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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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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tap Handle #578: Fox and Hound (Anheuser Busch) - Red Fox Amber Ale

Tap size:  10.5"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

The Red Fox Amber Ale tap represents a house beer made exclusively for the Fox & Hound pub chain by Anheuser-Busch. It features a cartoonish fox sitting between a couple of pillows. In one paw the fox holds a feather quill and a scroll; in the other paw a tall glass of beer is being raised. Behind the fox is a bushy hop plant. The base is a gold metallic color with a clear decal front and back sporting the name "Red Fox" in red letters. At the bottom is a white label encircling the base that reads "Amber Ale" on the front side of the tap only. Like most taps made for a restaurant or pub by a brewery, Red Fox was a limited production run, and although the beer is still in use, this version has not been used for some time. A brief flurry of these hit the secondary market last year, and since then the supply has dried up, with this tap being one of only eight that I have seen. The price was once very affordable, but has skyrocketed as the supply has dwindled.

Click through to read more about the Fox and Hound restaurant chain, and to see more photos of this whimsical tap...

Fox and Hound was founded in Arlington, Texas in 1994 by Steve Hartnett and Mark Lee. Both men had backgrounds in restaurant management. Hartnett (a distant uncle to actor Josh Hartnett) had originally run pubs geared to college students, then worked as a stock trader and money manager. When the real estate market had crashed in the late '80s, banks began auctioning off properties nobody wanted for low prices. Hartnett took advantage of the opportunity and bought several properties. He also developed an intense interest in billiards which led him to meet Lee, a former restaurant manager who shared Hartnett's passion for the game. Together, the two men decided to open an upscale pool hall and pub. They styled their new bar/restaurant to resemble an English pub, naming it Fox and Hound English Pub and Grille. The first Fox and Hound opened in 1994 in a shopping mall in Arlington, Texas, and almost immediately two more locations were added in College Station, Texas, and Dallas, Texas.

In late 1996, Hartnett was approached by Jamie Coulter, a well-known restaurateur based in Wichita, Kansas. Coulter owned a string of Pizza Hut franchises and was the CEO and Chairman of the Lone Star Steakhouse chain. Coulter purchased the three Fox and Hound pubs for $5 million in cash and $20 million in IPO stock. Coulter's next move was to acquire the Bailey's chain in 1997, creating Total Entertainment Restaurant Corp. to serve as a parent company to both acquisitions. In 1997, the company made an initial public offering of two million shares. The IPO generated approximately $19.5 million. Later that year the company opened a fourth Fox and Hound in Memphis, Tennessee, and then two more were launched in Chicago, Illinois and Omaha, Nebraska.

In 1998 the company spent the new year in a whirlwind of growth, opening 12 new Fox and Hound sites. The expansion dramatically broadened the chain's geographic presence, adding locations in Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. The company also opened three additional Bailey's locations. By the end of 1998, Total Entertainment operated 32 restaurants, which increased the company's sales and income significantly. In 1999, Coulter resigned from his position as chairman of the board to focus his attention on his Lone Star Steakhouse chain. Hartnett and Dennis Thompson became co-chairs of Total Entertainment. With the changes in leadership, the company's headquarters moved from Dallas to Wichita, Kansas.

Under Hartnett's and Thompson's guidance, Total Entertainment suspended its focus on new unit development, instead implementing a range of measures to make their operation run more efficiently and more profitably. By the end of 2000, the company once again began to grow at a much more conservative pace, opening new units in Parma, Ohio, Dearborn, Michigan, and Lewisville, Texas. In 2001, it opened restaurants in Denver, Colorado, and Phoenix, Arizona, which blossomed into opening about seven new locations per year for the next few years. In 2007 Fox & Hound Restaurant Group acquired Champps Entertainment for $74.8 million. At the time, Champps owned and operated 49 restaurants, as well as 12 other franchises and licenses.

In 2013, F&H Acquisition Corp., the parent company of Fox and Hound, turned its focus to creating advertising campaigns and cost cutting, as rising food and labor costs were severely hurting the chain. The company struggled to meet debt service obligations, and defaulted on lending deals that require it to meet certain targets. F&H was able to negotiate a forbearance with its lenders, but then it defaulted on those agreements, too. Ultimately, the company decided it needed to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The restaurants were to remain open as the company restructured its finances, although some locations were closed for "other reasons", such as expiring leases or poor sales. After restructuring its finances, the company emerged from bankruptcy with some success and is still currently in operation.

Hartnett, who had co-founded Fox and Hound and had helped guide it through a period of growth and profitability, passed away in 2011 after a three-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 61.

Red Fox Amber Ale is made by Anheuser-Busch exclusively for Fox and Hound. The ale has an amber color, with a malt aroma that has a subtle fruit in the background, and a moderately fruity taste with a hoppy finish and a mild bitter kick.

Ratebeer weighted average:  2.47 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  72 out of 100 (okay)

Source Material
Fox and Hound website

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