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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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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tap Handle #454: Mellow Mushroom (Red Brick) - Bogart Ale

Tap size:  9.25"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

This is the first of two taps I'll be profiling that feature an Alice in Wonderland theme. Alice in Wonderland was a book written by Lewis Carroll in 1865 that has since been featured in print, illustrations, paintings, cartoons, TV shows and movies. The Mellow Mushroom tap is gorgeous - the colors are bold and bright, but it's the detailed sculpting that really sets it apart from other taps. Featuring a caterpillar and Alice on top of a mushroom, the caterpillar has 6 arms (which are all holding bottles of beer) and 2 legs, with the word "Bogart" on its belly indicating the name of the beer. And check the pupils in Alice's eyes - it shows that a lot of attention to detail was placed in the tap's design and production. The tap is very hard to find...although there are many Mellow Mushroom locations, Bogart Ale was only offered locally in the Atlanta area. The beer has been out of production for many years, and these taps are prone to damage thanks to all of the caterpillar's arms and the fragile mushroom that got beat up (since there is no ferrule). If you see one you should grab it, because I've only ever seen 5 that weren't damaged. However, the skyrocketing price of this tap, along with its scarcity, might make acquiring one very difficult.

Click through to read more about Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurants and to see more photos of this whimsical tap...

Mellow Mushroom was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1974 by two college students from Georgia Tech. The two young men wanted to start a business that reflected their eccentric (hippy) philosophies, and seeing pizza baking as an art form, desired to perfect the art of making pizza. To accommodate the long lines and growing popularity, more locations were opened in and around Atlanta. In the late 1980s, the first franchise was opened by an employee, followed by customer-owned franchises, and then to friends of employees and customers. The first franchise to be located outside of Atlanta was in Athens, Georgia, near the University of Georgia.

There are now over 150 locations operating across the country. Most stores are within the Southeastern United States, with a high concentration of them in college towns. In 2011 Mellow Mushroom reached the west coast and opened a location in the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon, but that store closed just over two years later, and is now a 10 Barrel Brewpub. The menus include pizza, calzones, hoagies, salads, and craft beer. Each Mellow Mushroom carries a unique collection of craft, local, regional and international beers, curated to fit the local beer culture by encouraging and supporting partnerships with local breweries.

The visual identity of Mellow Mushroom Pizza was defined during their early franchising phase by Atlanta artist Buddy Finethy. Finethy created and refined the signature cast of characters that identified the chain. The cast includes "Mel O. Mushroom", his ace sidekick "Dude Shroomington", psychedelic sorcerer "The Wizard", "Melody Mushroom", and three smaller shrooms known as "The Funguys"- Por, Toe, and Bello. Finethy also helped refine and stratify the influences that informed the Mellow Mushroom aesthetic. When he first came to Mellow Mushroom, they didn't have much money to pay him with, so he traded illustrations for pizza. Finethy had picked up commercial illustration jobs at several restaurants in the mid-1980s while a student at the Art Institute of Atlanta. He became a go-to artist, eventually landing jobs with Frito-Lay and Coca Cola. Twenty-four years later, Finethy is still with Mellow Mushroom, heading up crews of young artists who decorate new restaurants with an array of murals, sculptures, found art and mementos.

Bogart Ale (listed as a pale ale on Beer Advocate and an ESB on Ratebeer) was developed in a partnership between Mellow Mushroom and Atlanta Brewing Company (later known as Red Brick Brewing) and was sold only in Mellow Mushroom locations. Atlanta Brewing was awarded a Gold Medal for its Bogart Ale in the Special Bitter or Best Bitter category in the 2009 Carolina Championship of Beers, and Bogart Ale was also named Best of Show, topping all other entries. Bogart Ale has been retired since at least 2011.

Ratebeer weighted average:  2.87 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  79 out of 100 (okay)

Mellow Mushroom
400 West Peachtree St, Spring Street/Ivan Allen Jr Blvd
Atlanta, GA 30308

For more about Atlanta Brewing/Red Brick Brewery, see this post.

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