare - I don't recall ever seeing another. There is a second version of the tap (pictured to the right) that is just as rare.

Big Rock Magpie Rye was a full-bodied ale with a rich copper colour and a spicy-bouquet, recommended for the wine enthusiast. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.8 out of 5. Although ratebeer.com does not show the brew as retired, it is not listed on Big Rock's website as part of their lineup, and it also isn't on their 2013 brewing schedule.

For more about Big Rock, see this post.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tap Handle #288: MillerCoors - Red Dog

Here we have the iconic Red Dog bulldog. I've wanted this tap for some time, as Kelly has a really great display that matches it. The head is made of a hard plastic rather than wood or resin. They aren't rare, but they are not prolific, either.

Red Dog was first introduced by Miller in 1994 as part of their Plank Road Brewery Family. The Plank Road name was resurrected in the 1990s to sell Icehouse and Red Dog as a more premium beer under a different name, so as not to directly associate them with Miller Brewing. Although popular during the mid-to-late 1990s, Red Dog faded into near-obscurity after the turn of the 21st century. However, since 2005 it has been making a comeback.

Brewed with two barley malts and five varieties of American hops, Red Dog is a bold, yet uncommonly smooth beer. Golden in color, Red Dog is a full-flavored lager with medium body and crisp, refreshing finish. It won a gold medal at the 2002 Great American Beer Festival. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 1.46 out of 5 - barely enough to keep it out of ratebeer.com's 50 worst beers in the world list.

Red Dog has its own Facebook page, but does not have its own website; instead it has a brief mention on the MillerCoors website. For more about Miller Brewing, see this post.

Tap Handle #287: Shipyard - Summer Ale

I like this tap. It's got some really nice little touches - the lobster is sitting in a deck chair - or is it a lifeguard's chair? It's got sunglasses on, and its little legs are holding a beach towel that says "Shipyard". Very whimsical.

Shipyard Summer Ale is a traditional America wheat beer that is less assertive than its Bavarian counterparts, and is available as a summer seasonal. An inviting golden color, mellow malted wheat flavor and less hoppy characteristics are sure to please those looking a clean, cool taste sensation on long, hot summer days. It was first brewed in 1995. Recommended food pairing is seafood (hence the lobster). Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.75 out of 5.

For more about Shipyard, see this post.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tap Handle #286: Planet Orca - Killer Ale

There are two versions of this tap, and this one is the older style. I was lucky enough to make contact with Doug Bison, one of the owners of Planet Orca, who filled me in on much of the information I was missing regarding this tap, as well as the brewery. As an artist and sculptor, Bison created the original “Spy Hopping” Orca as a model for the tap.  The handles were manufactured by a tap maker in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington. It is a great tap, really beautiful and detailed.

Planet Orca was founded by Doug Bison and Ken Jacobson in the 1990s in Friday Harbor, Washington on San Juan Island ("the orca capital of the world"). The primary mission of Planet Orca was to advance the public's awareness of orca issues in their natural habitat through education, research, publicity and promotion, while involving government, industry, universities, tribes, environmental organizations and the public. Planet Orca served as a for-profit marketing, merchandising and fundraising partnership for the non-profit Team Orca organization, whose members contributed through resources, education and/or participation in orca projects planet wide. Their motto was: "Planet Orca: where man teams with nature and both thrive."

Planet Orca produced dozens of items from clothing, hats, apparel and merchandise to toys and orca awareness material that was distributed nationwide. Killer Ale was one of their products, and it was produced and distributed throughout the Northwest by the Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Company. Eventually Planet Orca ceased brewing Killer Ale. Bison still owns the Killer Ale brand name for beer production in the U.S., and is interested in getting back into production someday, possibly through contract brewing.

There is no entry for Killer Ale or Planet Orca on ratebeer.com.

There is no website link for this tap.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tap Handle #285: Pyramid - Weiss Creme

It's hard to believe I've listed 285 taps and this is the first Pyramid tap I have acquired. I haven't really liked Pyramid taps very much, but this is a beauty. It looks like a real ice cream cone - the detail is superb. Simply an awesome tap!

Click through to read more about Pyramid Brewing and their Weiss Creme...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tap Handle #284: New Orleans Lager and Ale (NOLA) - Mechahopzilla

Tap size:  11.5"
Rarity:  Rare
Mounting:  metallic green 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt


Upon its release, this tap shot to the top of my wishlist, and I was thrilled to acquire it.  The great detail - from the recognizable New Orleans buildings (including the Superdome) to the hop juice running down the monster's chin to the brilliant green metallic ferrule - this is probably one of the best taps ever conceived. It won a best tap of the year award at one of the big brew festivals. To the right you'll find the conceptual artwork for it, and there's some pretty awesome designs there. Due to copyright issues filed by the owners of Mechagodzilla, the tap is no longer produced, so they continue to show up on the market since the brewery cannot use them. The end result is that it went from being very rare to just rare. However, demand helps keep prices high.


Click through to read more about NOLA's Mechahopzilla and to see more photos of this epic tap...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tap Handle #283: Yellow House Canyon - "Hoppy"

The prairie dog's name is "Hoppy" and he is the mascot of the brewery. There's no label for this tap, since the brewery is not currently in production.

Yellow Canyon House Brewery was founded in Lubbock, Texas in 2009 by Bill and Cindy Hardy and their son Tim. Bill had been brewing beer in his garage since 2000. Bill and Tim attended the World Brewing Academy Master Brewer program which included 8 weeks in Chicago at the Siebel Institute and 12 weeks in Munich, Germany at Doemens Academy. The brewery experienced a setback when the fire marshal stated that the nearest fire hydrant was not close enough for fire trucks if they ever needed to use the hydrant. In addition, certain types of hops have been hard to come by. As a result, the brewery is not yet in production; in the meantime they are running an online home brewing supply store. Yellow House Canyon plans on having 4 varieties in their initial lineup.

No ratings on ratebeer.com since the brewery is not yet in production.

Yellow House Canyon Official Website




Saturday, June 15, 2013

Tap Handle #282: Napa Smith - Lost Dog Red Ale

This tap arrived as part of a group purchase. It's not really figural and I probably wouldn't have normally purchased it, but the price was great and Kelly really liked it, so I kept it. The wrought-iron base is beautiful and pretty unique. The differences between the varieties are on the label only.

Napa Smith Brewery was founded in Napa Valley, California in 2008 by the Smith family. They started making both wine and beer in an old Hakasan Saki factory. They could have just produced wine, but realized that although wine could be paired with foods, in some cases beer made a better pairing. They set out to brew beers that would not only go with a variety of foods, but also could be used in cooking, while living up to the standards of having "Napa" in the name.

To help them in their endeavour they hired Don Barkley. Barkley was America's first craft brewer, having started making craft beer in 1978 at New Albion Brewery, America’s first new brewery since Prohibition. He gave up his job in Silicon Valley and enrolled in the brewing program at UC Davis. After five years brewing at New Albion Brewery, he went on to help found the Mendocino Brewing, creating such legendary beers as Red Tail Ale and Eye of the Hawk. It wasn't hard to convince Barkley to join Napa Smith Brewery - his great-great-grandfather settled in the Napa Valley in the 1850’s as one of the very first hop farmers.

At launch, Napa Smith brewed 3 beers, but as the beer side of the business has grown, they began to introduce more beers, built a brewpub in 2011 and a tasting room in 2012. They currently feature 12 varieties on tap in their brewpub. They are licensed to distribute in 22 states, have a significant presence in Walt Disney World, and Sweden is their second-biggest market outside California. Napa Smith is currently owned and operated by Paddington Brands, LLC.

Lost Dog is a red ale in Napa Smith's signature series. It is rich and robust, with a hoppy finish that practically rolls over and begs for another taste, and a warm red hue and a dense off-white head. It also won a gold medal in the 2010 California State Fair. Recommended food pairings are steaks, burgers, and garlic fries, and on their website they've provided a Lost Dog Lamb Chop recipe. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.06 out of 5.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tap Handle #281: Coronado - Orange Avenue Wit

I've always liked the Coronado mermaid taps. From photos I saw, I thought she was a little homely - my photo shows this too. I think it has to do with the angle that the picture is taken at, because in person I was surprised to see that she's quite attractive. I've seen 2 other versions, a blond (Blonde) and a redhead (Mermaid's Red). These mermaid taps predate the Coronado Hotel tap. Don't be fooled by a generic knock-off that's floating around - the real mermaid tap has the label at the base and the variety of the beer is also printed on the wooden pier. As you can see, the label doesn't match the name on the pier on my tap, but that's okay - they didn't make a mermaid tap for every variety, so they had to sticker some of them differently. I'm going to profile the original Orange Avenue variety on the pier instead of the Pale Ale on the label. Simply a beautiful tap!

Orange Avenue is a California style Belgian white. It is brewed with wheat, coriander, California orange peel and local orange blossom honey, and has subtle flavors of bread, spice, citrus and a thirst quenching orange honey finish. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.03 out of 5.

For more about Coronado, see this post.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tap Handle #280: New Orleans Lager and Ale (NOLA) - Smoky Mary

This tap is much different than my other train tap, Devil Mountain, and I really like it. It is double-sided so you can display it from either side. A very nice tap.

New Orleans Lager and Ale was founded in New Orleans, Louisiana by Kirk Coco. Coco was a native New Orleanian who earned his BA and Juris Doctorate from Louisiana State University, his MBA from the University of New Orleans and served 11 years as a Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy. After watching the effects of Katrina while on deployment in the Arabian Gulf, he decided to come home to help rebuild and develop commerce in post-Katrina New Orleans. Once the cradle of brewing in the Deep South, New Orleans boasted world famous beers such as Falstaff, Regal, Union, Dixie, Jax, New Orleans Brewing and XXXX (Four X). Following the closure of the Dixie Brewing Company facility after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, no commercial brewery operated in New Orleans, so Coco decided to start a brewery. The only problem was, he didn't know how to make beer.

He hired Peter Caddoo, who had worked at Dixie for almost two decades. Caddoo nearly went to work for Gordon Biersch, but Coco lured him away by selling him on the ability for Caddoo to make and drink his own beers instead of someone else's. They leased a converted old warehouse and filled it with secondhand equipment and free furniture. Local volunteers helped with labor. In 2009 NOLA released its first two beers, a blonde ale and a brown ale. They currently feature 4 beers in their year-round lineup, with other seasonal offerings on tap. NOLA now distributes across the Southeastern states.

Smoky Mary is a German Rauchbier (Smoke beer) and is NOLA’s fall seasonal ale. It is named for the steam engine that ran on the second oldest railroad in the United States. Instead of using Beechwood, NOLA uses pecan wood and a smoked Munich malt. Recommended food pairings are barbecue and grilled foods. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.04 out of 5.

New Orleans Lager and Ale Official Website

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tap Handle #279: Anheuser-Busch - Shock Top End of the World Midnight Wheat

If you've been following the blog, you know that Heff tipped me off about this tap. I love the flames all over the tap...this is probably my favorite version of Shock Top. As an added bonus, the world didn't end!

End of the World Midnight Wheat is an ale brewed with Midnight Wheat, chocolate malt and spice. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.78 out of 5.

This brew had its own website last year that featured a countdown to the end of the world based on the whole Mayan calendar thing, but that site is now gone and this variety is not listed on the Shock Top website. For more about Shock Top, see this post.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tap Handle #278: Horny Goat - Hopped Up N' Horny pale ale

We're on a roll here with yet another toy on a stick. I really love this tap, though. More humor from the people that brought us naked goats wearing barrels is a good thing.

Hopped Up N' Horny is an IPA brewed with malted Two-Row American malted barley and an inclusion of roasted caramel. It's craft brewed using generous amounts of American Cascade Hops; both in a brew kettle and a dry hop in an aging tank. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.65 out of 5.

For more about Horny Goat, see this post.

Tap Handle #277: Shipyard - Applehead Ale

Another tap, another toy on a stick. But hey, it's Shipyard! Watch out because they chip pretty easily and the ones I've seen lately have some damage.

Shipyard Applehead is a crisp, refreshing wheat ale with a delightful apple aroma and subtle cinnamon flavor that was first brewed in 2002. Recommended food pairings are pork chops, sausage, squash, and apple pie. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.87 out of 5.

For more about Shipyard, see this post.

Tap Handle #276 - Wyder's - Dry Pear Cider

This tap is very much a toy on a stick. Normally I wouldn't have gone for it but it was part of a group purchase and fairly inexpensive, so I kept it. I've tasted the apple variety but I'd really like to try pear and raspberry (both are available here in Washington State).

I couldn't find much information on Wyder's. It was founded 1987 by cider master Ian Wyder who learned his craft in England at one of the UK's premier ciderys. Wyder's Cider was first sold in Vancouver, Canada and was later introduced into the US market in Washington and Oregon. Northern California's Bay Area got a taste in 1993 and Wyder's Cider is now widely available throughout the Western US. It is brewed for Wyder's by Vermont Hard Cider Company.

Wyder's Dry Pear is a light, crisp cider with a tangy aroma that offering a distinct pear taste, ending with a lively mouth feel that tickles the tongue. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.56 out of 5.

Wyder's Official Website