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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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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tap Handle #492: Stone Coast - Black Bear Porter

Tap size:  17.5" tall, 4.75" wide
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

When the person who sold me this tap shipped it to the wrong address by mistake, I was worried I'd never see it, but fortunately the tap found its way to me and it all worked out. The first thing you notice about it is the immense size - it's taller than my backdrop, and is probably one of the tallest taps in the collection. It's also very wide, which forced me to move the backdrop away from the stage when taking the photos. There's a real (though hollow) hockey puck, which is attached to the hockey stick with two screws. The puck bears a colorful, cartoonish label with the beer variety (this image was also used on the bottle label), and the name of the brewery is on the shaft of the stick. Black tape has been wrapped around the stick in a couple of places. Black Bear Porter is named after the University of Maine's Division 1 hockey team, the Black Bears, who won two national championships, one in 1993 and again in 1999. I'm not sure if the tap used by Sunday River (Stone Coast's sister company) is the same, but since Stone Coast has been gone for several years now, this tap is very scarce - in fact I've never seen another.

Click through to read more about Stone Coast, their Black Bear Porter, and to see more photos of this sporting tap...

Stone Coast Brewing was founded in Portland, Maine in 1995 by Grant Wilson and Peter Leavitt. Wilson was an entrepeneur who, along with Leavitt (a brewer and graduate of the Siebel Institute), founded Sunday River Brewing Company in Bethel, Maine in 1992. Bethel was a popular ski resort town, and with Sunday River as its only brewpub (and only the third brewpub in Maine at the time), the company found almost instant success. With this new-found success, Wilson and Leavitt opened the Stone Coast brewpub in Portland using most of the same beer varieties as Sunday River. A second Stone Coast brewpub was opened in 1997 in Laconia, New Hampshire, on the site of the short-lived Winnipesaukee Pub and Brewery at the foot of Laconia's classic New England Main Street. Their beer was in such demand that Stone Coast turned to Casco Bay Brewing for bottling beer. The Portland location was for many years host to some of the best up-and-coming music acts of the region, doubling as a small-to-moderate capacity performance hall. Wilson also owned the State Theater, a downtown Portland building dating from the 1920s that hosted musical performances on a regular basis. 

In 2003 Stone Coast built their own full-scale, state of the art brewery in Portland, including a stainless-steel bottling line. In 2004, they added a one-of-a-kind canning machine and became one of the first microbreweries in the country to can beer. One of the Stone Coast beers, Knuckleball Bock, was served in a sports bar housed in the basement of Fenway Park, a dream of Wilson's (as he was a huge Red Sox fan). In addition to Maine and New Hampshire, Stone Coast also distributed to New York, Vermont, California, and Rhode Island.

In 2008 Stone Coast closed their doors at both locations. The owners cited money - mainly taxes - as the reason for the closure, although others contended it was the gross amounts of money sunk into the company - from the expensive bottling and canning lines to the hefty monetary support for musical acts - that led to its failure. However, the Sunday River brewpub is still in operation, serving many of the same brews that Stone Coast once did.

Black Bear Porter was big, bold, and black, a harmonious blend of dark malts. Its maltiness was nicely balanced by an acrid note from the black malt and firm hopping using English Balding hops. It invoked a full-bodied taste with notes of fruit and toffee.

Ratebeer weighted average (as Sunday River Black Bear Porter):  3.36 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  84 out of 100 (good)

Since Stone Coast Brewing is no longer in business, no address or website is provided.

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