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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Monday, August 26, 2013

Tap Handle #313: Flyers - Pacemaker Porter

Amazingly I obtained this aviation tap right after the Flying Bison tap featured in the previous post. Like the Flying Bison, this tap is very rare - I haven't seen another.

Flyers Restaurant and Brewery was founded in Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island, Washington, in 2005 by Tony Savoy, Jason Tritt, and his parents Rosa and Greg Tritt. Savoy had over 10 years of brewery experience, with five years at the Snipes Mountain Brewing Co. in Sunnyside, Wash., where he garnered brewing awards. For Flyers, he created 2 varieties that were initially contract brewed through Druid's Brewing. In 2008 Flyers moved into their own building, and opened after 7 months of renovations. They delay allowed them to install the brewery, which was originally scheduled to be added a year after the restaurant opened. Three varieties of beer debuted for the opening, and Flyers currently brews 6 year-round varieties, with 4 seasonals and 2 new brews coming soon. They also did some contract brewing with Skagit River ( I don't know if this is still the case). The brewery is aviation-themed due to the nearby Whidbey Naval Air Station.

Pacemaker Porter is a dark, full bodied porter that has notes of roasted barley, coffee and bitter sweet chocolate, that was one of the debut beers and has become Flyers' flagship beer. Weighted average on is 3.45 out of 5.

Flyers Restaurant and Brewery Official Website

Tap Handle #312: Flying Bison - Aviator Red

This tap is very rare - I haven't ever seen another - and it's aviation-related, so I really wanted it. It's very sturdy and made of metal.

Flying Bison Brewery was founded in Buffalo, New York, in 1995 but didn't open for business until 2000, due to red tape and various calamities that included the loss of original partner, Lawrence "Red" Mrozek, to a motorcycle accident in 1998. The brewery continued on with majority partners, Phil Internicola and Tim Herzog, along with 25 individual investors, and began operations as a 20-barrel facility.  It was the first stand-alone brewery to operate in Buffalo since the Iroquois Brewing Company closed in 1972. Flying Bison draws its name in part from Buffalo's rich history of aviation manufacturing.

Herzog was a home brewer that studied at the Siebel Institute of Brewing and at the American Brewers Guild.  He also completed internships at Kelmer’s Brewhouse in Santa Rosa, California; the Oregon Trail Brewery in Corvallis, Oregon; and the Niagara Falls Brewery in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  Herzog’s work in beer evaluation earned him recognition as a Certified Beer Judge, and he also founded the New York State Craft Brewer Association. Flying Bison’s two flagship products were designed and developed by Herzog, who employed his many years of home brewing experience and a one hectoliter system salvaged from the cast-offs of a brew-on-premises shop. Herzog experimented with ingredients, techniques, and yeast strains until the results were both satisfactory to his very demanding palate and consistently repeatable. Internicola was an award-winning home brewer himself, who built his own fifteen gallon re-circulating infusion mash system and used it extensively to develop recipes that became some of Flying Bison's seasonal beer offerings.

In early 2004, Flying Bison installed a full bottling line and upgraded its production capacity by adding a 40 barrel fermenter. The brewery since expanded by more than 200%, adding 4 more 40 barrel fermenters. However, it attributed severe financial difficulty to a rise in the cost of ingredients, which caused a brief halt in production in 2010. A sale of the brewery to F. X. Matt Brewing Co., the Utica, New York-based makers of Saranac beer rescued the brewery. The terms of the sale stated that Matt was a parent company and that production would continue in Buffalo.

Aviator Red is an Irish red ale that is full bodied and brewed from the finest ingredients. A blend of six of the highest quality malts to give Aviator its rich malt flavor and signature ruby red color. It's named after former partner Red Mrozek (mentioned above). Recommended food pairings are barbecue, roast pork, and anything spicy. Weighted average on is 3.09 out of 5.

Flying Bison Official Website

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tap Handle #311: Sierra Blanca - Alien Amber Ale Alien Head

This is a pretty rare tap, far more rare than the alien in the spaceship. There's some really nice detail on this tap, especially all the markings on its head, including some that resemble wheat stalks.

For more about Sierra Blanca and Alien Amber Ale, see this post.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tap Handle #310: Pabst - Pink Elephants Come Home

I love this tap, which was a gift from Kelly's mom and dad, Diane and Barney. It's not exactly rare, but it is highly sought after and as a result is very expensive. This is the first Pabst tap in my was inspired by a contest winner on the website for art called "Pink Elephants Come Home" (as seen to the right).

Pabst was first introduced in 1844 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin under the name Best Select. It was named for the founder of the brewery, Jacob Best, who had since retired and left the running of the company to his sons. Best’s son-in-law, a former steamship captain named Johann Gottlieb Friedrich Pabst, also owned a share of the business, and he eventually became its president and changed the name to the Pabst Brewing Company. Best Select had won numerous awards at beer competitions at home and abroad. A shrewd marketer, Pabst had blue silk ribbon tied around the neck of each bottle, to identify it as the winner it was, starting in 1882. Within a decade, the brewery was going through one million feet of ribbon a year.

For all the awards, Best Select had never won a literal blue ribbon up to that point. The first, according to the company, came at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Instead of competing directly against each other, the exhibitors in different categories were judged against a list of criteria that represented a standard of excellence for that category. Every entrant who met the standard would leave Chicago with a commemorative bronze medal and a parchment certificate. Leading Pabst by two points near the end of judging, Anheuser-Busch began celebrating early, ordering an award placard for their exhibit and taking out ads in the local papers announcing they had won the nonexistent grand prize and were the “King of Brewers.” After the final category had been scored, the judges’ table devolved into deadlock and in-fighting, and a special supervisory committee had to be formed to sort things out. In the end, Pabst ended up ahead of Busch by just a fraction of a point. Pabst quickly announced himself as the “grand prize winner,” even though his medal and certificate were exactly the same as those won by other brewers. To celebrate, he had the entire brewery in Milwaukee draped in blue ribbon and gave all his workers a day off. The attention and sales that followed inspired the company to change Best Select to Pabst Blue Ribbon. Despite what seems to be a gross misunderstanding of the prize system by both the judges and the contestants, Pabst continues to boast that their beer was picked as “America’s Best in 1893” on each and every can of PBR.

In 1904, Frederick Pabst passed away, leaving his brewing company in the hands of his sons, Frederick Jr. and Gustav. During World War I, a silk shortage put an end to the practice of hand-tying blue silk ribbon around each bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Not long after that, the implementation of Prohibition forced the brewery into making cheese, soda, and malt extract. After Prohibition, Pabst resumed brewing beer and sold their successful cheese business to Kraft. After World War II, Pabst purchased Hoffman Beverage to expand into the northeast, and propelling them into the top five brewers. They continued to grow during the 1960s and 1970s, acquiring more breweries like Blitz-Weinhard.

Like Heileman, Pabst became the target of a corporate raider, and spent millions fighting a hostile takeover. Needing to raise new capital, Pabst acquired Olympia in 1983, but was itself sold to a new owner, who was buying up low market share breweries. He closed the flagship brewery in Milwaukee, moving its headquarters to San Antonio, and cut all advertising. Sales slumped, and Pabst, desperate for a boost, acquired several brands during the Stroh breakup in 1999, such as Heileman and Schlitz. In 2002, on its last legs with faltering production, Pabst experienced a resurgence thanks to hipsters that saw acquiring the scarce beer as a challenge. Portland, Oregon, seemed to be the epicenter of the rediscovery of PBR, though it soon spread to other cities, with trendy bars adding it to their menu. Instead of mass marketing, Pabst quietly sponsors indy music and hosts user art on their website. The beer is no longer brewed by Pabst, however; instead, it is contract brewed through Miller. The long-time owner sold it in 2010 and headquarters were moved once again, this time to Chicago. A year later, PBR was spoofed on South Park, leading to another surge in popularity.

Pabst Blue Ribbon is a pale lager crafted with a hefty infusion of 6-row barley, a carefully balanced carbohydrate profile from corn syrup, and a unique combination of Pacific domestic hops blended with an imported Yugoslavian variety. Fermented with a pure culture of yeast and aged at high gravity, PBR is cellared and finished to the smooth, robust likeness of a fine Pilsner. It has won several gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and another at the World Beer Cup. Weighted average on is 1.79 out of 5.

Pabst Official Website

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tap Handle #309: Cheboygan - La Cerveca Lighthouse

As you know, I like lighthouses, so I had to have this tap. This is a pretty rare one. Each variety has a different colored top...for instance, the Lighthouse Amber has a red top. The tap is modeled after the Cheboygan Lighthouse (pictured to the right).

Cheboygan Brewing was founded in Cheboygan, Michigan in 2011 by Mark Lorenz, Jamie McClurg, and Joe Kwiatkowski. McClurg was a retired Proctor and Gamble executive who had owning a small business on his bucket list. He felt that the microbrewing business was doing well and talked to his friend Lorenz. The area had a rich brewing history; in fact, the brewery shares its name with a former brewery (although there is no true connection between the two).

The original Cheboygan Brewery was founded as Northern Brewing Company in 1882 by James and Patrick Moloney. The name was changed to the Cheboygan Brewing and Malting Company in 1890 when James bought out his brother. Patrick went on to start a bottling company, with James as his biggest customer. But James received a generous offer and sold the brewery in 1905.  The new owners expanded the business tremendously, producing a variety of beers including lagers, ales and porters. The company maintained an aggressive advertising campaign in local newspapers and other periodicals. In a 1908 tongue-in-cheek challenge to the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company’s promotional slogan “The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous,” the Cheboygan brewery marketed their product as “The Beer that Made Milwaukee Jealous.” In 1911, after 29 years of beer production, the Cheboygan Brewing and Malting Company shut down as a result of a declining local economy, the impact of local prohibition laws, and competition from larger breweries. By 1915, all of the brewery buildings were torn down except for the bottling plant, which still stands today.

100 years after the closing of the original brewery, the new brewery sits a short distance away, and has embraced this local brewing heritage, striving to make it a cornerstone of the atmosphere at Cheboygan Brewing Company. Historical signage, as well as displays highlighting the contributions of the Hentshels, the Moloneys and others, lines the taproom walls. One display offers interactive features, allowing customers to view historic timelines and artifacts. Working with the Cheboygan Historical Society, the brewery plans to display antiques, including a wooden barrel and a branding iron. Archival labeling and advertisements are also part of the marketing and branding strategy. McClurg was most impressed with the business model of the Alaskan Brewing Company, which he visited on a trip to Juneau. Cheboygan's first offering and signature beer is Lighthouse Amber, a German style Alt; they now brew 5 different varieties.

La Cerveca is the brewery's newest beer, a pilsner brewed in the Mexican-Bohemian tradition using five different styles of malted barley with flaked maize and blended with noble German hops, to impart a dry crisp character. Weighted average on is 2.81 out of 5.

Cheboygan Brewing Official Website

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tap Handle #308: Miller - MGD Pool Cue and Rack

This is a great tap that I think I might like even more than the Michelob pool cue. Like the Michelob, I believe this was made exclusively for billiard halls. There's another similar version for MGD Light that features a yellow pool ball on top the cue instead. The rack is covered with plastic that allows you to see through it to the small pool balls inside. Very cool!

For more about MGD, see this post.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tap Handle #307: Jungle Brewing - Jaguar Jungle Brew

I really liked this tap but I was hesitant to buy it, since I wasn't sure it was real. After a little more research I bought it, and I haven't seen another since. A very rare and very cool tap, and in great condition - thanks to legal issues (see below), this tap never even made it into bar and is brand new.

What information I have on Jungle Brewing seems extremely confusing. According to some reports, River City Brewing in Jacksonville, Florida was unable to sell their Jag Lite beer at Jacksonville Jaguars football games, due to a Florida law that states brewpubs cannot own breweries and vice versa. Supposedly, River City turned to the Williamsville Brewery in Fernandina Beach to have their beers brewed under contract. The Williamsville Brewery in Richmond, Virginia owned the Fernandina Beach location, as well as the Main Street Beer Company and Wilmington Brewing in Farmville, North Carolina (which they acquired in 2000). Williamsville filed a trademark for the Jungle Brewing Company, but something went wrong (exactly what isn't clear). Jaguar Jungle Brew was only produced for a short time by Wilmington Brewing before legal issues shut the Jungle Brewing operation down. Eventually Williamsville and all of its breweries closed. Interestingly enough, there must have been a change to the laws in Florida, as River City is now able to brew their Jag Lite themselves. Then again, some of the information here may not have been accurate to begin with.

There is no entry for Jungle Brew on Beer Advocate describes it as a Dortmunder/Export Lager but has no ratings.

Since Jungle Brewing, Williamsville Brewing, and Wilmington Brewing are all defunct, there is no website for this brand.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tap Handle #306: Blue Moon (MillerCoors) - Belgian White Copper Kettle

This is a very rare figural tap from Blue Moon. Most Blue Moon taps look like the one to the right - nice, but kind of plain. I don't know why this figural tap was created (and why its numbers are so limited). There is another figural tap featuring a big round blue moon on top of a post of wheat stalks.

Blue Moon Brewing was founded in Golden, Colorado in 1995. It is a part of the Tenth and Blake Beer Company, the craft and import division of MillerCoors. The Blue Moon recipe was created by Keith Villa, a brewer at Coors Field's Sandlot Brewery. After earning his Ph.D. in brewing from the University of Brussels in Belgium, an honor only a handful of brewers have achieved, Keith came back stateside with the idea of crafting beers inspired by Belgian styles, but with a twist. His first interpretation turned out to be Bellyslide Belgian White (later renamed Blue Moon Belgian White) and the start of the Blue Moon Brewing Company.

From 1995 to 2005, Villa went bar to bar, store to store, dropping off bags of oranges to garnish the beers. He started getting calls from the bar owners who ran out of oranges. They told him how people loved the beer garnished with an orange slice. The only catch was, bars didn’t stock oranges as a drink garnish, so they wanted Villa to deliver more bags of oranges. Blue Moon's first seasonal beer, Pumpkin Ale, was brewed in the fall of 1995. It was crafted with harvest spices and pumpkin to capture the taste of the season. Still brewed today (currently known as Harvest Pumpkin Ale), it was the first pumpkin beer to be nationally distributed. The currently produce several season and specialty varieties.

Sometimes called the most controversial beer in American, Blue Moon gets this label from that fact that although it appears to be a craft beer, it is actually owned and brewed by Molson Coors, one of the biggest beer companies in the world. Because of this there are many in the craft beer community who are apprehensive about the beer’s popularity. They see it as an attempt by corporate America to infiltrate the craft beer scene under false pretenses and steal the profits from small, independently owned breweries. The Molson Coors name does not appear anywhere on the label, and much of production now comes from the Molson brewery in Toronto, with a small portion from the SandLot brewery in Golden.

The Brewers Association published a list of companies, including MillerCoors, that didn’t fit its definition of a “craft brewer.” The association knocked them for excluding parent companies from their labels. Craft brewers are “small, independent, and traditional,” according to the group, meaning the brewery produces fewer than 6 million barrels a year. They also must be less than 25 percent-owned by a megabrewer and rely on malted barley and not what brewers consider filler ingredients, like corn and rice.

But Blue Moon also has its proponents. The popularity of the beer has been growing rapidly in the last few years, meaning that the bottom line is that consumers like the taste. And Blue Moon is considered by some to be a "gateway" beer, where traditional lager and light lager drinkers try Blue Moon, then move on to try other types of beers such as a hefeweisen or lambic.

Blue Moon is an unfiltered Belgian white (witbier) brewed with oats for creaminess and spiced with the perfect combination of orange peel and coriander, and is garnished with an orange slice. It has won numerous medals at beer competitions. Recommended food pairings are grilled shrimp, Asian dishes like pad thai, and marinated chicken dishes. Weighted average on is 2.99 out of 5.

Blue Moon Official Website

Friday, August 9, 2013

Tap Handle #305: Big Wood - Morning Wood Coffee Stout

I bought a group of tap handles just to get my hands on this one. I think the "Morning Wood" name is hilarious. It's a really great tap with a cool name!

Big Wood Brewing was founded in 2009 in Vadnais Heights, MN, by Steve Merila. Merila started brewing in an unused warehouse space. It was such a hit among clients and industry colleagues that he soon quit the wood flooring business he worked at, and enlisted advertising professional Jason Medvec as a business partner. They spent time developing recipes and entering beer festivals and competitions, brewing in the building that had housed Merila's former flooring employer. In 2012 they hired a professional brewer and rolled out their flagship beer, Morning Wood, for local distribution by having it contract brewed through the Cold Spring Brewery. Five varieties of beer are currently brewed for Big Wood by Cold Spring (though not all are year-round). Big Wood's plan was to do their own brewing in a new brewery and taproom in White Bear Lake in the spring, but it is still under construction.

Morning Wood is a dry stout that is dark in color, light bodied, and has a creamy roasted character with a blast of coffee flavor. It is brewed with Fuggle and Cascade hops and adds hints of oatmeal and chocolate. Morning Wood uses only fresh roasted Dunn Brothers Coffee Beans. Weighted average on is 3.21 out of 5.

Big Wood Official Website

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tap Handle #304: Lion Nathan - Steinlager

This is a nice tap that I couldn't pass up for the price. It is similar to another tap by Dock Street, which also features a knotted rope.

Steinlager was founded in Aukland, New Zealand in 1957 by the Lion Nathan Brewery. The New Zealand Minister of Finance, Arnold Nordmeyer, threatened to cut international beer imports as part of his "black budget" and challenged New Zealand's brewers to "come up with an international-style lager beer". Lion Nathan produced a beer the following year named Steinecker, named after the company whose equipment the beer was made in. In 1962, Heineken took the brewers to court, insisting that "Steineker" was too similar to "Heineken". So Lion Breweries changed the name to "Steinlager" and the name has stuck.

In 1977 Steinlager won the Les Amis du Bin Award, the most prestigious beer award in the world. Steinlager followed it up by winning again in 1978 and to really prove it wasn't a fluke, again in 1979 and 1980. The establishment didn't like the fact that this upstart from the bottom of the world had taken out a mortgage on their cup and promptly sent a letter asking that Steinlager didn't enter again. By then Steinlager had won the title of 'The best beer in the world' - so the point was made. In 1985, eight hundred beers competed for the Championship Trophy in the Brewing industry awards held at Burton-on-Trent, England, but Steinlager tops them all, and goes on to win several other competitions. Over the years they sponsered New Zealand rugby teams and also New Zealand's America's Cup team.

Steinlager Classic is the flagship brand, a pale ale with a distinctive grassy note and clean crisp bitterness of green bullet hops. It is balanced with a dry, astringent finish. Weighted average on is 2.33 out of 5.

Steinlager Official Website

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tap Handle #303: Mactarnahan's - Amber Ale Scottish Warrior

This is an awesome tap that was on my wishlist for some time until I picked it up from a local seller. He told me that very few of these were made and that he had bought the last 8 or so that the brewery had. He sold them over the years; this was his last one. Portland Brewery also produced the same taps for beer that they brewed for the Tilted Kilt pub chain, and the taps are identical except for the label. Some people refer to the tap as "Braveheart".

For more about MacTarnahan's and their Amber Ale, see this post.