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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, November 29, 2015

Tap Handle #544: Beer Army

Tap size:  12.25"
Rarity:  Rare
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

From the moment I first saw this tap I knew I had to have one. The military theme is amazingly well done - the main feature  is the shaft of the tap, which is modeled to represent a .50 caliber bullet. A huge dog tag is attached to the bullet on both the front and back, with a recessed area within the tags where a label can be placed, and beaded chain connects the two tags together. I have several labels (pictured to the right) but I have chosen to profile their Heroes Never Die IPA. At the very top of the tap is a small red eagle with a banner of four stars arcing above its wings, and the Beer Army's emblem, featuring a devil dog, appears on the front of the eagle like a shield. Down each side of the shaft, between the dog tags, the brewery's name appears as recessed letters. I love that copper-colored ferrule as well! The front and back are identical to each other, as are the two sides to each other, so I have only taken photos of one side. The tap is rare, although if you want one you can go to eBay and find it from seller rpandre2 for a very reasonable price. You'd be buying it directly from Beer Army, so a portion of the sales helps fund the Beer Army Foundation's scholarship program. Although the brewery is no longer in existence, I was able to talk to Scott Andrews, the Public Affairs Officer for Beer Army, and found out that they have survived by using contract brewing, as well as through their Outpost bar and their Burger Company. So buy a tap, and support a good cause and the Beer Army too, for as they say, "if you drink beer, you're in the Beer Army!"

Click through to read more about Beer Army, their Heroes Never Die IPA, and to see more photos of this always faithful tap...

Beer Army was founded in New Bern, North Carolina in 2008 by Dustin Canestorp. Canestorp was a Major in the Marines who served in Iraq, and as an avid beer enthusiast, he grew determined to pursue his dream in the beer business after losing his friend and fellow Marine, Captain Todd Siebert, in combat in 2007. After Canestorp's tour had ended and he returned home, he would get together with his friends monthly to play poker and drink his homebrew. He knew that his friends would be brutally honest on what they liked and disliked about his beer, which made him a better brewer. He started calling the group the "Beer Army". Canestorp decided to put Phase One of his plan into action, which involved creating an LLC and launching the Beer Army's website. He also started the Beer Army Foundation, a 501(c)(3) community outreach foundation in memory of Siebert. The first goal was to gauge local support by hosting a beer tasting festival. With no breweries in the local area, Canestorp was concerned that the area might not support craft beer, but Beer Army’s first festival in New Bern in 2010 was a huge success. The event gave Canestorp the support he needed, and he moved forward with another festival in Greenville.

In 2012, Phase Two of the plan was realized when Beer Army opened the Beer Army Outpost, a beer store and taproom just east of New Bern featuring 10 beer taps and more than 500 bottles. With the Outpost established, Canestorp focused on Phase Three: opening his own brewery. They began a crowdfunding campaign that also functioned as a brewery site contest - the site chosen was to be based on the number of donations received from each town in the local area. The town with the most donors, or “founding members,” was to be the brewery’s new home. The small town of Trenton, with a population of only 280, won the contest out of 26 possible locations. Trenton's support blew the Beer Army away, which included a unique 10,500 square foot facility that had a yeast lab and onsite fume hood, so that they were able to cultivate their own yeast inside the brewery.

After receiving more than $300,000 worth of building renovations provided by the Jones County Economic Development Commission, the brewery opened in 2013. It included a a public tap room where visitors could have a growler of beer and watch the brewing process. They had 4 year-round beers, as well as limited and seasonal varieties, and continued the Beer Army’s philanthropic efforts. That year they won a bronze medal for their Mild Ale at the U.S. Open Beer Championships (USOBC), and in 2014, they won five medals - four bronze and one silver - competing against 50 breweries in the Carolinas Championship of Beer (CCB). The purchase of a new bottling machine allowed the brewery to bottle its own beer, and combined with the medals won in the USOBC and the CCB, Canestorp's retirement from the Marines (which allowed him to focus solely on the brewery), and planned distribution in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Delaware, Beer Army seemed poised for great success.

It all fell apart in 2015, thanks to overbearing and inflexible laws in North Carolina and the way they affect the state’s three-tiered distribution system. A supplier cannot self-distribute, other than small amounts in their own brewpub. When a supplier places his brand with a distributor, the contract is unbreakable, and no other distributor is allowed to take up the brand. When Beer Army's distributor was unable to deliver on its promises, the brewery had no other options - without a way to distribute its beer, the brewery was forced to shut down, and five of their eight employees were laid off. Because the Beer Army Outpost bar and bottle shop was part of the Beer Army LLC, it appeared that it would be affected by the decision to close the brewery. However, the Outpost had proved to be a viable business with many loyal customers, and has been able to continue operating.

Beer Army shifted its focus to contract brewing for their Fire in the Hole Irish Red and Heroes Never Die IPA, which was served on tap in the Outpost. Soon after closing the brewery, Beer Army partnered with Bengel Hospitality and opened a new restaurant and pub in the former Ribeyes location in downtown New Bern. The new restaurant, called Beer Army Burger Company, serves a menu of burgers, sandwiches and salads, much of it made from fresh, North Carolina-sourced foods. In addition to 600 to 700 kinds of bottled beer, the new restaurant has 16 beer taps, offers wine and spirits, and has a retail area where customers can buy a variety of craft beers for off-premises consumption, as well as Beer Army branded merchandise. Bengel Hospitality, which operates three restaurants in the area, made alterations to the building, which was once a former bank, to support the new restaurant. The Beer Army website has also changed its focus from the former brewing operations to the new restaurant.

The Beer Army Foundation continues to work towards its vision of funding and awarding 50 scholarships to aspiring degree seeking students attending community college or state university, providing  500 volunteer opportunities for citizens to support their communities altruistically, and generating $500,000 of economic impact by the end of 2017.

Heroes Never Die is an American style India Pale Ale that is dry-hopped using nothing but Mosaic hops. This sessionable IPA features a very clear deep gold/copper to pale amber color, with an off white head and lace. It has a medium hop aroma that is very complex, featuring fruity and citrus characters like mango, lemon, earthy pine, tropical fruit, herbal and stone fruit notes. The flavor is medium maltiness that is biscuity, with some caramel present and citrus with medium hop bitterness. Carbination is low to medium with mouthfeel and body being the same. The finish is bittersweet. Heroes Never Die won the brewery's lone silver medal at the 2014 Carolinas Championship of Beer. For food pairings, this ale will make spicy foods hotter, and it will counterbalance foods that are very rich and sweet like desserts, caramelized meats, and fatty cheeses. A portion of sales goes to support the Museum of the Marine.

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.2 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  No Score

Beer Army
313 Pollock Street
 New Bern, NC 28560

Source Material
Beer Army website

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