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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, May 10, 2016

Tap Handle #603: Heileman - Grenadier Red

Tap size:  8.5"
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

The rarest Grenadier - an Oktoberfest label and letter
As I've stated in previous posts, most of the time the origin and history of a tap handle are steeped in mystery, with very little information available. The Grenadier tap is a rare exception to this norm. In 1909, G. Heileman Brewing introduced a patent for Grenadier beer. After Prohibition ended, the Grenadier image became an advertising character for Heileman's Old Style brand, as you can see in this Youtube video. In 1995, after struggling to survive bankruptcy, Heileman launched the Grenadier premium brand of beer, which included Grenadier Red (at a time when red beer was hot marketing gimmick) and Oktoberfest. To promote this premium brand, Heileman commissioned 600 of these tap handles to be made, sculpted by artist Ferdinand Rebechini, who signed the first casting used for the mold, and thus his signature appears on the back of every tap. The taps were all individually numbered, which is stamped under Rebechini's signature. Each tap was originally distributed in a burgundy colored felt bag, with an accompanying letter and a box, with the box numbered to match the tap. Unfortunately I don't have the bag, box, or letter...if I ever get the letter I will update this post with a copy of it. Despite its smaller size, the solid pewter casting makes it quite heavy - 1 pound, 4 ounces to be exact. It reminds me of a large version of the old Dungeons and Dragons game miniatures from the 1980s made by, oddly enough, a company called Grenadier. I've included a photo of the bottom of the tap to show how unusual the mounting area looks. The tap has appeared with varying frequency on the secondary market over the years as people liquidated old stock or found one in a chance discovery. Most taps do include the bag or the box, but the letter is very rare, as is a tap with the Oktoberfest label. Due to the durability of the metal casting that resists breakage and the fact that 600 exist, I imagine this will continue to pop up from time to time, and the price has dropped greatly from the premium it once commanded.

Ferdinand Rebechini was a veteran of the U.S. Army and served with the 30th Infantry Division during World War II. A well known metal sculptor, he was the owner of Rebechini Studios in Elk Grove Village in Chicago. His diverse works include abstract figures, a scene of man in a spacesuit on the moon, and a 16" statue of Michael Jordan. He passed away in 2003, only 8 years after the Grenadier tap handle was produced.

For more about G Heileman Brewing, see this post.

Unlike the tap, I can't find any information on Grenadier Red beer and there is no entry on Ratebeer or Beer Advocate. Stroh retired the brand in 2006 when they bought Heileman, so it was only in existence for a little over one year.

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

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