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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, April 12, 2016

Tap Handle #592: North Country - Paleo IPA

Tap size:  12.25"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

North Country's Paleo IPA tap differs from the gnome and elf fantasy theme found in the brewery through wood carvings, their other tap designs, and their website. Instead, this tap pays homage to owner Bob McCafferty's previous occupation as an archaeologist, with the main features being an archaeologist's trowel and a shaped piece of polished stone, displaying the name of the beer in a blocky, almost cartoonish font that is meant to appear primitive yet colorful. The brewery's name resembles a stamp on the surface of the trowel. The surface of the trowel is highly reflective, so when it is turned directly towards or away from a light source, it turns dark in my photos. The rest of the tap looks like a column of stone with stick figure cave paintings on the bottom. The detail in the stone sculpting, and the colors used to paint it, are exceptional, and the trowel looks real. The front and back of the tap are reverse images of each other, so I took a full range of photos to show the different profiles that the tap displays. This is yet another tap recently profiled that I would classify as scarce, since I have only seen about three others. Thanks to the great visual appeal of the tap, as well as the scarcity, I expect the price to stay well over $100 on the secondary market.

Click through to read more about North Country Brewing, their Paleo IPA, and to see more photos of this revealing tap...

North Country Brewing Company was founded in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania in 2005 by Jodi and Bob McCafferty. Bob had worked as a bartender in college, earned a degree in environmental geoscience from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and became interested in the science behind brewing beer. He also worked as an archaeologist on the East Coast and throughout the mid-Atlantic. He had met Jodi when both of them had worked at The Harmony Inn, a local tavern that was the county's oldest (in operation since 1856). The couple had been married for 13 years when they were drawn to an old storefront on a building that had originally been constructed by Peter Uber as a house and barn around 1805, and converted to an inn by 1835. In 1850, Uber added the existing storefront to the original house, deconstructing the barn for building material. At some point the Ubers left the innkeeping business, turning instead to cabinet making and coffin making. The coffin making was so profitable, the business morphed into a funeral home. The building was enlarged to its present size somewhere around 1920. Elton North Uber carried on the family tradition until his retirement in 1974. Edward Uber converted the building to a furniture store for twenty more years.

 In the spring of 1998, the McCaffertys bought the building and immediately started renovating, due to the poor condition of the structure, that looked ready to fall down. They personally rebuilt the structure from the foundation through the roof, with gathered local hardwoods and recycled on-site materials. They handcrafted the hardwoods, as well as black walnut and curly maple left over from the Uber’s furniture store. The rustic beams from the 1835 barn still remain in place to this day. Throughout the entire facility, you can find hidden faces, gnomes, fairies and even a very hard to find howling dog secretly carved into the woodwork. The McCaffertys opened the doors to North Country Brewing Company in 2005. Over the years, their brewpub has featured over 120 different types of beers, ranging from traditional reds and stouts to more outlandish and experimental brews such as bacon-flavored beers and chai tea infused ales.

As demand for their product increased rapidly, the McCaffertys bought three, neighboring empty buildings and a vacant lot with plans to expand their brewing operations; however, state liquor laws at that time prohibited off-site brewing, so they tabled the expansion. Plans changed again in 2011 when the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board decided to allow off-site brewing. The McCaffertys adapted by leasing a nearby, 9300 square foot warehouse, and in 2013 opened the facility under the name of North Country Canning Company. Some kinks had to be worked out, since much of the equipment was purchased secondhand; some of it came from an Iowa brewery that went out of business, and other parts that came from Quebec needed rebuilt. Since its inception, the production facility has shipped beer to every county in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and will soon offer its wares in Florida. Later in 2013, the McCaffertys found themselves at a crossroad: The Harmony Inn, where Bob and Jodi had once worked and had first met, was up for sale. They could not pass on the opportunity, so they purchased the inn and took it under the North Country umbrella, re-opening it in 2014 with 30 taps. North Country contracted with Big Rail Brewing, a nanobrewery, to produce two rotational beers in the Harmony Inn's basement. The menu is German-based, reflecting the local heritage of the Harmonist Society which founded the town in the 1830s, and the Mennonites, who later moved into the area and built the inn. However, the inn also serves American and Mexican dishes as well.

The brewery has locally sourced ingredients for their scratch kitchen since they opened in 2005. Most of those ingredients came from the couple’s own farming initiatives. The McCaffertys rented two separate farms after the brewpub opened, and eventually purchased their own farm, North Country Harvesting. In the early days, The McCaffertys composted all of the restaurant’s plate scraps on the farm and turned the kitchen prep waste into fertilizer. When North Country Harvesting opened, the couple moved beyond just growing produce and began to raise Tamworth pigs, Leicester long wools, Bourbon Red turkeys, Khaki Campbell ducks, and Ameraucana chickens. All of which not only appear on the brewpub’s menu, but also help relieve brewpub waste. The cattle eat all of their spent grains, and the pigs now take care of all the kitchen prep waste. North Country’s beers are also inspired by the local farm movement. Their Lavender Abbey Ale is laced with lavender flowers from North Country Harvesting, the McCaffertys handpick blueberries for the Blueberry Sour Beer, they harvest Scottish Heather for the Heather Ale, and they collect maple syrup for the Copper Kettle Ale. They also grow 10 varieties of hops.

North Country's annual Brewfests have raised over $50,000 for Slippery Rock Development, which have helped maintain Slippery Rock’s appearance and upkeep. “Polish the Rock” is a yearly community clean-up day in which local business owners and residents clean Main Street. Their Station 33 Firehouse Red donates part of the proceeds sold to the Slippery Rock Volunteer Fire Co. In 2015, sales of a new beer called Ryeparian Rye Pale Ale supported the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s stream bank tree planting initiative. The launch of the beer was celebrated by the brewery in the form of a happy hour fundraiser on Earth Day. Proceeds from the event, and five percent of Ryeparian Rye Pale Ale sales from across Pennsylvania and portions of Ohio, went to the Conservancy’s stream bank, or riparian, tree plantings in key natural areas in Western Pennsylvania. Riparian zones are the land adjacent to a stream or river. Maintaining healthy vegetative cover with trees and shrubs along these areas is one of the most effective ways of limiting sediment runoff and other soil disturbances that cause water pollution.

North Country's Paleo is an IPA brewed and dry-hopped in the English tradition, giving the beer a very aromatic quality.

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.22 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  82 out of 100 (good)

North Country Brewing Company
141 South Main Street
Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania 16057

Source Material
North Country website

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