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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, October 18, 2015

Tap Handle #528: Redhook - IPA (aka Ballard Bitter)

Tap size:  13.75"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

As you know if you follow this blog, I love Tiki-themed taps. I jumped at the chance to acquire this tap for the museum and I absolutely love it. I'm not sure whether it is made of wood or resin, but it is most likely resin made to look like wood. It's hard to say when this tap was made, as the recipe changed over the years and was eventually replaced with Long Hammer IPA. Redhook hasn't brewed their IPA/Ballard Bitter since some time in 2013, so that year may have been when the tap was used. It is very scarce - I've only seen two others, and one of the two was broken.

For more about Redhook, see this post.

Click through to read more about Redhook's IPA (aka Ballard Bitter) and to see more photos of this exotic tap...

Ballard Bitter arguably established the Redhook Ale Brewery upon its introduction in 1984. While Redhook had been producing the original Ale for roughly two years, and had introduced Blackhook Porter the prior summer, the brewery had just started turning a profit. Neither the original Ale nor the Porter could be considered flagship products with broad market appeal as we understand the economics of a microbrewery today. The Ale was famously estery and had developed a strong 'love it or hate it' following, while the Porter was a rather unique and assertive offering by 1983 standards. With the arrival of Ballard Bitter, Redhook had a beer which was both distinctive (for its day) and approachable for the non-initiated. Sales took off. By 1988, Redhook was moving out of Ballard and into the new Fremont brewery, due in large part to the success of Ballard Bitter (and the new Redhook ESB, which edged the original Ale out of the product line in 1987).

By 1995, things had changed somewhat. The stronger and more interesting ESB has long since edged out Ballard Bitter as Redhook's leading seller. Compared with the beers from newer Northwest breweries such as Pike Place or Rogue, Ballard Bitter bagan to garner a reputation as a bland product. Also, the name Ballard Bitter was originally chosen to reference the British Bitter category, as well as honoring the community in which the brewery was originally located. This name served the brewery well in Washington, but was not thoroughly understood outside of the region. As the craft beer appeal took in a wider range of beer drinkers, there was some fear at the brewery about the negative perception of the word 'bitter' being used in the name.

In a move which symbolized how far the industry had come (in both the offerings of the breweries and the expectations of the educated consumer), Redhook "reformulated" Ballard Bitter. The brewer fine tuned the mashing, added hops and increased the gravity, and the name was changed from Ballard Bitter to Redhook IPA. This new formulation ran until 2000 or 2001, when it was phased out and replaced by Long Hammer IPA. The brewery brings back the Ballard Bitter IPA from time to time, but it is the 1995 recipe, not the original 1984 recipe.

Redhook IPA aka Ballard Bitter is simply described as a lighter, drier ale with a warm, brassy color and herbal aroma.

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.06 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  no entry

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