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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, March 18, 2016

Tap Handle #583: Big Dawg Brewhaus (Noble Order)

Tap size:  11"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  standard 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

This Big Dawg tap is a bit simplistic and is essentially a "toy on a stick". It is, however, a faithful rendition of the artwork that was used by the brewery (see photo to right). It features a bulldog in red lederhosen holding a mug of beer.The base is three-sided, with Big Dawg stickers on each side. The value of this tap lies in its scarcity; used by the brewery during its smaller half-barrel production era, it was retired around 2013 when the brewery changed its name to Noble Order. Also, the ears are very fragile and are easily prone to chipping or breaking. This means that not only were very few made, when you factor in the name change/re-branding,  I expect few of these (if any) to ever appear on the secondary market.

Click through to read more about Big Dawg Brewhaus/Noble Order Brewing and to see more photos of this elusive tap...

Big Dawg Brewhaus was founded in Richmond, Indiana in 2011 by Jeff and Melody Haist and Mike Miller. Miller got into craft beer as a young man in the mid-1980s at Grateful Dead shows and discovered pale ale before it was popular. Later, as a long-time high school English teacher, he met Richard Shoyer, a local science teacher, and began brewing at Shoyer's home brewery in 2010. Meanwhile, Dr. Jeffrey Haist was a cardiologist who began his career as a winemaker in his basement. Haist was interested in learning more about the science of winemaking and began extensive studies, and he eventually obtained a degree in Vinology. He and his wife Melody purchased their property in 2008 and opened the tasting room in 2009. It quickly become a popular venue for locals, tourists, weddings, and their annual “Viking Festival,” with its lush gardens and water features. The Haists maintain a couple acres of vineyard and 600 plants and produce a quarter of the grapes that are used to produce their wines.

Miller met the Haists and had been assisting them with various tasks on their property. The Haists approached Miller with an idea to expand their production and open the state’s first combination winery and brewery facility. Miller retired from teaching, teamed up with the Haists and brought Shoyer on as their brewmaster. They set up the brewery on the property, with a building just for fermentation, and use the winery's tasting room for the brewery as well. The Haists oversaw all the brewing operations and marketing efforts, while Miller handled distribution, assisted with brewing and coordinated live music events. The beer lineup included a range of styles, such as a hoppy trippel IPA, a fruity raspberry wheat, and an imperial oatmeal stout. Additionally, a rotation of seasonal beers included creatively flavored offerings like cerveza amber with lime, a Christmas-themed chocolate peppermint stout, an Oktoberfest, a pumpkin-spiced ale, and a summer apricot IPA. The brewery started out producing 100 gallons of beer a week, making it available at local restaurants in Richmond and in their own tasting room.

In 2013, they expanded the half-barrel brewery into a 15-barrel brewery. With in increase in production capacity they started looking for a way to widen distribution. They teamed up with World Class Beer, a organize set up to assist small craft breweries with distribution, to extend the reach of their beer to much more of Indiana, with beers offered to regional stores, bars and restaurants. In addition to the distribution deal, they changed their name to Noble Order Brewing Company, undergoing an entire reinvention of everything from social media to tap handles and logos. The home-grown Big Dawg Brewhaus name was sidelined to avoid any possible future legal issues, especially since there is a Big Dog's Brewing Company in Las Vegas. The Noble Order name came from their affinity for Viking culture, evidenced by their Viking festival each year and their "as close as possible to authentic" Viking beer, Freya's Chosen, and was also appropriate because they use noble hops, a variety traditionally know for being low in bitterness and high in aroma. Their beers are divided into 3 sub-categories based on the three life paths one would have had in the Dark Ages: Peasant Class (Wheats, Kolsches, Pilsners), Religious Class (Belgians and Vint-Beers, and Warrior Class (Stouts and Scotch Ales). These classes were represented by the mash paddle, cross, and sword respectively on their new label designs. In addition to the flagships and other seasonal rotating beer, they produced three meads: Odin (Honey Still Mead), Fenrir (Blood Orange Mead), and Yggdrasil (Oak aged Mead).

Noble Order is one of only three Indiana breweries to have a lab, where it employs two chemists. The brewery and winery encompass many areas of study, from chemistry and biological sciences to marketing, and the Haists plan to embrace that by adding internships that will increase the workforce and provide students with hands-on experience. Other business opportunities have included creating specialty beers for the local roller blade team, the Dire Skates, and the local baseball team, the Richmond RiverRats. The winery and brewery have provided also products for special events for organizations such as Reid Hospital and Indiana University East.

A second 15-barrel brew house with a full bottling line was built in Zionsville, Indiana in 2016. That expansion allowed them to produce 8,000 to 10,000 barrels a year. They were looking to expand somewhere close to Indianapolis, and when they attended the Whitestown Brew Fest in 2015, they fell in love with the area. A meeting with the Boone County Economic Development division sealed the deal. The Zionsville taproom, which is slated to open in March 2016, will feature beers, meads and wines produced at their Richmond facility, and as a tribute to their expansion into Boone County, they will also feature 16-17 beers that they regularly have on tap. In addition, they will be introducing their “all Boone County” beers that are made with local ingredients from Sugar Creek Malt Company in Boone County. Their ultimate goal for their Zionsville location is to eventually expand the back area of the building and begin a “Home Brewers” Club. They would provide instruction and tips and share experiences with local hobbyists. They would also feature their members’ beers on tap. Additional plans include local, acoustic music at the new taproom, which will be open seven days a week.

Noble Order's flagship Blood Orange Wheat Ale is a strong German wheat beer with a copper color and a smooth refreshing taste of German Noble hops. With a hint of refreshing blood orange, the finish is a bit on the tart side.

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.11 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  no score

Noble Order Brewing Company
3407 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana 47374

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