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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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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 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...

Coney Island Brewing Company was founded in Brooklyn, New York in 2007 by Jeremy Cowan as an offshoot of San Francisco’s Shmaltz Brewing Company. It operated out of "Sideshows by the Seashore", a freakshow whose owner, Dick Zigun, allowed the brewery to make its micro-micro-brews by the one-gallon batch in his building rent free. Within its 175 square foot space, brewery staff bottled its nano-batches of beer for sale to the public, including a Pumpernickel Bagel Porter and a Cotton Candy Wit Ale. At the time of its founding it was deemed the smallest brewery in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2012 the entire building, including the brewery, was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

In 2013, Cowan sold Coney Island Brewing to Alchemy & Science (A & S), the wholly owned subsidiary of the Boston Beer Company for a reported $2.9 million, including some of the brewery equipment and other assets. As part of the agreement, A & S contracted with Shmaltz to brew Coney Island Beers for two years at Shmaltz's Clifton Park location. Two beers were produced for bottling: Mermaid Pilsner (an original Coney Island brand), and Seas the Day India Pale Lager (IPL), a new offering. The two beers were distributed in bottles and also on draft throughout the metro New York area. A & S gave the brand an overhaul, dropping the freak show imagery and focusing on the amusement district as a whole.

In 2015 Coney Island Brewing opened a new brewing house the former home of a pizza shop next to the Brooklyn Cyclones' home stadium in the heart of Coney Island. The new space continues the small scale tradition at a mere 1,500 square feet. It houses a bar, a couple of tanks, a few kegs. a tasting room, and a retail shop where customers can buy growlers (and fill them). All of the brewery’s beers are mixed by hand and made by one resident brewmaster. Their spent grain is converted into animal feed and they reuse their yeast multiple times. The brewery also sources all of the honey for their honey stout ale from Betterbee Farm, a local bee farm in Greenwich, New York. Each corner of the brewery pays a little homage to Coney Island, from carousel-themed wallpapers and old black and white photos of the Island. Their logo includes the famous Wonder Wheel, the Parachute Jump and the Cyclone roller coaster. They currently have 7 different brews on tap at their facility, and also produce a Hard Root Beer, Hard Orange Cream Soda, and Hard Ginger Ale, which are distributed nationally and are brewed by Boston Beer Company. Tours of the brewery are offered as well.

Coney Island's Mermaid is a dry hopped American Rye Pilsner. Four spicy hops flow into seven golden malts. This crisp, light-bodied, hopped lager gets a mild spiciness from the rye malt. The flavor is balanced perfectly by a fruity, floral hop aroma.

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.13 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  83 out of 100 (good)

Coney Island Brewing Company
1904 Surf Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11224

Source Material

Parachute Jump info and photos courtesy of Wikipedia

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