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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 19, 2015

Tap Handle #495: Bad Martha

Tap size:  12"
Rarity:  Very Rare
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

This beautiful mermaid came into my possession fairly recently, but I promised the brewery that I would profile it right away. The  mermaid was the concept of owner Jonathon Blum...he wanted to create a mystique based on historical events (Bartholomew Gosnold was the first settler to arrive on the Martha's Vineyard and reportedly brought barley with him for brewing). As for the mermaid, Bad Martha, who the brewery is named after, Blum wanted to create a figure that was sensual rather than sexual. The legend accompanying her creation goes something like this:

"When Bartholomew Gosnold first arrived on the Vineyard in 1602, he had a very thirsty crew. Gosnold set out looking for ingredients to brew his mates some beer. Finding none, he drifted to sleep on the beach. He awoke in the night to a sensual mermaid, beckoning him. Unable to resist the temptation, Gosnold followed, and soon found himself in a field of lush grape leaves. Any other European might have delighted in the possibility of making some great wine, but Gosnold, the good Englishman that he was, used the grape leaves as the secret ingredient in a wonderful batch of beer. Once the ale sufficiently clouded his mind, Gosnold was unsure if he’d ever seen the mermaid at all."

Featuring a blue-clad, dark-haired mermaid with a "bad" tattoo, the sculpting, painting and detail are gorgeous, and I thoroughly approve of the matte finish. The sculpting of her features does a wonderful job of subtly conveying a fantasy character with a not-quite-human appearance. The label also features an image of the mermaid and the name of the brewery, and it is generic - this tap is used for all of the brewery's varieties of beer. At the bottom of the tap are the words "Martha's Vineyard", the island where the beer is brewed. This tap was produced in limited numbers and was expensive to make, and the secondary market value and scarcity has affirmed this.

Click through to read more about Bad Martha Brewery, their flagship Vineyard Ale, and to see more photos of this mystical, sensual, and beautiful tap...

Bad Martha Beer Company was founded in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts in 2012 by Jonathan Blum and Peter Rosbeck. Blum was a global nutrition and public affairs officer for Yum! Brands and a 25-year Vineyard resident, while Rosbeck was a real estate partner interested in the idea of a brewery. A marketing expert, Blum came up with the concept for Bad Martha, beginning by commissioning a drawing of a dark-haired mermaid beckoning customers from the beer’s packaging, and built the beer around it. He hired Jim Carleton, formerly of Boston Beer Works, to lead his operation. They began by partnering with Mercury Brewing in Ipswich to have them contract brew Vineyard Summer Ale and Martha’s Vineyard Ale, the company’s flagship amber ale.

In 2014, Bad Martha Brewing Company opened Bad Martha Farmer’s Brewery & Tasting Room in Edgartown, a tasting barn modeled after the wine tasting rooms in Napa Valley. A 1,905 square foot structure was built on the grounds of Donaroma’s Nursery, which Bad Martha agreed to lease. A portion of the greenhouse was removed and the new building was constructed adjacent to the remaining section of the greenhouse. The structure was built by the Amish in Pennsylvania, disassembled and transported, then reassembled at the Nursery. Donaroma's also contributed to the gardens and flowered trellises in the barn’s outdoor patio area. The site features a 10 seat tasting area on the inside and 24 seats outside under a pergola.

The tasting room offers free samples to anyone 21 and over, with pints and growler refills for purchase. The brewery features a changing selection of 7 to 10 beers brewed on site, along with three beers that are still brewed by Mercury Brewing. Bad Martha won 3 gold medals and 2 bronze medals at the Great International Beer Festival in 2014. Local ingredients are used when possible, including chocolate, coffee, honey, blueberries, beach plums, and grain from local farms, with the possibility of local hops in the future. Their leftover mash is given to local farms to feed livestock. The brewery is committed to supporting the local community, farmers, businesses, and charity; in fact, Blum  has taken mission trips to Sudan, Kenya, and Tanzania to raise millions for hunger relief. In that philanthropic vein, 10 percent of Bad Martha’s profits are donated to the Martha's Vineyard Food Pantry (a food bank charity). Their beer is distributed to restaurants, bars, and stores throughout the island community, as well as a couple hundred locations in Massachusetts, with plans to expand to Chicago.

Martha's Vineyard Ale is a special bitter/ESB that is Bad Martha’s flagship ale. It teases the senses with a devilishly dark honey hue, a smooth caramel flavor and a seductive floral aroma. Brewed with premium English malt, the finest English and American hops, and leaves of the grape that gave the island its name, Martha’s Vineyard Ale lures you in with approachable flavor and light to medium body you’ll want to get your hands on.

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.02 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  79 out of 100 (okay)

Bad Martha's Farmer Brewery
270 Upper Main Street
Edgartown, Massachusetts 02539

(featuring a very cool visual "backstory" on the mermaid & Gosnold)

Source Material
Bad Martha website

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