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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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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tap Handle #389: Duquesne Pilsener

Tap size:  13"
Rarity:  Rare
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

I love this tall Duquesne tap featuring the "Prince", a variation of the "Duke", an iconic advertising character belong to Duquesne since the 1930's that is similar to Heidelberg's Merchant Prince. It features the "Prince Salute", with the brewery name featured on each side of the three-sided base. The detail is great and although I'd love a matte finish on the Prince, the painting is still excellent and vibrant. Produced by the new owners who have resurrected the brand, it is fairly rare and commands a high price. There are two versions, a 6" and a 13" version.

Click through to read more about the fall of the once-mighty Duquesne, its successful resurrection, its award-winning Pilsener, and to see more photos of this proud tap...


Duquesne Brewing (pronounced "doo-cane") was founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1899 by Henry Miller and five partners. It was named after the prominent local figure in the French and Indian War, Marquis Duquesne. Although 3 breweries were planned, only the first was built, a Romanesque six-story structure that initially employed 300 workers. Cutting edge technology such as mechanical refrigeration, pasteurization, steam heat, and the first electric truck used by a brewer in the nation all helped the company market its first beer by 1900. Brewing operations in Pittsburgh were being dominated by a large "brewery trust" formed from several smaller breweries, called the Pittsburgh Brewing Company. In order to compete with the large trust, Duquesne joined with 15 other breweries to form their own trust, the Independent Brewing Company of Pittsburgh. A third company soon entered the crowded market, the Fort Pitt Brewing Company.


In 1920 Prohibition forced many breweries, distillers, and taverns to close. Independent Brewing desperately tried to stay afloat by selling off assets and even producing varieties of “near beer,” a malt tonic with one-half percent alcohol. But Prohibition was too tough on Independent Brewing and the company was forced to close the doors of its remaining breweries. John H. Friday, who was president of the company since 1915, would never again see the production of Duquesne beer, passing away in 1932. His son, John A. Friday Sr., tried to reassemble Independent Brewing when Prohibition was repealed in 1933, but the attempt to salvage the company failed. Instead of walking away, Friday led a reorganization of Duquesne under the original charter. The Duquesne Brewing Company purchased the remaining assets of Independent Brewing, using the original location as their parent brewery, with satellite plants in Carnegie and Stowe Township. With a 325,000 barrel per year capacity, Duquesne Brewing was the largest of eight Pittsburgh brewers to survive Prohibition.


The first appearance of the signature Duquesne “Duke” was in the company’s advertising of the late 1930’s. The German style Duke was thought to be a bit too controversial with the onset of WWII, and the Duke soon adopted the white-jacketed “Prince of Pilsener” look that still exists today. By 1940, Duquesne was brewing 690,000 barrels per year, making it the largest brewery in Pennsylvania and the eighth largest in America. When Friday passed away in 1941, Louis F. Koenig, who worked for Duquesne since 1903, became president of the company. However, advances in transportation and refrigeration technology allowed large national brewers to cut into the profits of local brewers. These obstacles, along with competing labor unions, created hard times for Duquesne Brewing. To combat these factors, Duquesne built a $10-million state-of-the-art brewhouse in 1950. However, Duquesne was never able to fully utilize its 2 million barrel per year capacity, and by 1952, the brewery was operating solely from its South Side plant, having closed the Stowe Township plant in 1950 and the Carnegie plant in 1952.


In 1954, John A. Friday Jr. became the new president. The next ten years were filled with more cut-throat competition with both local and national brewers, and Duquesne released several new beers in order to cover all areas of the market, while expanding into the Cleveland market by purchasing the rights to P.O.C. Beer from the Pilsener Brewing Company in 1963. In 1965, Duquesne’s light-hearted and manly ad campaigns aimed at the blue-collar market began to reverse three straight years of profit loss. The new found success attracted Pittsburgh Brewing, who tried to purchase Duquesne but ran afoul of anti-trust laws, and the Friday family, longtime stewards of the brand, would lose control to investor Raymond Sigesmund in a stock battle in 1966. Sales continued to fall due to competition from national brands, and after labor strikes and a financial settlement, the company sold its labels to C. Schmidt & Sons Brewing Company of Philadelphia in late 1972, closing the flagship plant and putting 425 people out of work. Schmidt brewed Duquesne in Cleveland into the 1980s, but sales fell drastically soon after and the brand was discontinued.


In 2008, Pittsburgh-area attorney Mark J. Dudash, who had worked at Pittsburgh Brewing in the 1980s, and his wife, Maria, incorporated Duquesne Brewing Company also re-registered the brand's trademark, which had expired. That same year Maria was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mark & Maria worked even harder to bring their dreams to fruition, starting brewing in 2010 by City Brewing Company at the Latrobe plant where Rolling Rock was once made. In 2011, the World Beer Cup Championship awarded Duquesne Pilsener with the top award in the pilsener/lager category. In 2012, Duquesne Brewing Company launched its second beer named Duquesne LT, a premium light pilsener. That year the World Beer Championship awarded Duquesne LT with a bronze medal. Since the 2010 revival, Duquesne Brewing Company has expanded its market from Pennsylvania to Ohio.


The beautiful 1899 Romanesque Duquesne Brewery brewhouse building (pictured below), including the old keg storage, office building, and bottling works, has survived as a mixture of living, storage, and retail space.


Duquesne Pilsener is a straw yellow pilsener made with two-row barley that provides a very gentle bite and is brewed with extra malt for a bright white head. It possesses a clean aroma that is slightly hoppy and balanced with mild maltiness. The use of premium two-row malt gives Duquesne Pilsener more body than the typical American brew. The beer’s strongest seasoning is a blend of three premium hops - Hallertau hops from Germany, Saaz hops from the Czech Republic and Magnum hops from Washington State. It has a rich body, and light carbonation gives a silky texture to the mouth, leaving a soft, very subtle and pleasant aftertaste or finish.


Ratebeer weighted average:  2.41 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  75 out of 100 (okay)



Source Material
Duquesne website


1 comment:

  1. I have one of the 13" versions but i cant seem to find a value for it anywhere. Does anybody have any suggestions? Thanks

    ReplyDelete