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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.

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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...

Anderson Valley Brewing was founded in 1987 in Boonville, California by David Norfleet and Kim and Ken Allen. At the time, it was one of just 20 craft breweries in the United States. The original brewery was located in the lower level of the brewpub, The Buckhorn Saloon. In its first year, the company produced approximately 600 barrels of beer. In 1996 when the demand for the award winning beers exceeded capacity, a 30-barrel facility was installed just a mile from downtown Boonville. This brewery saw them through a dramatic period of growth, which included the introduction of a 12 ounce bottling line. In 1998, a state-of-the-art, three-story Bavarian-style brewhouse was built, featuring two vintage copper brew kettles  that Allen rescued from two defunct German breweries during a trip to Europe in 1995. The brewery hosts the Boonville Beer Festival, held annually each spring and featuring dozens of breweries from around North America, multi-stage live music performances and local foods.

In 2004 the brewery sold the Buckhorn Saloon and opened its own tasting room pub on the current brewery property. It also has an 18 hole disc golf course. In 2006, the brewery installed an $860,000 photovoltaic solar array which provides near half of the company's electrical needs with a peak of 125 kilowatts of solar power. It is a five time winner of the Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP), which recognizes California businesses for their outstanding waste reduction efforts. Like many breweries, the spent grain, hops and yeast are all used by local farmers for animal feed and composting. The brewery also operates its own wastewater treatment plant. All the breweries effluent waste water after treatment is used for irrigation on the breweries 28 acres.

By 2010 Allen decided to retire and the brewery was sold to industry veteran Trey White, the former executive vice president of United States Beverage. White focused on innovation and quality, introducing the Bahl Hornin’ Series, expanding the barrel aged and sour beer programs, and increasing brewing capacity. They currently brew 9 year round varieties, and several other seasonal and special varieties.

Belk ESB is an extra special bitter, inspired by the classic “Bitters” from Great Britain. With a deep, golden hue and big malty foundation, the spicy, herbal hop aromas and crisp, bitter bite give a West Coast flair to this classic recipe. It is also known as Boont ESB. Recommended food pairings are fish and chips, roasted lamb, peppery Korean beef, bread pudding, mild English cheddar, and Gouda.

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