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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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Friday, November 14, 2014

Tap Handle #438: Yards - The Franklin

Tap Size:  13"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut
Manufacturer:  East Coast Taps

Obtaining this tap has become the pinnacle of my collecting experience, and it is a true museum piece. It is one of only three in existence, and the story behind it is quite unique. As part of the 2013 DesignPhilly Festival, Yards Brewing Company held a tap design contest. The goal was to conceptualize and create a real-life prototype of a new tap handle, with the winning design getting manufactured and used in bars around the city to draft Yards beers. "The Franklin" was the contest entry from East Coast Taps. A gala event was held to choose the winner, during which the taps were put through their paces. According to Audra Quintin, co-owner and Head of Operations of East Coast Taps:

"The vote was supposed to be tabulated from the popular vote from Pinterest, popular vote at the event, and ease of manufacturing. The Franklin won popular vote on Pinterest and had the most likes."

However, The Franklin was not chosen as the winner. It seems inconceivable to me that a tap this beautiful didn't win the contest, but for one night, at least, The Franklin was used to draft Yards Brewing's beer. ECT sold one of the taps to a private collector, and a second tap was sold to a pub owner. I now have the third tap. It's full of amazing little details: the cracked Liberty Bell, the kite and key with actual wire going through it, the eyes and glasses of Ben Franklin, the worn knees of his breeches, his pot belly...East Coast Taps really hit this one out of the park. This tap has been added to my "Cream of the Crop" list that I posted last week. For more about East Coast taps, visit their website, or see my interview with Audra Quintin.

Click through to read more about Yards Brewing and to see more photos of this one-of-a-kind tap...

Yards Brewing was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1994 by Tom Kehoe and Jon Bovit. The two friends had been producing their own homebrews since 1988 and decided to leave their full-time jobs go into the brewing business. Within the first few months, "the Yards Guys" were producing one six-keg batch at a time out of their 3.5-barrel brewhouse, and supplying ESA, Entire Porter, and several other cask-conditioned ales to bars clamoring for their wares. They delivered each keg themselves, making a point of being there whenever a bar tapped its first one. In 1999, Bovit left Yards for financial reasons, and soon after new partners Bill and Nancy Barton came on board.

Yards eventually outgrew its first garage-sized brewery and in 1996 moved to a larger brewery, which allowed them to begin bottling its beer for the first time. In 2001, Yards Brewing Company moved again, into the old Weisbrod & Hess Brewery in the Kensington section of Northeast Philadelphia. The Bartons found the site, which had been vacant since 1939. Yards improved the facility and steadily increased production. In 2003, Yards partnered with the City Tavern - a favorite bar of the nation's founding fathers - to create the Ales of the Revolution, a line of historic beer recreations based on the original recipes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.

In 2007, Kehoe and the Bartons dissolved their partnership, with Kehoe retaining the Yards brand and recipes. He moved the brewery once more, to North Philadelphia into an old industrial space that was previously an indoor skateboard park. This again increased their production capabilities and expanded their product line. In 2009 Yards was the recipient of the Penn Future Green Power Purchaser Small Business Award for becoming the first 100% wind powered brewery in Pennsylvania and for continued commitment to sustainability. They also erected a living hops wall on their building's facade, which is currently growing three kinds of hops: Mt. Hood, Centennial, and Cascade. The hops wall is also featured in the brewery's Google 360° virtual brewery tour, believed to be the first such brewery to use this technology.

In 2010 Yards opened its Tasting Room, a 100-person capacity pub room with a 12-tap system, rotating menu, exclusive small batch offerings, a century old pool table and a shuffle board table. In 2013 Yards expanded their current location, carving out more work area in the landlord’s adjacent space, adding a loading dock, cold-storage, day storage, processing space, a bigger testing lab and space for its first tractor trailer. The brewery produces about 32,000 barrels, has 50 employees, and is the largest brewery in Philadelphia. Yards ales are currently distributed throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, and they produce five different beers year round, including Philadelphia Pale Ale, Extra Special Ale, India Pale Ale, Thomas Jefferson Tavern Ale and General Washington Tavern Porter. Seasonally, Yards brews Love Stout and the occasional Pynk, which incorporates Belgian lambic with fresh raspberries. They also brewed an anniversary beer celebrating Ben Franklin’s 300th Birthday: Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce, a historically brewed spruce/molasses beer.

Philadelphia Pale Ale is Yards Brewing's signature beer. Dry hopped with an abundance of distinctive Simcoe hops, this straw colored pale ale is more drinkable than bitter, more aromatic than aggressive. Philly Pale, as it’s better known, is crisp, hoppy, and bursting with citrus. The New York Times rated it as one of the best pale ales in the country in 2003, and it won Philadelphia Magazine's Best Of Philly award for "Best Local Beer" in 2012. Recommended food pairings are salads with citrus-based vinaigrette, cured or poached salmon, and fresh, sliced Jersey tomatoes, but it is equally as good with a hot dog and peanuts at the ballpark.

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.06 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  84 out of 100 (good)

Yards Brewing Company
901 N. Delaware Avenue
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123

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