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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, August 3, 2016

Tap Handle #625: Maumee Bay - Major Oliver's Golden Lager

Tap size:  11.25"
Rarity:  10 or less seen, beer retired, hand-made
Mounting:  3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

This was a tap that I missed out on the first time I saw it before I finally got my hands on one. It features a bust of Major William Oliver sitting on a pedestal. The brewery's name does not appear on the tap, but in their early days the Major Oliver's brand was associated with them since they were located in the historic Oliver House. There were a few different varieties of Major Oliver's beer, which is indicated by an area on the front of the tap where a label is applied. Since their Major Oliver's brand has been retired for a long time and little information is available on it, I have chosen to focus part of my write up on the legendary Buckeye Beer, which Maumee Bay produces. This tap is quite scarce - I've only seen two others and they both were close to $100.

Major William Oliver was an officer who fought at Fort Meigs during the War of 1812. Quite some time later, he commissioned Isaiah Rogers to design a hotel building with a main front overlooking a beautiful park with shade trees and private rooms that offered a view of the Maumee River, in an area known as the Middlegrounds. Famous for his palace hotel designs, Rogers also gained national recognition as Chief of the Bureau of Construction in the U.S. Treasury Department, a position appointed to him by President Lincoln. The grand opening dazzled citizens with its million and a quarter bricks that went into the construction and the 171 rooms each with its own fireplace, running water, and gas lighting. Beautiful furnishings such as rosewood chairs, a carved piano, and lace curtains decorated the interior of the Oliver House. Guests enjoyed all the finest luxuries, including an omnibus that transported travelers from the railroad station to the hotel. The menu was only of superior quality.

Unfortunately, by 1894 hotels began to move closer to the downtown area, while manufacturing began to move into the Middlegrounds. The economic and social pressures from industries surrounding the hotel eventually forced the Oliver House to be reduced to a common rooming house. In 1919, Edward N. Riddle bought the Oliver House and converted it into an industrial plant for the Riddle Co., manufacturers of lighting fixtures. The new plant required that the interior be totally gutted. The only remnants of the grand hotel were two ornamental marble mantels, some wallpaper, and a black walnut and ash floor in the lobby area. However, the company did not survive the Great Depression, and during that time it is said to have been used as a flophouse. In 1947 the Oliver House changed owners again. Used for industrial purposes once more, it housed an axle manufacturer called Toledo Wheel & Rim. Twenty years later, in 1967, Successful Sales Co. purchased the Oliver House, for show and storage of novelty items that the company sold, and the building was also occupied by various small businesses until its purchase by James and Patricia Appold. The Oliver House stands as the only remaining hotel designed by Isaiah Rogers.

The Oliver House served as a medical center for the wounded during the Spanish-American War and this historic hotel has a haunted reputation. Numerous apparitions have appeared to guests and diners over the years. The most common, is that of a soldier who has come to be known as “The Captain.” He is said to show up most frequently dressed in full uniform. Paranormal investigations and strange sightings there are common.

Click through to read more about Maumee Bay Brewing Company and to see more photos of this historic tap...

Maumee Bay Brewing Company was founded in Toldeo, Ohio in 1995 by James and Patricia Appold. Originally from Michigan, the Appolds moved to Ohio, where James founded Consolidated Biscuit Company in 1963. Under his leadership, the bakery became one of the largest in the country and included facilities in five states. In 1990 the Appolds decided to purchase the historic Oliver House in downtown Toledo, the oldest working commercial building in the city. They thought the building, though run-down, had the potential to be restored to its original glorious appearance, and to generate positive cash flow as a mixed use tenant building. After extensive renovations that restored its beauty, it achieved a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. But instead of leasing out the space to other businesses, the Appolds decided to occupy most of the building space by founding Maumee Bay Brewing within the building, along with a brewpub, a steakhouse, a bistro cafe, a sports bar, a banquet room, and a museum dedicated to Toledo's rich brewing history. Patricia Appold served as President of the Oliver House Development Company and also of Maumee Bay Brewing.

Additional holding tanks and a bottling line were located directly across the street. Throughout the year there are 7 beers on tap at the Maumee Bay Brew Pub. Additionally, their beers are available at all of the restaurants in the historic Oliver House. Their beer is also available for sale in half-gallon growlers, six packs, twelve packs, six pack cans, growlers and kegs. This includes the legendary Buckeye Beer, which Maumee Bay produces and owns the rights to. Buckeye is a local product with a long and storied history.

The second oldest business in Toledo, The Buckeye Brewing Company began operations in 1838 on the city's east side. Buckeye was founded just one year after the city of Toledo itself, and was one of the oldest breweries in American history. Very little is known of the company's humble beginnings until it came under new ownership and moved to its Michigan St. address in 1886. Prohibition would soon call the brewery's staying power into question. From 1919 to 1933, Buckeye switched its production to bottling soft drinks like ginger ale, root beer and cider, as well as utilizing its cold storage facilities. Prohibition hit Buckeye's competition as well, and after alcohol was legal again, Buckeye was the only brewery in town. At the height of its success, the brewery could churn out 300,000 barrels of beer a year.

Buckeye's mascot was Bucky, a man just 4 feet and 2 inches tall. Bucky's real name was Carl Walinski, and he worked at a local bar before being discovered by brewery representatives. From then on, he was used for promotional events and would often roller skate through town or into bars holding aloft a tray of Buckeye Beer. It's estimated he roller skated some 30,000 miles in his stint as mascot from 1936 to 1942. The spectacle grew after a billy goat was added to the act, putting "Bucky and Billy" even further into the public spotlight by having them appear in parades. The company also used a cartoon likeness of Bucky on their label, which disappeared after a label re-design. Walinski allegedly asked for a raise in 1942, but was instead let go, effectively putting an end to the face of Buckeye Beer.

The Buckeye Brewing building during demolition.
In 1966, Peter Hand Brewing Company of Chicago bought Buckeye and began brewing Meister Brau, in addition to Buckeye, at the Toledo facility. Meister Brau Lite was added to the brewery's line-up as well, but success soon drew the attention of one of the country's largest beer producers. Miller Brewing Company bought the Buckeye and Meister Brau Lite labels six years later, changing Meister Brau Lite to Miller Lite, and moving Buckeye beer production to Milwaukee in 1972. Toledo's Buckeye plant would close that same summer. Miller put an end to production of Buckeye just two years later due to disappointing sales. Construction crews demolished the Buckeye Brewery buildings in 1974 and Meister Brau's assets were sold off, while the Buckeye name went unused by Miller.

In the mid-1990s, Oliver House owner Jim Appold approached Miller about the Buckeye label and purchased the rights to use it. From then on, The Maumee Bay Brewing Company went to work trying to duplicate Buckeye's taste. Appold tried to find the original recipe without success, instead opting for trial and error to get it right, brewing many test batches in the process. Although the end product didn't exactly duplicate the original recipe, many people who remembered Buckeye claimed Appold's version had better flavor.  Collectors of breweriana and casual nostalgia hunters often visit the Oliver House to take in the building's collection of Buckeye Beer items in the museum. Some also come to offer the treasures they've found. Every spring, the Oliver House hosts the Buckeye Beer Collectors Society meeting, in which breweriana collectors from all over converge to buy, sell and reminisce about the Buckeye brand. Given the brand's rich history, interest among enthusiasts remains high for new merchandise, as well as rare items. Buckeye is once again a regional beer with distribution throughout Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, and the Buckeye name is like gold in Columbus, Ohio, as the beer is gaining market share in the city with draft accounts at campus restaurants.

The Major Oliver's brand has been retired by Maumee Bay for quite some time. There are no entries on Ratebeer or Beer Advocate. I did find an entry for Major Oliver's Red on Bruguru - a link is provided in the Source Material section for those who are curious.

Maumee Bay Brewing Company
27 Broadway
Toledo, Ohio 43604

Source Material
Maumee Bay website

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