AMAZING TAP HANDLES!!!

About This Site

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.

Copyright Legalities

Photos or tap descriptions used in this blog may not be misrepresented as your own. Photos may not be used for financial gain whatsoever, as the uniqueness of the photo would unfairly associate a seller's product and reputation with this site. Tap descriptions may be used word for word as long as this blog is cited as the source, and a link is provided to this site.

Brewery history may not be used for any reason without citing the blog post or original source from which it was taken, and providing a link to such.

Failure to follow the guidelines above is a violation of Copyright Law, which protects original works of ownership.

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tap Handle #576: Coors - Cowboy Boot

Tap size:  8.75" tall by 7.25" wide
Rarity:  Very Rare
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

I know very little about this tap. Obviously with a cowboy boot this was probably used in western-themed bars or restaurants - possible for a specific restaurant chain - but I don't know that for sure. Although on the small side, it makes up for that with the sheer amount of detail and authenticity - it looks like a real cowboy boot! From the sculpted stitches and different leather pieces, to the spur and the wear on the toe section, someone put a lot of work into this piece. From the toe to the spur is over 7" wide, making the tap almost as wide as it is tall, which could lead to mounting issues for some people. At one time these were very scarce and sold for over $300, but lately some have popped up on the secondary market and the price has dropped to less than half of the older, more scarce price.

For more about Coors, see this post.

Click through to see more photos of this kickin' tap...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Tap Handle #575: Charles Wells - Banana Bread Beer

Tap size:  11"
Rarity:  Very Rare
Mounting:  gold-colored 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

This is the resin version of the Wells Banana bread beer tap. The previous tap I posted about in profile #411 was a smaller metal version. This one looks like a banana that has been peeled back to reveal a glass of beer. A decal appears on the glass that displays the Wells Brewing logo, the beer variety, and a small likeness of the tap. The tap is very rare, since it is an import, and fluctuates in value, although when averaged out the price is fairly high.

For more about Charles Wells brewing and their Banana Bread Beer, see this post.

Click through to see more photos of this revealing tap...

Friday, February 26, 2016

Tap Handle #574: Stevens Point - Apricadabra Apricot Wheat Ale

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

This is the first tap in the collection that uses magic as a theme. Unlike most of the taps in the collection, this is not made of resin but is instead primarily an acrylic compound. A gloved hand at the bottom holds a wand that stretches up to an apricot at the top, where a Stevens Point decal is on the front of it. I'm not sure whether or not the tap is still in use; it is a seasonal, so it seems to be pretty scarce - I have only seen 4 others, although one of the 4 did have the top stem broken off. The price so far has been fairly affordable.

For more about Stevens Point Brewing, see this post.

Click through to read more about Stevens Point's Apricadabra Apricot Wheat Ale and to see more photos of this magical tap...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tap Handle #573: Sapporo - Stone Warrior

Tap size:  11.5"
Rarity:  Rare
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

Thematically this tap would look great next to another Sapporo tap, the Kitana I profiled back in post #222. It features a Kabuto (helmet) and Mempo (mask), which together form a Samurai's head armor. Both barley and hops have been integrated into the helmet and mask design; the Kabuto front crest and the Mempo goatee have the appearance of hops, while the mustache and sideburns on the Mempo are shaped like stalks of rye. Three partial "stone" Kitana blades form the base (note all the little impressions and pits that give authentic stone-like detail), and a sign in the front states the beer's name. Curiously, Sapporo's name does not appear anywhere on the tap. According to my friend Masaharu, the Japanese characters on the front are pronounced "Ishi No Senshi" ("ee-shee no sen-shee"), which means "Warrior of Stone". This tap has appeared more and more frequently since it was first released, dropping the price to very affordable levels.

For more about Sapporo, see this post.

Click through to read more about Sapporo's Stone Warrior Brown Ale and to see more photos of this legendary tap...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tap Handle #572: Coney Island (Shmaltz/Alchemy & Science/Boston Beer Company) - Mermaid Pilsner

Tap size:  14.5"
Rarity:  Rare
Mounting:  3/8" external hex nut

The beauty of this tap lies in its bright red paint and all-metal structure. Its design draws inspiration from the old Coney Island amusement ride, the Parachute Jump, and though it is not an architecturally accurate rendition, it certainly captures the look and feel of the antique structure. The tap comes in two sizes: this tall 14.5" version and a smaller 9.5" one. The label indicates the variety of beer, and this particular Mermaid label is quite rare...it was only used for a short time and then the brewery switched to a mostly text version (see image to right) for reasons unknown. The tap is not very hard to find, but finding the graphic Mermaid label is challenging. The price is very reasonable considering the metalwork that went into producing the tap.

The Parachute Jump is a defunct amusement ride in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, whose iconic open-frame steel structure remains a Brooklyn landmark, and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It is 250 feet tall and weighs 170 tons, and has been called the "Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn". It was originally built for the 1939 New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens. Stanley Switlik and George P. Putnam, Amelia Earhart's husband, had built a 115-foot-tall tower on Stanley's farm in Ocean County, New Jersey. Designed to train airmen in parachute jumping, the first public jump from the tower was made by Ms. Earhart in 1935. The Parachute Drop was then patented by Switlik and retired U.S. Naval Commander James H. Strong. Strong built several versions for the military before modifying a commercial building for amusement use, which was so successful that he built the World's Fair model. After the Fair ended, the Parachute Drop was moved to its current site, part of the Steeplechase Park amusement park, in 1941. It is the only portion of Steeplechase Park still standing today. The ride ceased operations in 1964, when the park shut down for good.

The ride was based on functional parachutes which were held open by metal rings throughout the ascent and descent. Twelve cantilevered steel arms sprout from the top of the tower, each of which supported a parachute attached to a lift rope and a set of surrounding guide cables. Riders were belted into a two-person canvas seat hanging below the closed chute, then hoisted to the top, where a release mechanism would drop them, the descent slowed only by the parachute. Shock absorbers at the bottom, consisting of pole-mounted springs, cushioned the landing.

Between 2002 and 2004, it was completely dismantled, cleaned, painted and restored, but remained inactive. A company was commissioned  to develop a lighting concept for the Parachute Jump, which took two years from inception to completion and involved the installation of 8000 LED lights. After an official lighting ceremony in July 2006, the Parachute Jump was slated to be lit year round using different color motifs to represent the seasons. However, this idea was scrapped when New York City started conserving electricity in the summer months, and it has not been lit regularly since.

Click through to read more about Coney Island Brewing Company, their Mermaid Pilsner, and to see more photos of this towering tap...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tap Handle #571: Big Ditch

Tap size:  13.75"
Rarity:  Very Rare
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

I really dig this tap. Big Ditch's shovel-shaped tap is wonderful in its simplicity, appearing as an antique shovel that represents a tool used to help construct the Erie Canal, back before heavy construction was available. Note the "dirt" stains applied to the blade of the shovel, most likely done through a sponge-painting technique. The name of the brewery appears on the "wooden" handle, which is actually resin made to look like wood. The tap is not variety specific and used for all of Big Ditch's varieties; it is pretty rare and hard to come by, meaning its secondary market price is high.

"Big Ditch" is the nickname given to the Eire Canal. The canal is part of the east-west, cross-state route of the New York State Canal System (formerly known as the New York State Barge Canal). Originally it ran about 363 miles from Albany, on the Hudson River to Buffalo, at Lake Erie. It was built to create a navigable water route from New York City and the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. First proposed in 1807, its construction began in 1817. The canal contains 36 locks and a total elevation differential of about 565 feet. It opened in 1825 and changed regional commerce and distribution, giving faster access to bulk goods. With an innovative lock system, the Erie Canal allowed ships to carry cargo across various canal depths. In a time when bulk goods were limited to pack animals, and there were no steamships or railways, water was the most cost-effective way to ship bulk goods. The canal was the first transportation system between the eastern seaboard (New York City) and the western interior (Great Lakes) of the United States that did not require portage. It was faster than carts pulled by draft animals, and cut transport costs by about 95%.

In 2000, the United States Congress designated the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor to recognize the national significance of the canal system as the most successful and influential human-built waterway and one of the most important works of civil engineering and construction in North America. Mainly used by recreational watercraft since the retirement of the last large commercial ship in 1994, the canal saw a recovery in commercial traffic in 2008.

Click through to read more about Big Ditch Brewing Company and to see more photos of this hard-working tap...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tap Handle #570: Jonas Bronck's Beer Company - Kingsbridge Kolsch

Tap size:  10.5"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

This tap was broken, beat up, and abused. Fortunately, instead of sending it to the scrap heap, someone had the wisdom to see that the tap still had value and I was able to acquire it. Kelly, the Museum's Restoration Expert, worked his magic and gave the tap new life - he rebuilt the broken pieces, filled in the chips, and repainted the entire tap. His work never ceases to amaze me. In examining the tap, I assume that the man sitting on the barrel is supposed to be Jonas Bronck himself, the 17th century Dutch settler whose land later became the Bronx in New York. He holds a metal mug with the initial "JB" on it. The wood grain on the barrel, creases on the boots and buttons on the shirt all speak to an impressive level of detail. The rectangular base is recessed in the center with a piece of metal attached to it; the label is a magnet and is easily exchanged for another if desired. The brewery actually contracts the brewing of their beer through another brewery and does not have a physical location, meaning this tap is one of the most scarce I've seen. In addition, Kingsbridge Kolsch is not one of their 2 core beers, so its availability was very limited, making the label scarce as well.

Jonas Bronck (died 1643) was a Dutch immigrant who owned over 500 acres of land in the colony of New Netherland in America. Although he only owned the land for 4 years before his death, it became known as Broncksland as it passed hands from settler to settler. Over the years the nearby river became known as the Bronx River as the spelling was misspelled or simplified, and by extension, the county and New York City borough also assumed that same name.

Click through to read more about Jonas Bronck's Beer Comapny and to see more photos of this elusive tap...

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Tap Handle #569: Kona - Lilikoi Wheat Ale

Tap size:  11.25"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

The Kona Lilikoi Wheat tap is made of wood and shaped to resemble a propulsion paddle made of Koa on an Hawaiian outrigger canoe. The brewery symbol and "Lilikoi Wheat Ale" appear to be pressed into the surface and painted. It's possible this is woodburned rather than pressed, but I can't say for sure. Normally I would not have pursued this tap on its own, but since it arrived with the Primo King Kamehameha tap, it is now part of the collection. This ale was a year round offering up until 2010, which dates the tap to sometime between then and the mid-1990s, when it was first brewed. The recipe was changed slightly to accommodate bottling, and it moved to a summer seasonal in 2011, re-branded as Wailua Wheat. As a result, it is very scarce; I don't recall seeing another.

For more about Lilikoi Wheat as the re-branded Wailua Wheat, see this post.

For more about Kona, see this post.

Click through to see more photos of this tap...

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Tap Handle #568: Hawaii Brewing/Schlitz (Pabst) - Primo King Kamehameha Bust

Tap size:  10.25"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

This tap handle is actually a bust of the Hawaiian King Kamehameha, the first of the royal family of Hawaii. His image appears on most of Primo's logos. Although it appears as if the blue paint on the helmet has been rubbed away to show a golden color underneath, this is by design - every tap was made this way to impart an aged look. The tap itself is very light, made of molded plastic, but the gold colored band is unique, which I believe is made of thin metal due to the reflective properties. The word "Primo" appears on the front and back, and also features multiple colors. Like the Primo tiki I posted about in profile# 488, this tap was very high on my wishlist back when I started this site up, and it took me quite some time to acquire it. It is actually newer than the tiki, with a copyright date of 1974 belonging to "Hawaiian Brewing Co., Honolulu, Hawaii". To steal a phrase from my Primo tiki post: "this dates the tap to the Schlitz ownership days, at the height of Primo's popularity and before the brewery in Hawaii was closed." The Kamehameha bust tap is scarce; in fact, in all the time I've been acquiring taps, this is one of only ten that I've ever seen. This scarcity is also why it took me so long to acquire one, as the price has risen over the years. A newer version has been produced by Pabst, but is very small and has a "toy on a stick" feel; it pales in comparison to this one, in my opinion.

Kamehameha I (1758 - 1819), also known as Kamehameha the Great, was born at Kokoiki in North Kohala on the island of Hawai`i. One Hawaiian prophecy foretold that a light in the sky with feathers like a bird would signal the birth of a great chief. Historians believe Kamehameha was born in 1758, the year Halley’s comet passed over Hawai'i. Kamehameha was descended from chiefs of Hawai`i and Maui. As a young man, he distinguished himself as a talented warrior and served his uncle Kalaniopu`u, ruler of several districts on the island. Kamehameha's legendary strength was proven when, at the age of 14, he overturned the Naha Stone, which reportedly weighed between 2.5 and 3.5 tons. You can still see the Naha Stone today in Hilo. This fulfilled a second prophecy that whoever was able to move the Naha Stone would become the greatest king in Hawai'i. As part of Kalaniopu`u's retinue, Kamehameha met Captain Cook on Maui and was wounded in the scuffle that resulted in Cook's death at Kealakekua Bay.

Following the death of Kalaniopu`u in 1782, civil war broke out over control of the districts and resources of Hawai`i island. Kamehameha eventually vanquished his primary rival and cousin Keoua at Pu`ukohola. Having gained control of his home island, Kamehameha turned to the other Hawaiian islands. A keen battle strategist who used weaponry purchased from American and European traders, the king conquered Maui and Molokai, then turned his attention to Oahu. In 1795, Kamehameha invaded the shores of Waikiki beach and led his army to Nuuanu, where a bloody battle with Oahu chief Kalanikupule ensued. Hundreds of Oahu’s warriors were killed, driven over the valley’s Pali cliffs. In 1810, Kaumualii, the king of Kauai, peacefully surrendered his island to Kamehameha to avoid further bloodshed. With that, Kamehameha fulfilled his destiny of uniting all the Hawaiian islands under one rule.

Throughout his reign, Kamehameha upheld the tenets of traditional religion in the face of new cultural influences. Although he cultivated friendships and alliances with Westerners who could help maintain his status - like John Young and Isaac Davis who shared their weapons expertise - he tightly controlled Western business and political contacts with Hawaiians. Kamehameha and his chiefs supplied visiting ships with provisions during the fur trade and cut cargo-holds of sandalwood to pay for Western goods. Kamehameha’s unification of Hawai'i was significant not only because it was an incredible feat, but also because under separate rule, the Islands may have been torn apart by competing western interests. Today, four commissioned statues stand to honor King Kamehameha’s memory. Every June 11th, on Kamehameha Day, each of these statues are ceremoniously draped with flower lei to celebrate Hawaii’s greatest king.

Source material for Kamehameha courtesy of HawaiiHistory.orggohawaii.com, and aloha-hawaii.com.

For more about Primo, see this post.

Click through to see more photos of this iconic tap...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tap Handle #567: Captain Morgan - Original Spiced Rum

Tap size:  11.75"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

The Captain Morgan tap dates back to the period when Seagrams owned the brand. Featuring the iconic image created by artist Don Maitz, this bust of the Captain sits on a stone base (or should I say resin made to look like stone). The Captain is holding a barrel, and just below is a sign with sculpted letters that reads "Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum". On the back are the letters S and C and the year "'03". This tap was made for a distributor in St. Louis called Major Brands; it was a commissioned piece and very few were ever made. I've only seen two others, and the price was very high for both.

Sir Henry Morgan (1635 - 1688) was a British privateer, buccaneer, and admiral of the Royal Navy. Morgan came to Jamaica in 1658 as a young man, and raised himself to fame and fortune by his valor. In late 1665 Morgan commanded a ship in the old privateer Edward Mansfield's expedition sent by Sir Thomas Modyford, the Governor of Jamaica. They seized the islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina Island, Colombia. When Mansfield was captured by the Spanish and executed shortly afterward, the privateers elected Morgan as their admiral. Morgan's exploits soon became legendary, as he looted Spanish settlements and ships despite orders not to antagonize the Spanish, who the English were at peace with. However, the Governor of Jamaica handed several commissions to Morgan in an attempt to gain wealth and power while ignoring the Crown. Morgan proved to be adept, heroic and cunning, winning battles in Cuba, Panama, Venezuela, and on the high seas. In one case he found a slow-burning explosive trap waiting for him and his crew in an abandoned fortress; Morgan  snatched away the lit match near the powder train saving himself and his men. In another case he and his men hollowed out logs, filled them with explosives, put them in a boat and dressed them to look like a pirate crew. The twelve men who manned the ship were instructed to throw grappling hooks into the rigging of a Spanish ship so that it couldn’t sail away; the plan worked and the Spanish ship was destroyed.

After the sack of Panama City, which violated the 1670 peace treaty between England and Spain, Morgan was arrested and conducted to the Kingdom of England in 1672. He proved he had no knowledge of the treaty. When Spanish and English relations deteriorated, Morgan was knighted in 1674 before returning to Jamaica the following year to take up the post of Lieutenant Governor. By 1681, Governor Morgan had fallen out of favor with King Charles II, and was replaced by a long-time political rival. He gained considerable weight and a reputation for rowdy drunkenness. An account of Morgan's disreputable exploits was published by Alexandre Exquemelin, who once had been his confidante. Morgan took steps to discredit the book and successfully brought a libel suit against the book's publishers, securing a retraction and damages of two hundred English pounds. The book nonetheless contributed much to Morgan's reputed fame as a bloodthirsty pirate. Soon afterward he was diagnosed with "dropsie", but may have contracted tuberculosis in London, and died in 1688. He was buried in Palisadoes cemetery, which sank beneath the sea after an earthquake in 1692.

Click through to read more about Captain Morgan and the brand's Original Spiced Rum, and to see more photos of this dashing tap...

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Walk Through Hopworks Urban Brewery




A little over a year ago my friend Kelly & I made the 20 minute drive from work to Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) to pick up an Abominable Winter Ale tap handle. Click through to read more about our trek to HUB...

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Tap Handle #566: Hopworks Urban Brewery - Abominable Winter Ale

Tap size:  10.25"
Rarity:  Rare
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

This is the first of a two-part post profiling Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB): this first part is a profile of the tap and brewery; the second part will be a short write-up about my visit to the brewery a little over a year ago. On to the tap handle...it is brightly and boldly colored, with the head of the Abominable making up the top half, the HUB symbol smack in the center, and a shaft at the bottom that has the Abominable's claws wrapped around it. At the very bottom is a decal that says "ARR-R-GANIC". There is another decal inside the mouth proclaiming the name of the ale in a font that fits the design perfectly. The front and back are nearly the same, except for the position of the claws on the base, so I took a full range of photos to capture the slight differences. The overall impact is that the tap definitely stands out when placed next to others. It is rare, but still fairly easy to find and affordable. This is one of only a few taps that I have been able to walk into a brewery and purchase over-the-counter; Portland breweries definitely need to offer up better tap handles.

Click through to read more about Hopworks Urban Ale, their Abominable Winter Ale, and to see more photos of this outstanding tap...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tap Handle #565: Tampa Bay Brewing - Reef Donkey American Pale Ale

Tap size:  10.25"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

Reef Donkey differs quite a bit in appearance from the previous TBBC taps I have profiled such as Jack the Quaffer or Moose Killer. Although the brewery logo at the top remains standard, and an animal is front and center, the beer name appears close to the top of the tap rather than at the bottom, and it features a bas relief seascape backdrop that goes all the way to the bottom, instead of a brick backdrop and a barrel at the base. The colors are bright and beautiful, and there are loads of little details in the backdrop. This tap was released later than the others I've profiled, which is why it appears so far apart from the previous entries. Another feature that makes it similar to the previous styles is the double-sided appearance, with front and back being identical to each other and the two sides also identical to each other. It is probably the most scarce of the TBBC taps and also the most expensive.

Reef Donkey is slang for the Greater Amberjack gamefish, the largest of the jacks. They usually have dark stripes extending from nose to in front of their dorsal fins and are about 40 pounds or less. They are typically found near rocky reefs, debris, and wrecks in both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.

For more about Tampa Bay Brewing, see this post.

Click through to read more about Tampa Bay Brewing's Reef Donkey American Pale Ale and to see more photos of this colorful tap...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tap Handle #564: Brau Brothers - Old No. 56 Light

Tap size:  9.75"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut


I've acquired more than a few industrial or steampunk themed taps, which is what made this Brau Brothers tap handle appealing to me, as the copper tank design has a very industrial feel. One thing I love about these kinds of taps is the amount of sculpting detail work that goes them, because usually the artist takes the time to sculpt rivets, bands, handles, fittings, and other elements, which is the case here as well. It is actually a good likeness of the brewery's copper-clad finishing vessels (see photo top right). By the look of it, you would expect the tap to be heavy, and it would be - if it was made out of metal; however, it is actually made of a lightweight resin, making the tap almost weightless. This tap is very scarce...I have only seen one another. It's possible it was only used for promotional purposes, as the only photo I've seen of one was at a beer release party on the brewery's Facebook page. Despite the simpler tap design they now use, the ambiance of the tap room is special - the taps that dispense beer are attached to an old fire truck parked inside of the taproom (see photo bottom right). Very cool!


Click through to read more about Brau Brothers Brewing, their Old No. 56 Light beer, and to see more photos of this industrious tap...