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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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Monday, July 18, 2016

Tap Handle #623: Southern Star - Bombshell Blonde

Tap size:  12"
Rarity:  50 or less seen
Mounting:  large 3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

Bomb-themed taps are becoming quite popular, with Rivertown's Hop Bomber and Sierra Nevada's Torpedo already appearing on the site. This is the third "bomb" to appear here, and it's a beauty, with a highly reflective silver paint job and a great "nose art" decal that features a woman riding a bomb, along with the name of the brewery and the beer variety. The ferrule is painted silver to match the rest of the tap. The Southern Star Bombshell Blonde tap is actually based on an earlier design produced by the brewery (see photo to right) which was made of metal; the brewery told me they discontinued the earlier version due to the high production costs involved. The front and back of the newer tap are identical to each other, as are the two sides to each other, so I have reduced the number of photos taken. This tap is very reasonably priced and easy to find.

Click through to read more about Southern Star Brewing, their Bombshell Blonde Ale, and to see more photos of this explosive tap...

Southern Star Brewing Company was founded in Conroe, Texas in 2007 by Dave Fougeron and Brian Hutchins. Fougeron, a long-time homebrewer, was the head brewer at St. Arnold when he met Hutchins playing Frisbee golf. Hutchins was also into homebrewing, and the two men decided to open their own brewery. They leased a pre-fab building with open rafters on a farm about an hour's drive from Houston. Starting production in 2008, their first beer was Pine Belt Pale Ale, followed shortly after by Bombshell Blonde and Buried Hatchet Stout. They decided early on to can their beers rather than bottle them, since they could only afford to do one or the other, and cans had a longer shelf life and were easier to take outdoors. The cans were initially distributed to local grocery stores such as Central Market, Whole Foods and Spec's. They also offered samples in their tasting room (which was not air conditioned) and tours of the brewery. A group of guys called the Outlaw Kookers set up outside the brewery on tour days and sold barbecued sandwiches and sausage. Southern Star tried to be a green company, but the brewery's rural location made recycling difficult. Fortunately the area water was so good it did not need to be treated.

In 2009, Southern Star introduced an annual competition for homebrewers. The first year's winning style was a saison; the winning style for 2010 was a smoked porter. In 2011 the winner's beer received such fanfare, the brewery put it into production as Valkyrie. The brewery's seasonals, such as Le Mort Vivant and Walloon, were based on beer styles that were all but extinct, and portions of the proceeds from their Red Cockaded benefit an endangered woodpecker native to the region. In 2012 Fougeron began to commit to expansion by purchasing a 13½-acre site for about $375,000 across the street from the current brewery. However, expansion plans were temporarily put on hold in part because of a sharp increase in out-of-state competition after the state was ordered to relax restrictions on how beer is labeled. After two years of analyzing the market, the brewery proceeded with expansion.

In 2014 they began clearing the land at their new site for a $5 million brewery in order to expand capacity, attract more visitors for tours, and feature special events. At the time, their current facility was at a maximum capacity of 13,000 barrels, and the lease was expiring in 2015. Despite adding multiple fermentation tanks and doubled its physical footprint, capacity was bursting at the seams. The new building was initially to be 20,000 square feet, but changed instead to 38,000 square feet. This would allow the brewery to quadruple production, moving from a 15 BBL system to a 60 BBL system. It also included an upstairs area for offices and an air-conditioned, 3,000 square foot tap room twice the size of the current one. The property came with a two-story house and two garages. One garage was used as a storage room for barrel-aged beers, and the house may eventually be developed into a bed-and-breakfast. Future plans for the new brewery include the addition of a fenced-in dog park, disc golf course, and outdoor beer garden.

In early 2016 the brewery moved operations into the new facility, with plans to introduce 5-6 new beers by the end of the year and to revamp their seasonal lineup. They also plan to continue their One-Off Art Series, which features a can designed by a local artist and a specialty one-off beer. In addition, the brewery features a Taproom Series, which is a line of draught-only beers that are only available for a limited time. The brewery distributes in Texas, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and South Carolina.

Bombshell Blonde is brewed with American Pale and Vienna malts that combine to give this ale its distinctively smooth and creamy body. Just enough hops are added to this rich, golden colored ale to perfectly balance its bready finish. It is fermented at a cool temperature to give it a clean finish.

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.08 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  84 out of 100 (good)

Southern Star Brewing Company
3525 N Frazier St.
Conroe, Texas 77303

Source Material
Southern Star website

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