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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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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tap Handle #380: Cisco - Grey Lady

Tap size:  10.75"
Rarity:  Rare
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

The making of a tap handle is largely a mystery. For beer drinkers, an order of beer is often influenced by the creativity or appeal of a tap, while for many collectors, it's important to own a tap handle based on desirability or rarity. What's often overlooked is the story behind the tap. Who came up with the idea? How did the design come about? Were there early versions of the tap that looked different? How many were made? Usually only the brewery and the tap handle manufacturer know the answers to these questions. That's what makes the Grey Lady mermaid tap handle from Cisco Brewing different from others.

Click through to read more about the story behind the Grey Lady tap, as well as the brewery and its Grey Lady beer...

Kristen Hull is the Retail Manager and Web & Social Media Manager for Cisco Brewing. When I initially
sought to acquire a Grey Lady tap handle for myself, Kristen offered me an opportunity I don't often get when obtaining a tap: a glimpse into the story behind it. The design of the Grey Lady comes from a sketch Kristen made in response to the old design. Kristen explains: "The story behind the design is that for years we have just made fun of how ugly the original Grey Lady Ale mermaid is. Her forearm is almost as big as her head and her nose is just ridiculous. She has no chin and looks like she probably would arm wrestle you to the ocean floor and then beat you senseless with the bottle in her hand. My boss thought I should try to draw a more feminine look for her and really liked my drawing. Her tail on both the original logo and the new tap handle is a hop leaf (you probably already knew this but many people don't catch it) and in the new drawing her hair is shaped in several places to resemble our wave logo."

With the old Grey Lady still found on the beer's labels and packaging, Kristen turned to her sketch to build a better mermaid for the tap handle, and collaborated with a tap handle manufacturer to turn that vision into a reality. Based on Kristen's drawing, the results clearly indicate success. With a pleasing grey and green color scheme, nice details such as the aforementioned hop leaf tail and wave logos in the hair, the big Cisco emblem behind her, and a pretty face, the 10.75" tall Grey Lady is a highly desirable tap handle, the kind of tap that draws the eye and has patrons asking for the beer that the beautiful mermaid represents. It also commands a high price on the collector's market. Tap handles are marketing tools for beer, and each time the Grey Lady tap is pulled to dispense draft beer, she has fulfilled her purpose.

Cisco Brewing was founded in 1995 in Nantucket, Massachusetts by Randy and Wendy Hudson. Wendy started home brewing with some friends while living in California, but in 1992 she returned to the island and met Randy. Instantly, she not only knew that Randy was her soul mate, but also that he would make a great brewer, so she bought him a home brewing kit. He had worked at a bakery on the island, which gave him an intuitive feel for working with yeast and grain. They became friends with Dean and Melissa Long, who had founded the Nantucket Vineyard in 1981. Randy and Wendy moved into the loft over the winery and began lending a hand to the Long’s wine endeavors. The pair founded Cisco Brewing while working at the vineyard.

It soon became apparent that they needed more space. A new building was built in 1996 and housed both the brewery and winery. The brewery grew rapidly, so much so that Cisco used contract brewing with Ipswich and another brewer in NY to assist in the production of some of their most popular beers.

The brewery currently produces 4 year-round varieties of beer, along with several seasonal and specialty brews, including "The Woods", a series of oak barrel-aged beers. The barrels are recycled from their wine production, and when they are no longer suitable for wine, they are used to produce these beers. The Woods series is highly rated, as evidenced by the White Woods variety winning a bronze medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup. Cisco products are currently distributed in 12 states and have gained recognition from The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Associated Press, Boston Magazine, Agenda Magazine, and Elle Magazine.

Grey Lady Ale is a Belgian White (witbier) named for the often foggy island where it is brewed. This wheat beer is fermented with Belgian yeast and brewed with fresh fruit and spices. A unique ale that emits a complex, earthy nose and a soft, mid-palate maltiness with hints of tropical fruit while being dry and spicy. Weighted average on is 3.12 out of 5.

Cisco Brewery
5 and 7 Bartlett Farm Road
Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA 02584

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