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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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Friday, November 13, 2015

Tap Handle #537: Barrel Harbor

Tap size:  11"
Rarity:  Rare
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

This has to be one of the coolest taps released in the past year. Featuring a squid on a stack of barrels with an elongated skull, it reminds me a bit of H. P. Lovercraft's Cthulu work, which I am a big fan of. There are lots of great details here - the suckers on each of the squid's tentacles, the rope wrapped around the pier, the metal bands around the barrels (and the faux wood grain on those barrels), and the coral on the base with the gold star above it (I have no idea what the star signifies). On the thin platform beneath the barrels, decals all the way around indicate the brewery's name. There is no place to put a label for variety, so the tap is used for all of Barrel Harbor's beers (I chose to profile their highly regarded Brown Ale). At one time this tap was scarce and hard to get, but it has since moved to rare status and is more easily attainable.

Click through to read more about Barrel Harbor Brewing and to see more photos of this awesome and imaginative, yet creepy, tap...

Barrel Harbor Brewing was founded in Vista, California in 2012 by Tim St. Martin, Ron Neville, and two other partners. St. Martin was an avid home brewer for over 20 years. While stationed in West Germany, he took a liking to the Pilsners, Dunkels, Altbiers and Hefeweizens of the many local breweries on and around the Czechoslovakian border of West Germany in the 1980s. His duty station in West Germany was not far from the Kreuzberg, located in the Bavarian part of the Rhön. He celebrated the 250th Jahre anniversary of the klosterbrauerei with the monks who brewed there. Upon his return to Southern California, St. Martin found that the cost of the German imports he had fallen in love with was beyond his means. He discovered that he could brew his own authentic German replicates at a fraction of the cost. With his mechanical engineering degree and natural ability to experiment, he tried many different methods and styles, but always followed Reinheitsgebot (the German beer purity law).

As the craft brewing industry took off in Southern California, St. Martin found a new love for the righteously hopped San Diego distinct Imperial and Double IPAs. He joined up with other craft beer lovers to found Barrel Harbor Brewing. They wanted to bring something new to the San Diego beer scene, “new beers brewed in the old world style”. Barrel Harbor brews and releases a variety of IPAs (which are almost a requirement in San Diego), but offer many beers that are not easily found in the area. Their Pilsner is recognized as one of the best outside of Europe, and they additionally offer an Irish Red Ale, as well as seasonal releases of traditional Belgian Ales.

The brewery features 12 different beers on tap, and each Thursday they feature a different beer served on cask with a variety of infusions. They have offered casks such as the Fenris IPA conditioned with grapefruit zest, with habanero peppers, and even some blends which include the zest of “Cuties” and ginger. The Sirin Pale Ale is another house favorite, with different casks conditioned using lemon zest and even a release featuring Yerba Mate, an Argentine herbal energy drink. Inside the brewery are tables built from barrels, and board games are available to borrow. A few times a week they have catering and food trucks, and an occasional musician to provide ambiance. Growler fill ups are also available.

Barrel Harbor Brown Ale is made with American Honey malt, Crystal 60, Black Patent, Chocolate Malt with Brewers Gold, East Kent Golding hops, and a British top cropping yeast. The addition of Golding Hops and a British yeast results in a well-balanced beer that is drinkable yet robust in flavor, with nutty characteristics. It was a 2014 Silver Medal Winner at the California State Fair Craft Beer Competition, and a Bronze Medal Winner at the San Diego International Beer Festival.

Ratebeer weighted average:  2.87 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  No Score

Barrel Harbor Brewing
2575 Pioneer Ave, Ste 104
Vista, California 92081

Source Material
Barrel Harbor website

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