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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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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Tap Handle #510: Roots Organic Brewery

Tap size: 12.5"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting: internal 3/8" nut

Surfboard tap handles are a dime a dozen - I have more than a few myself - but when this one popped up, I decided to grab it because there was a Roots restaurant just a few blocks away from my workplace. However, when I stopped in to inquire about the tap handle, they had a good laugh, telling me that they were not affiliated with the Portland brewery. No matter, I thought...I'll just take a trip down to the brewery. Whoops - it turns out the brewery closed in 2010, a year before I even started the blog! This tap was a challenge to photograph, as the fin extends below the bottom of the surfboard, meaning it will not sit on a flat surface...I had to use a longer bolt to raise the board up and keep the fin from hitting my stage, which still put a good amount of tilt on it. The tap is made of real, lightweight wood...the stripe down the center is inlaid wood (not an easy process to make); the fin appears to have been attached separately, and the brewery label is a decal. There is no beer variety on the label; this tap was used for all beer varieties (I will be profiling their Epic Ale). I feel fortunate to have secured a tap from a well-respected brewery that has closed. The former owner, Craig Nicholls, was described by one blogger as a "surfer-looking dude", which explains a lot about the tap. Maybe I'll run into him someday at the North American Organic Brewers Festival in Portland (unfortunately I won't be able to make this year's festival, which starts August 13th, due to other commitments). I've only seen one other tap besides mine, so it is quite scarce.

Click through to read more about Roots Organic Brewery and to see more photos of this way cool tap, dude...

Roots Organic Brewery was founded in Portland, Oregon in 2005 by Craig Nicholls and Jason McAdam. Nicholls was the founding brewer at the Alameda Brewhouse in the 1990s, and was famous for alchemical brews that included roses, juniper branches, and sage. After years of moving around to different breweries, Nicholls established and organized the first North American Organic Brewers Festival (NAOBF) at Port Halling Brewing in Gresham, Oregon in 2003. The festival then took a two-year hiatus, during which Nicholls and McAdam focused on opening their brewery, which they located in the Southwest Portland Warehouse District. McAdam was a brewing veteran from McMenamins Brewpubs. Roots was the first all-organic brewery in Portland, and was known for its friendly atmosphere, local art shows, and its relaxed reggae vibe. But as the years passed, problems began to surface. One blogger claimed that at times the brewpub would be closed when it was supposed to be open; occasionally bottles of beer on the shelf were bad, and there were complaints of bad service in the brewpub.

In 2006, Nicholls resurrected the NAOBF at the World Forestry Center in southwest Portland (which has since moved to Overlook Park). In 2007 the brewery completed a minor expansion to allow them to triple their capacity. But in 2009, the two founders could not reconcile the different directions that each wanted to take the brewery. Nicholls bought out McAdam to take sole ownership. Not long after, Roots ceded its outside accounts because of distribution problems; those accounts were 60% of the pub's income, and a slump in the brewpub side (thanks in part to the recession) further hurt the business. A cold winter that saw sales drop even further was the final straw. Nicholls tried to sell the pub for several months, initially listed at an asking price of $450,000. Five different buyers in Portland and beyond showed interest, but even at a reduced price, none signed a deal.

In 2010 the brewery closed its doors for good. Nicholls retained the rights to the Roots name and beers, and said at the time that the beers might be contract-brewed and bottled in the future, to once again appear on grocer's shelves, but this never materialized. Nicholls still runs the NAOBF, while McAdam founded his own brewery that was initially called Alchemy, but later moved to a new location and changed its name to Burnside Brewing. The space that housed Roots became a winery and bar called La Boheme, which later changed its name to Vie de Boheme, becoming a European-styled venue with live music, wine tastings, full bar, wine shop/library, food, wine classes, dance lessons, and private event space. The Southwest Portland Warehouse District, which was a depressed area during the time when Roots closed down, has reinvented itself as a trendy area now known as Distillery Row.

Roots Organic Epic Ale was made by hand smoking 60 pounds of of malt over cherry wood soaked in glenlivet, cognac and cherry juice, that lended wonderful smoked toffee and cherry notes both to the palate and the nose and a warm bitter sweet finish. With over 1,700 pounds of malt and 65 pounds of hops, this was a truly epic ale. When Roots was still in business, Jeff Alworth of Beervana participated in some 5 year vertical tastings of Epic Ale and the varied results were fascinating (see the link section for more detail). And on a final note, how many beers can say they were launched by a rocket? Now that's epic!

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.71 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  no score

Since Roots Organic Brewery is no longer in business, no address or website is provided.

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