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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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tap Handle #341: Green Man

A Green Man is a sculpture, drawing, or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Commonly used as a decorative architectural ornament, Green Men are frequently found on carvings in churches and other buildings (both secular and ecclesiastical). This Green Man has a gold face surrounded by leaves. There are a few variations of this tap, including some that have the beer variety on the base in raised letters, and a rare brown and yellow version that is all wood and more ornate.

Click through to read more about Green Man Brewing...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tap Handle #340: Hops Restaurant and Brewpub - Lightning Bold Gold

The Hops Restaurant and Brewpub has been responsible for producing some beautiful taps that have been high on my wishlist, and this tap is no exception. I'm afraid pictures don't do it justice...it's a beauty, and heavy too! The detail and metallic coloring are excellent as well.

The Hops Restaurant and Brewpub was founded in 1989 in Clearwater, Florida by David Mason and Tom Schelldorf. When the business took off, the two opened more Florida locations, and by the mid 1990s they were up to 13 locations. In 1996 the course of growth changed for Hops when Avado Brands, Inc. formerly known as Apple South, Inc., took an interest in the fast growing concept. In 1997 Hops was bought by Apple South, Inc., and joined their family of restaurants that included Don Pablo's. Hops also was awarded with A "Hot Concept Award" presented by Nations Restaurant News. They eventually expanded to 70 locations in sixteen states, and at one time were the largest brewpub chain in the country. But overexpansion and poor beer reviews caught up with the company, and locations began to close.

In early 2008, Rita Restaurant Corp. bought all the remaining Hop restaurants from Avado Brands and still owns both Hops and Don Pablo’s corporate locations. However, Hops brewpubs continued to close until finally only one location remained in Virginia. Hops has always produced 4 core beers, and has imported Czechoslovakian hops rather than using Pacific Northwest hops.

Lightning Bold Gold is a pale lager with a golden hue, medium body, and is a refreshing alternative to a classic lager style beer. Finished with imported Saaz Hops, Lightning Bold Gold promises a smooth finish. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.19 out of 5.

Hops Restaurant and Brewpub Official Website

Source Material
Hops Website
Charlotte Beer: A History of Brewing in the Queen City by Daniel Anthony Hartis

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tap Handle #339: Anchor - Christmas Ale

This tap was a gift from a friend. It's not very figural, featuring a tiny anchor on the top of the tap, but it's a gift, it's nautical, and Anchor's rich history is a good read. The timing is perfect, as I just returned from 4 days in California, where I attended my company's corporate holiday party. With stops in several places, from Santa Cruz to San Jose and San Francisco, it seemed that every single bar or restaurant was serving Anchor. One of my friends, a local employee from corporate, didn't hesitate in ordering the lager while we ate at a restaurant at the Santa Cruz pier. I did not try it myself, although I'd like to give the Christmas Ale a taste.

Anchor was founded in 1871 in San Francisco, California by Gottlieb Brekle. A German immigrant and brewer, Brekle arrived in San Francisco in 1849 with his family during the gold rush. He bought an old beer-and-billiards saloon for $3,500 and converted it to a brewery. German brewer Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the brewery and named it Anchor. In 1906, Baruth died suddenly, and two months later the devastating fire following San Francisco's great earthquake consumed Anchor Brewery. In 1907, just as Anchor Brewery was opening at its new location Schinkel was run over by a streetcar. German brewers Joseph Kraus and August Meyer, along with liquor store owner Henry Tietjen, were able to keep the brewery going.

Prohibition shut Anchor down in 1920. The brewery sat idle until Prohibition ended in 1933, when Kraus re-opened Anchor as the last Steam Beer producer (also called California common beer). The newly re-opened brewery went up in smoke the following year. He re-opened Anchor in an old brick building with a new partner, Joe Allen, close to its current location. Kraus and Allen valiantly kept Anchor afloat until Kraus’s death in 1952. By late 1959, America's new-found taste for mass-produced, heavily marketed lighter beers had taken its toll on Anchor's already declining sales. Allen shut Anchor down for a brief period, until Lawrence Steese bought and re-opened Anchor in 1960 at yet another nearby location, retaining Allen to carry Anchor's brewing tradition forward. But Steese had an increasingly difficult time convincing loyal Bay Area establishments to continue serving Anchor Steam, as he lacked the expertise and attention to cleanliness that are required to produce consistent batches of beer for commercial consumption. By 1965 the brewery had a deserved reputation for producing sour, bad beer, and Steese was ready to shut Anchor down.

A young Stanford grad named Fritz Maytag learned that the makers of his favorite beer were soon to close their doors forever. Despite its primitive equipment and financial condition, Fritz rushed to buy 51% of the historic little San Francisco brewery for a few thousand dollars, rescuing Anchor from imminent bankruptcy. He later purchased the company outright, and had to learn the brewing process from scratch, invest in improvements to the equipment, and focus heavily on cleanliness in the brewing process. In 1971, 100 years after the founding of the brewery, Maytag began bottling Anchor Steam Beer. By 1975, Anchor had produced four other distinctive beers: Anchor Porter, Liberty Ale, Old Foghorn Barleywine Ale, and the first annual Christmas Ale. Although the terms “microbrewing” and “craft brewing” had yet to be coined, Anchor was at that time fitting the description (which is why it now calls itself America's first craft brewery), and inspired many other craft brewers. By 1977, Anchor had five products, a dozen employees and had nearly outgrown its most recent brewery. After a long search, Maytag purchased an old coffee roastery, built in 1937, which is its current location.

In 1984, Anchor celebrated its fifth anniversary at its new home by brewing a special wheat beer, the first wheat beer in America since Prohibition, and now known as Anchor Summer Beer. In 1989, Anchor developed its Sumerian Beer Project and Ninkasi, a beer made according to a 4,000 year old recipe. Later that same year, the Brewery was rocked but not damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake. In 1993, Anchor Brewing became the first brewery in the world with its own in-house distillery. In 2010 Maytag retired and sold the brewery to former Skyy vodka executives Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio. In 2013, Anchor announced they will occupy what is now Pier 48 with production and distribution facilities, a restaurant, museum and other public attractions. The 212,000-square-foot space is an addition to Anchor Brewing's existing plant, and will quintuple the company's output from 120,000 to 600,000 barrels a year.  Construction is expected to begin in late 2014, and Anchor Steam could be on tap there by the end of 2016. Anchor currently brews 12 varieties, including 8 core beers and 4 seasonals.

Anchor Christmas Ale is a spiced herbal ale with ingredients that the brewery keeps a secret. Since 1975, Anchor has brewed Christmas Ale; the recipe is different every year, as is the tree on the label. Properly refrigerated, the beer remains intriguing and drinkable for years. Different nuances emerge as the flavor mellows slightly, much like the memories of great holiday seasons past. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.55 out of 5.

Anchor Brewing Official Website

Source Material
Anchor Brewing Website
Wikipedia
SFGate

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tap Handle Repairs and Repaints

One subject I haven't talked about much is repairs and repainting of tap handles. To hardcore collectors who only collect new or new in box taps, they'll have no interest in this subject. But for the rest of us, there are some important considerations we should think about when it comes to taps.

Most figural taps are made of resin. Resin can be poured as a liquid and cured as a solid, allowing it to be molded from an original sculpting (as opposed to wood or metal which must be carved or fabricated by man or machine). It also takes paint well, which, when combined with its molding properties, can make for some incredible-looking taps. The downside is that resin is fragile when it encounters forces that can cause chipping and breaking.

When you think about the limited runs of some taps, the use of them in bars and restaurants (where damage can easily occur), and the number that have been damaged or broken during shipping when packed poorly, some taps can be very hard to find. Any tap that can be "rescued", or repaired and repainted, should be considered as a way to preserve these limited collectibles.

I've mentioned my friend Kelly several times in this blog, mainly as the one who really grew the collection in the early years. Kelly also happens to be a talented artist, whose skills can bring a ruined tap back to life. He uses his talent and techniques that make it impossible to tell that a tap was ever broken, chipped, or missing paint. In some cases, Kelly can make a tap look better than the original.


A prime example of this is Kelly's Hobgoblin tap handle. We've managed to acquire some fantasy taps for Kelly - Chupacabra, Jester King, and Raven Special Lager being a few - and recently he acquired a Hobgoblin tap. As you can see from the photos to the left and right, the paint job on the Hobgoblin is not very attractive. There was also a good sized chip at the bottom of the tap.




After Kelly repaired the chip at the base, he began to repaint the tap. He decided to change the color palette, making the hobgoblin's skin green, and basically reinvented the tap with only his imagination as a guide. The results, pictured to the left and right, are astounding. Not only is it impossible to tell that the piece was repaired, the new color scheme is unique, and looks jaw-dropping. I see nothing wrong with  changing the color...which looks better: the tap that has an unattractive paint scheme and is chipped, or the repainted tap?

Poorly-done repairs, while "saving" the tap, can also detract from its appearance. It takes a skilled craftsperson to repair taps and make them look new again. If a tap is broken, it's better to leave it that way and let an expert fix it rather than trying to glue it back together...if a repair is done poorly, with globs of glue or features that no longer line up properly, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to restore. When selling taps, it's important to disclose that a tap has been repaired, even if it is hard or impossible to detect...it's just the right thing to do. However, it's okay to emphasize how good the repair is, and challenge buyers to even find evidence of the repair. When displaying repaired taps, a good repair will most likely go undetected by people viewing the collection, and to someone like me, who buys taps because I like them and not as an investment, that's just as good as having a new tap...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tap Handle #338: Revolution - Anti-hero IPA

This is the second of the two Revolution taps that I mentioned in my previous post. There's not much to add that I haven't already said about these taps, except that the white fist is usually paired with the Bottom Up Wit label...

Anti-hero IPA is an Indian Pale Ale with an American hop assault. This iconic ale features a blend of four hop varieties which creates a crisp bitterness and imparts massive floral and citrus aromas. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.68 out of 5.

For more about Revolution Brewing, see this post.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tap Handle #337: Revolution - Rosa Hibiscus Brown Ale

This is one of two Revolution taps I own, with both of them shaped like a fist. I was fortunate enough to grab the pair of them at the same time. It is very similar to the Iron Fist tap I profiled back in post #273. However, in a curious twist, the Iron Fist tap is right-handed, while this tap is left-handed. The big red star on the wrist also sets this tap apart. The label is magnetic, allowing easy changeovers to different varieties, and there are at least 6 different tap colors. The tap isn't rare but it is popular, with the green-colored fist being the highest in popularity.

Revolution Brewing was founded in 2010 in Chicago, Illinois by managing partner Josh Deth. Deth was a novice homebrewer who landed a job cleaning kegs at the now-defunct Golden Prairie Brewing in 1995. A few years later, Deth dreamt up the idea for Revolution while working at Goose Island as a cellarman and brew pub brewer. After the first few tries at opening a brewery didn't work out, Deth opened Handlebar in 2003 and worked as Executive Director of Logan Square Chamber of Commerce. While working at the Chamber, he found an old building on Milwaukee Avenue with pressed tin ceiling, exposed brick and timber, and weathered maple floors. After three years of raising funds, dealing with the zoning issues, and construction, the Revolution brewpub opened, adding a 2nd floor Brewers' Lounge in 2011. The opened a new production brewery and tap room in a second location in 2012. They brew three year round beers and 18 seasonal & specialty varieties. They have won medals at both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.

Rosa Hibiscus is an herbal brown ale steeped with hibiscus flowers and a touch of orange peel for a natural tartness and slight pink hue. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.08 out of 5.

Revolution Official Website

Source Material
Revolution Website
Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tap Handle #336: Hacker-Pschorr - Oktoberfest

It's hard to believe that it's been a week since my last post. Sometimes life has a way of mucking up the best intentions and plans. So I'm trying to slip in a tap that I don't have to do research on. This beautiful tap has some really fantastic detail, and is quite popular. Like the other Hacker-Pschorr tap, the Maibock, this one is expensive too. It has a nickname that I'll not divulge here in public.

According to one source, this handle was made expressly for Hacker-Pschorr in time for the 2011 Munich Oktoberfest. The picture to the right is of the 2011 Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Girl that it was modeled after. The beer hall in the background is from the Hacker-Pschorr Beer Pavilion in Munich Germany during the 2011 Beer Festival.

Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest has two versions, a lager and a Marzen. I'll cover the Marzen since it's the more available. It uses Bavarian barley slow roasted and caramelized to a rich, red amber color, combined with the purest spring waters from the Alps, exclusive yeast, and the finest Hallertau hops. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 3.38 out of 5.

For more about Hacker-Pschorr, see this post.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tap Handle #335: English Ales - 1066 English Pale Ale

My English Ales tap is in pretty rough shape. The paint job is terrible, it's got stains on it, and it's missing the ferrule. I'm hoping a paint touch up will restore it to a decent appearance. It's a project, but I couldn't pass it up for the price. I think it will look great when it is done. These seem to be pretty hard to come by.

English Ales was founded in 2000 in Marina, California by Peter and Rosemary Blackwell. Peter was a native Brit who wanted to brew authentic English beer in the Monterey area. He started by visiting breweries in England and attempting to convince the owners to license their beer to him. A pub owner directed Peter to Steve Winduss of Hampshire Brewery. Winduss was open to the idea and the Blackwells got started. Originally they wanted to open in Monterey, but the water costs were prohibitive, so they built a genuine English brewpub in Marina, doing most of the construction themselves. They opened in 2000, as a commercial brewery with attached brewpub.

The beginnings were tough. With no advertising, director of sales Jeff Moses drove around with a keg of beer from restaurant to restaurant, letting the owners sample the beer. It paid off, as orders increased and EA ran out of beer, which led to increased production. They now brew 8 year round beers and a few seasonals using authentic English recipes.

1066 English Pale Ale is the brewery's most popular beer. It is a classic English pale ale, light in color yet the strongest of their beers. The result is from European pale malt, balanced with a robust dose of hops. Weighted average on ratebeer.com is 2.96 out of 5.

English Ales Official Website

Source Material
English Ales Website
Monterey County Weekly

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tap Handle #334: Fischer (Heineken) - Tradition Lager

Tap size:  11.25"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting: standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

This is an amazing tap...the detail is incredible. It's a kind of folk art devil, with a sign in its mouth, while the body tapers down to become the handle and ends at a cloven hoof. It has a carved wood look but is actually resin and is quite heavy. It's another one of those super rare European imports that are tough to track down, especially since the original brewery is closed, although I'm not certain if the tap was produced by the original brewery or the brand's later owner, Heineken. I've only ever seen about 3 others.

Click through to read more about the Fischer Brewery, it's Tradition lager, and to see more photos of this impressive tap...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tap Handle #333: The Great Beer Company - Hollywood Brunette

Tap size:  11.75"
Rarity:  Very Rare
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

Every so often I get a tap that becomes an instant favorite. This tap is one of them. It's a stunner that drew rave reviews from my friends when I showed it to them. It features a woman dressed for the Hollywood Red Carpet; she's wearing a swanky dress, along with pearls and gloves, with her hands clasped behind her back. The brewery name and beer variety appears just below her, using a classic serial movie design. Below that is the brewery insignia, with a larger version appearing on the backside. There are similar variations of the tap featuring a blonde and a redhead, with different hair and dress colors and a different name. The tap is very rare; only a few have shown up on the secondary market, and the price was quite expensive.

Click through to read more about The Great Beer Company, their Hollywood Blonde (I can't find any info on a Brunette variety), and to see more photos of this fashionable tap...