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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, December 26, 2014

Tap Handle #455: Morgan Street - Golden Pilsner

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

For quite some time I resisted acquiring this tap, because I thought the chubby, smiling bear with red eyes was too funny-looking, but when I had the chance to purchase one at a decent price I couldn't resist. The bear is standing on cut rock and holding a sign with the Morgan Street Brewery logo on it. Around the base is a label with the name of the variety of beer. The large ferrule is always a nice touch. The tap used to be easier to find, but seems to be in less supply. If one is patient, however, they can be had at a good price.

Click through to read more about Morgan Street Brewery, their award-winning Golden Pilsner, and to see more photos of the tap...

Morgan Street Brewery was founded in St. Louis, Missouri in 1995 by Steve Owings and Dennis Harper. Owings had worked for Harper’s restaurant Harpo’s in Columbia, Mo., while a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia. In the early 1980s, he opened a Harpo’s on the Landing with Harper, which has since closed. Owings and Harper had no prior brewery experience and credit trips to microbreweries when the industry was taking off in the 1980s for Morgan Street’s inception. They’d visited small breweries in Colorado and immediately saw an opportunity to bring a similar concept to St. Louis. Their current facility originally was a shuttered diner that had a kitchen and was move-in ready. The property that now houses Morgan Street’s brewery, restaurant and hospitality venue was built more than a century ago as a manufacturing facility for Schoelhorn-Albrecht, where riverboat capstans - revolving cylinders for winding rope - were once made.

Owings and Harper hired a beer consultant to get them started and also talked to brewers, including those at Schlafly and Anheuser-Busch, who helped them get up and running with advice on yeast and finding good employees. When they opened the brewery, there were just three other brewers operating locally. In addition to Anheuser-Busch, the St. Louis Brewery, maker of Schlafly beer, opened the Tap Room on downtown’s western edge in 1991. Trailhead Brewing Co. opened in St. Charles in 1995, the same year as Morgan Street.

The nine-block Laclede’s Landing district on the Mississippi River, formerly a manufacturing and shipping hub, stands out from the rest of downtown with its cobblestone streets. Many of Morgan Street Brewery’s patrons are visitors staying at hotels downtown for vacation or conventions. The business also gets an infusion of customers when the Rams or Cardinals are playing home games. Morgan Street brews and cans its beer in a 15-barrel system in an old brick structure within sight of the Mississippi River and a short walk north of the Gateway Arch. The brewer produces 900 barrels annually for distribution at retailers and at bars and restaurants in Missouri, running its brewery operation - visible by customers through large plates of glass - about three or four times a week. There’s also room to grow; the brewery’s annual capacity is 1,600 barrels.

Morgan Street distributes far less than some of its competitors, including Schlafly, St. Louis’ largest craft brewer, which produced more than 56,000 barrels last year. Morgan Street once tried having some of its beer made out of state under a contract brewing arrangement, but the quality wasn’t up to par, Owings said. Instead, the brewer focused on growing its restaurant and catering operations. Owings’ wife, Vicki, oversees Morgan Street’s catering and events business, which has accommodated groups as large as 1,200.

Morgan Street’s beers have cultivated a loyal following. Lactovision, a dark, sour Belgian beer with cherries, is among its offerings. Morgan Street’s When Helles Freezes Over won a gold medal in the Los Angeles International Commercial Beer Competition, and its other beers, including Honey Wheat, Winter, Golden Pilsner and Black Bear, also won medals in the competition.

In 2014 the two owners sold the brewery, citing age and a desire to retire as the main reason. Annual revenue was estimated at over $3 million, and including the brewery property, the asking price was estimated at over $5 million. The two partners still own Sundecker’s Bar & Grill on the Landing, which they will continue to operate. Separately, Harper also is a co-owner of Harpo’s in Chesterfield and Kansas City. Putting the business on the market was a bittersweet moment for Owings and Harper.

Golden Pilsner is a year round, Bohemian-styled Pilsner that is rich and malty. The hop character is spicy due to the use of Czech Saaz hops. It is not quite as bitter as its German Pilsner cousin, with a nice rounded taste and a clean, crisp finish. The appearance is pale to deep gold, with a creamy white head. This beer has won many awards, with the most prestigious being a gold medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup. 

Ratebeer weighted average:  2.89 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  77 out of 100 (good)

Morgan Street Brewing
721 N. Second Street
St. Louis, Missouri 63102

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