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

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...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tap Handle #325: Lead Feather - Hodag Premium Honey Wheat Ale

I've got a Chupacabra tap, a Loch Ness Monster tap, and a couple of Bigfoot footprint taps, so it's only natural for me to pursue another cryptid tap - in this case, the Hodag. I absolutely love this tap! The Hodag is a mythical creature centered around the city of Rhinelander in northern Wisconsin. In 1896 a Hodag was "captured" and displayed at the Oneida County Fair, but was exposed to be a hoax. Still, the legend stuck, and the Hodag became the mascot of the local high school. This tap is extremely rare, since Lead Feather was not in business long...I have never seen another.

Lead Feather was founded in Janesville, Wisconsin in 2009 by three business partners. It was formed as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and created its first brew, Hodag Premium Honey Wheat Ale, which was contract brewed through the O'so Brewery. They struck a deal with the Wisconsin Hospitality Group to have their beer distributed exclusively to their Applebee's Restaurants. It seemed like a win-win: Lead Feather would get to increase brand awareness without having to spend on advertising, while Applebee's would increase customers through microbrew offerings.

The company tried to raise capital from private investors to support building a brewery, and establish the brand as well as sales and distribution networks. They even announced 4 more beers they would produce, all named after oxymorons: Dark Star (a brown ale), Crash Landing (a pale ale), Pretty Ugly (an India pale ale), and True Blarney (an Irish stout). But Lead Feather was unable to raise the capital, and with no advertising or marketing, combined with disappointing sales at Applebee's, the company closed in 2012.

Hodag was a honey wheat ale made with pure Wisconsin clover honey and a light wheat flavor with a slightly sweet finish. Although reviews were lukewarm, multiple reviewers commented on the awesomeness of the tap handle while it was being served at Applebee's. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.68 out of 5.

Lead Feather is out of business so there is no website to link to.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tap Handle #324: Mother Road - Lost Highway Imperial Black IPA

This is a gorgeous tap that reminds me a little bit of the Pete's Wicked tap due to the silver-colored woman figure and the art deco styling. It's very rare. The brewery refers to the tap as "Ellie", although I'm not sure why. All varieties appear the same except for the label.

Mother Road brewing was founded in Flagstaff, Arizona in 2011 by Michael and Alissa Marquess. They came up with a plan that brought together their passions of craft beer, travel, Arizona and the enjoyment of life, by creating a brewery. They leased the Milum Building, which is on an original portion of U.S. Highway 66. It was built by the Milum family in the 1920s and housed a commercial laundry, which they operated up until the late 1990s. The Mother Road was John Steinbeck’s name for U.S. Highway 66 in The Grapes of Wrath when it carried the Joad family west in the 1930s.  Their first two beers were a Kolsch-inspired Gold Road  and Twin Arrows, a brown ale. The brewery also contains a tap room and a tasting room. The company has purchased a small bottling machine and is expanding into the Phoenix and Tucson markets. They currently brew 4 year-round beers and also experiment with small, seasonal batches.

Lost Highway Imperial Black IPA is a robust imperial IPA that balances the malt characteristics with IPA bitterness and finishes with roast and coffee flavors from the Black Patent malt. This big, balanced beer drinks smoothly. It was a seasonal that was changed to a year-round brew due to customer demand. Recommended food pairings are spicy Mexican and Asian foods and rich desserts like tiramisu. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.38 out of 5.

Mother Road Brewing Offical Website

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Tap Handle #323: Cold Spring Brewery - Third Street Brewhouse Bitter Neighbor Black IPA

This is a great-looking tap...the detail is great, the sculpting is humorous, and the matte paint job is excellent.

Cold Spring Brewery was founded in 1874 in Cold Spring, Minnesota. It was named after the spring from which it and the town derived their names. It
survived Prohibition by marketing alcohol-free malt tonic beverages, and by the mid-20th century, its beer and mineral water were national staples. By the mid-1990s, after a group called Beverage International bought out the company’s longtime family owners and made an unsuccessful push to go public, the company was on the brink of extinction. It made last-ditch efforts with gimmicks like Elvira’s Night Brew, branded with TV horror-show hostess Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (pictured to the right).

Funds ran dry and all employees were laid off. But a handful of employees rounded up an investor group to keep the company afloat, in part by emphasizing the iconic Gluek’s beer brand. In 2000, John Lenore, owner of a California distributorship, acquired the business and shifted focus to nonalcoholic beverages. Lenore invested millions in cutting-edge equipment for the company’s 170,000-square-foot production facility. In 2006, the company acquired Monarch Custom Beverages.

Meanwhile, Cold Spring was contract brewing for 21st Amendment, Big Wood Brewery, and Tallgrass Brewing among others. But as the craft beer industry took off, Cold Spring began struggling to attract high-caliber customers because of its antiquated brewing equipment, which had been virtually untouched. The reputation of Cold Spring’s own low-price beers Gluek and Northern only exacerbated the problem. To overcome their bad reputation among consumers and their peers, a plan was developed for a new $14 million brewhouse.

The plan called for demolishing an administrative building near its production facility to make room for the brewhouse. Neighbors opposed the expansion due to fears about odors from a wastewater treatment facility on Cold Spring’s property getting worse. With the help of the city, the brewer convinced doubters that the project would not compound the issue. To try to turn around their reputation, the company branded its new operation the Third Street Brewhouse, and halted production of Gluek. Construction began on the new brewhouse in 2010, new brewers were hired, and 3 beers were debuted in 2012. Cold Spring also renewed some of their contract brewing business, while discontinuing their final value brand Northern. Profit margins have grown by 10% per year since the new brewhouse opened.

Bitter Neighbor is a black IPA with a rich darkness that is not excessive as is sometimes seen in other craft iterations. A medium high hop flavor and aroma befits this style. The caramel and roasted malt flavors and aromas are enhanced with a well-controlled fruitiness. Recommended food pairings are spicy foods, curries, smoked meats, blue cheese, and spiced or sweet desserts. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.35 out of 5.

Third Street Brewhouse Official Website

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tap Handle #322: Capistrano Brewing - Honey Pale Ale

When I saw this tap I had to have it. When the swallows leave Capistrano in the spring, they migrate north. I'm always happy to see them arrive and start building nests in the eaves of the shop...it means summer is right around the corner. The tap depicts a swallow on top of a piece of wood. It is in fact made of wood, and the paint job is not great - it's wrinkling and starting to flake. It's still a beautiful tap, though, and very rare - this is the only one I've ever seen, and Capistrano Brewing is (apparently) no longer in business.

There is very little information available about Capistrano Brewing. It was founded in 2004 in San Juan Capistrano, California. While their beers did win gold medals at the Los Angeles County Fair and the California State Fair Craft Brewing Competition that year, a lack of marketing held the company back and kept them relatively obscure. Some comments on rating sites suggest bottling sanitation issues were also a problem, and ratebeer.com has no entries after 2009 and shows the brewery as closed, Untappd indicates people were still drinking beer at the brewery as late as September...maybe they stopped bottling and the beer was only available on tap? At any rate, the brewery's website is gone, a good indicator that it is truly closed.

Capistrano Brewing Honey Pale Ale was an American pale ale that was described as crisp and clear, with floral bouquet and dazzling citrus flavor, well-hopped with a beautiful golden color and a robust head. Opinions were quite polarizing, and weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.46 out of 5.

The website link to Capistrano Brewing is defunct.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tap Handle #321: Samuel Adams - Grumpy Monk Belgian IPA

This is an incredible tap that I was dying to obtain for quite some time. The detail and the matte finish are outstanding and the monk's face is comical and well-conceived. It's a great tap that brings a smile to my face whenever I see it.

Grumpy Monk is a Belgian IPA designated as a limited release beer, featuring the distinctive character of Belgian yeast with its spicy clove and fruit notes, and combined with the brazen hop character of an IPA. These hops impart a citrusy, piney, and earthy flavor that’s balanced by a roasted malt sweetness for a complex and playful brew. Recommended food pairings are buffalo wings, cobb salad, shrimp cocktail, burritos, egg dishes, ham, marinara-based pasta, and sharp cheddar cheese. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.39 out of 5.

For more about Samuel Adams, see this post.