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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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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tap Handle #509: Philadelphia Brewing - Walt Wit

Tap size:  15.25"
Rarity:  Very Rare
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

This tap got rave reviews from everyone I showed it to. Who wouldn't want a giant pencil as a tap handle? It actually looks like a real pencil...the eraser is a real, giant eraser, and the the band around the eraser is metal. The tap is huge, one of the largest in the collection, and has 6 sides, with 3 sets of 2 sides that are identical to each other. It is very rare - I've seen maybe 5 others - but they have all sold for a decent price.

Walt Wit is named after Walt Whitman, the American writer and poet who lived during the 1800s and has been called "America's poet", and Andrew Carnegie called him "the great poet of America so far." His crowning achievement was "Leaves of Grass." Whitman's vagabond lifestyle was adopted by the Beat movement and its leaders such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac in the 1950s and 1960s as well as anti-war poets like Adrienne Rich and Gary Snyder. Whitman also influenced Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, and was the model for the character of Dracula.

Click through to read more about Philadelphia Brewing Company, their Walt Wit, and to see more photos of this signature tap...

Philadelphia Brewing Company (PBC) was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2007 by Bill Barton, Nancy Barton and Jim McBride. Tom Kehoe, the owner of Yards Brewing, and the Bartons knew each other through friends, and they occasionally drank beer together. When Nancy, who'd recently been laid off from her job as a mortgage closer, learned of the brewery's financial problems, she volunteered to be a salesperson. Bill had worked at a New Jersey auto brokerage firm before being fired and winning a wrongful termination suit. The Bartons scraped together their money and bought a stake in ownership in Yards in 1999. Kehoe made the beer and the Bartons ran the business. The Bartons helped stabilized the business and quadrupled production.

Desperate to find a location for Yards to expand into, the Bartons were scouting sites when they stumbled across a big brick complex in the neighborhood of Kensington. The complex was actually the old Weisbrod & Hess Brewery. George Weisbrod and Christian Hess opened their brewery in 1882, which also housed refrigerating houses, a stable, cooper shop, bar, store, and meeting rooms. The Weisbrod and Hess Oriental Brewery operated until Prohibition in 1920. The brewery reopened for five years following Prohibition, but shut down in 1939. As other brewery and textile companies folded over the years, the area slowly declined, crime became rampant, and garbage littered the site and adjoining streets. The Bartons organized a neighborhood cleanup, and by 2001 Yards was brewing beer on the site.

As the Bartons focused on restoring the historic building and connecting with the neighborhood community, they began to differ with Kehoe over business philosophy. Kehoe felt the Bartons were too focused on the building and Philadelphia market, and not enough on expanding the business. By 2006 the two parties decided to terminate their arrangement, which took 18 contentious months to negotiate. The final agreement had the Bartons surrender their interest in Yards in exchange for control of the facility. The Bartons were able to retain their entire staff of Yards employees, along with the brewing equipment. For five months, Kehoe rented the equipment and location from the Bartons, who were working towards establishing their own brewery, with many of the staffers working for both operations; some made Yards beer by day, while testing recipes for PBC by night. After five months, Kehoe had Yards products contract brewed at the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre until moving to his new location on Delaware Avenue.

The Bartons and McBride formally launched Philadelphia Brewing Company beers in 2008. The company brews five year-round beers, several seasonal beers and the occasional one-off recipe. It sources ingredients locally, does not use preservatives and operates as its own distributor. About 85% of PBC's sales are in the Philadelphia region with an additional 10 percent in the Pittsburgh area. The company's Pittsburgh offices are the former home of Duquesne Brewing Company, and they own a warehouse across the street from the offices that can be used for future expansion. Two of the company's most popular beers, Kenzinger and Walt Wit, are available on tap at Citizens Bank Park, the South Philadelphia baseball park where the Philadelphia Phillies play.

The Bartons remain active in the local community; the brewery hosts the monthly East Kensington Neighbors Association meetings, they sponsor the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival, and they invite volunteers to the brewery after frequent neighborhood cleanup days. They've also donated beer to the Fishtown Neighbors Association, the Orianna Hill dog park, the Music Fest at Liberty Lands Park and numerous other charitable causes. They brewed pink beer for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer awareness events, and they donated $10 from every keg to the foundation. They host Buy Fresh Buy Local events as well as corporate and political events.

In 2012, The Bartons and McBride launched Commonwealth Ciders and introduced their first cider, Traditional Dry.  Also in 2012, the brewery added nine new fermenters, a grain-out silo and a bright beer tank. In 2014, they became the first brewery in the country to accept the controversial cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin for retail and wholesale purchases. At the same time they worked on doubling their production capacity. The additional space allowed the company to expand its distribution beyond state borders to New Jersey, with plans for the New York and Delaware markets. In 2015, the brewery began collaborating with Opertech Bio to take a high-tech approach to evaluating its craft beer. Opertech Bio has developed a proprietary and patented technology - called the Microtiter Operant Gustometer (MOG) - that it bills as the first automated taste-testing system. At PCB they've trained a group of master brewers and employees to be able to detect off-tastes in beer at multiple steps in the brewing process.

Walt Wit is named after the famous American poet Walt Whitman, who once described a particular Philadelphia sunset as consisting of, "...a broad tumble of clouds, with much golden haze and profusion of beaming shaft and dazzle." Kind of like PBC's fragrant, satisfying take on the traditional Belgian white ale. Walt Wit's citrus and spice flavors deliver a transcendental drinking experience. It is brewed with only a whisper of hops and a hint of herbs to set off the flavor of white wheat and oats.

Ratebeer weighted average 2.95 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  79 out of 100 (okay)

Philadelphia Brewing Company
2439 Amber St.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19125

Source Material
Philadelphia Brewing website

Walt Whitman information courtesy of Wikipedia

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