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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 27, 2014

Tap Handle #437: Downeast Cider House

Tap size:  9"
Rarity:  Very Rare
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

While some people don't like small taps, when having multiple rows of taps on a shelf it's nice to have one row of smaller taps in front of the large ones, so as to not block the view of the larger taps. And this tap, despite it's small stature, deserves to be right up front. I apologize for the photos, because there is a small white spot in each one. Since the bottle is made of clear resin, it is highly reflective and picked up my light source. But this is also its greatest feature, as the ship and waves inside the bottle are a sight to behold. This tap was difficult to make, requiring a multiple-molding process. Much detail was also applied to the label, with the Downeast lettering appearing pitted (like cork or rust) and shadowed so that at certain angles it has a three-dimensional appearance. The cork on the top is resin and not actual cork. I'm very impressed with this tap, which is very rare.

Click through to read more about Downeast Cider House, their various brews, and to see more photos of this captivating tap...

Downeast Cider House was founded in Waterville, Maine in 2011 by Ross Brockman, Tyler Mosher and Ben Manter. Brockman, a philosophy major, and Mosher, an economics major, didn't want a desk job when leaving school. Mosher's father knew Manter grew up on an apple orchard and suggested they start a hard cider company. They started homebrewing ciders, while Mosher wrote a senior thesis on hard cider. Brockman and Manter experienced hard cider in their travels outside the U.S. The goal of Downeast was to make cider that tasted like the farm. After 8 months they had their recipe down.

Getting off the ground was tough. For two years they borrowed from family and friends before being able to secure a loan from a bank. Downeast set up shop in Waterville, Maine, and began distributing their cider on a relatively small scale. Then a sales trip to Massachusetts resulted in five new accounts - and their first professional crisis - they got four times the orders that they were expecting, and didn’t have enough kegs or cider. It was a bad year for apples, and their supplier ran out. Brockman and Mosher managed to find a new supplier, but it meant moving their home base to Leominster, Massachusetts and using a contract brewer. Manter eventually left the company, but Brockman's older brother Matt came on board.

In 2013 the again moved operations, from Leominster to a 9000 square foot warehouse beneath the Tobin Bridge. They hosted a big launch party to officially christen their Downeast Cider House, and were included on Forbes’ annual “30 under 30” list. The Cider House is a large industrial space filled with brewing tanks, canning equipment, and kegs. The Chinese-made canner Brockman and Mosher bought didn’t work, so they ended up having to buy another one. The new canner works so well that the canning line has the capacity to do 29 cans a minute. They built the pasteurizer themselves due to the expense of a commercial one. The company now has eight employees, and the cider is distributed in New York and in every New England state except Vermont.

In addition to their traditional recipe, they also released a cranberry apple cider, experimented with Belgian-inspired ciders, like a White, one brewed with a Saison yeast, and ciders with twists like mint and vanilla. And after three years of experimentation, Downeast Cider released a hard lemonade that combines a fermented base of unfiltered apple cider, water, cane sugar, and ale yeast with lemonade made from freshly squeezed lemons. The cider is used to help with fermentation. Due to their shoestring budget at their original facility in Waterville, the hard lemonade was shelved in order to focus on their flagship cider, but after moving into the Charlestown warehouse, they have been freed up to entertain some of those initial, more whimsical undertakings. Brockman admits that the timing behind Downeast’s new product is partially inspired by the current wave of enthusiasm surrounding pre-packaged shandies.

The Original Blend is Downeast Cider House flagship brew, made from freshly pressed Maine apples. They use Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, McIntosh, Cortland, and Gala apples in the cider. The Original Blend is straight down the middle, not too dry, not too sweet. It has a decent body, is unfiltered (filtering strips the taste away), and is made with ale yeast. Typically, hard ciders are made with champagne yeast, which makes them drier and more like champagne, so using ale yeast imparts an experience equivalent to beer rather than champagne. For food, cider is great in marinades and sauces as a starting point. It’s also a great gluten-free substitute for any recipe in cooking or baking that calls for beer.

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.13 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  no listing

Downeast Cider House
200 Terminal Street
Chalestown, MA 02129

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