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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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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.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tap Handle #361: Falstaff Saddle

Tap Size:  6"
Rarity:  Very rare
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

The Falstaff saddle is a tap that might possibly be older than the Coors Beer Wolf or Mickey's. It is made of plastic rather than resin or metal, making it lightweight, but also making it very fragile. It's a bit small but the detail is excellent. I've heard that a few of these were made out of metal, but I've never seen one. Since these taps are older and prone to breaking, they are pretty rare and expensive.

Click more to see additional photos and read about the rise and fall of the once-mighty Falstaff Brewing Corporation...

The Falstaff Brewing Corporation was founded in St. Louis, Missouri as the Lemp Brewery in 1838. John Adam Lemp was a German immigrant who made his way to St. Louis and started his brewery, locating it over a series of caves that were used for cold storage. In 50 years, he built the brand into one of the country's most popular. In 1903 the company was renamed after the Shakespearean character of Sir John Falstaff. However, from the time of its founding to the time it became Falstaff, the Lemp family was devastated by a series of personal tragedies. The economic effects of prohibition was the final nail in the coffin for the Lemps, and the brewery went into receivership in 1920s. Joseph Griesedieck approached his good friend William J. Lemp II and bought the rights to the Falstaff name as well as the familiar shield logo, for a small sum. Griesedieck bought the brewery anticipating the repeal of Prohibition; in the meantime they marketed near beer, soft drinks, and cured hams under the Falstaff name. Falstaff Brewing became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange, which was rare for a brewing industry in which families closely guarded their ownership.

When Prohibition was repealed in 1933 the first two cases Falstaff were airlifted from nearby Curtiss Stienberg Airport to the governors of Illinois and Missouri. After Prohibition, the company expanded greatly. Its first acquisition was the 1936 purchase of the Krug Brewery in Omaha, which made Falstaff the first brewery to operate plants in two different states. Other facilities bought in this period included National. in 1937, Berghoff in 1954, Galveston-Houston in 1956, and Mitchell in 1956.

Falstaff was the third largest brewer in America by the 1960s, with several plants across the country. Production peaked in 1965 with 7,010,218 barrels brewed, but that year the acquisition of another company, the Narragansett Brewing Company of Rhode Island, proved disastrous, with the state government of Rhode Island pursuing an antitrust case against them. The Supreme Court found in Falstaff's favor in 1973, but the company never recovered. Fortunes declined throughout the 1970s as consolidation swept the beer industry, and the company was bought in April 1975 by the S&P Company, owned by Paul Kalmanovitz. S & P also bought General, Pabst, Pearl, Olympia, and Stroh's.

Kalmanovitz and S&P made a series of missteps with their brands, including their handling of labor issues, lawsuits, layoffs, and abandoning or demolishing breweries. As sales declined, the original Falstaff St. Louis plant was closed. Subsequent closures included New Orleans in 1979, Cranston and Galveston in 1981, and Omaha in 1987. After the 1990 closing of the last Falstaff brewery in Fort Wayne, the brand name became a licensed property of Pabst (a former competitor with family marriage ties to the Lemps), which continued to produce Falstaff Beer under contract with City Brewery in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Having sold only 1468 barrels of the brand during 2004, Pabst discontinued production of the Falstaff label in May 2005.

As for the original brewery building, it is gradually showing signs of its age. Structural problems have continued to mount due to a fire, decaying mortar and water damage, and the caves over which the brewery was built are flooded. The building was designed by the renowned architectural firm E. Jungenfeld and Company. They had also designed many breweries around the country including, but not limited to, the Lemp and Anheuser-Busch Breweries as well as many other interesting and well made brick buildings in the area throughout the late 1800's-early 1900's.

Falstaff Beer was a pale lager that in its later years was only a shadow of its formerly popular recipe. Weighted average on is 2.18 out of 5.

Since Falstaff has been out of production for several years, there is no website devoted to production of the beer. Instead, there is a fan site devoted to the brand, which you can find here.

Source Material
Falstaff Fan SIte
Sublunar Photography (great yet horrific photos of the current state of the brewery)

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