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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, August 23, 2016

Tap Handle #629: Belfast Bay - Stone Crab IPA

Tap size:  9.25"
Rarity:  50 or less seen
Mounting:  3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

It's been a long time since I profiled Belfast Bay's first tap, Lobster fact you have to go all the way back to March of 2012 and profile #108! The previous tap featured a lobster claw, but this tap features the claw of a stone crab. It's a real beauty, too, with black pincers and orange-colored, segmented legs. The brewery name is a decal applied near the top of the claw, but the beer name is actually sculpted as raised lettering under the decal. Although it's a little on the small side, it is still very impressive. While the Lobster Ale tap continues to be produced, this tap was only available for a limited time and is now out of production and hard to find. It's been at least several months since I've seen one.

For more about Belfast Bay, see this post.

A stone crab, also known as a Florida stone crab, is definitely an unusual creature. With its Popeye-sized claws and tiny body, this six-inch crustacean folds up into a football in repose and bristles out into an irritable, spiky tank when its blood is up, like any other crab. But that’s not what’s special about it. The Florida stone crab a uniquely sustainable food animal. Found from North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico, Florida stone crabs can only be legally harvested from October 15 to May 15. Fishermen go out in sturdy 45-foot boats with crews of three or four, and set down hundreds or thousands of traps on the rocky seabed 35 to 70 miles off of the coast, leaving shore before the sun rises and returning as it dips below the horizon, rain or shine. The traps, which are usually baited with pig’s feet, are smaller and more cube-like than lobster traps, and they’re made of milk-crate plastic instead of wood - natural predators, like octopuses, sea turtles, and big fish, will target trapped crabs, and can easily chew or claw through wood.

After a certain period, they return to the traps and haul them out. And that’s where the critical step takes place that makes the stone-crab industry uniquely sustainable. The key is popping off the claw while keeping the crab alive - the crab evolved the ability to regenerate its limbs over and over again so that it could sacrifice an extremity or two to escape from its enemies. The claws are then graded according to size, taken back to the docks, and boiled in a big vat, which turns the claws bright orange. By law it can't be shipped fresh, because it spoils too fast, so it is always first cooked and then chilled so that the meat will not stick to the shell; it can't be frozen, because the meat will be dry and stringy when defrosted. The crabs, meanwhile, take about a year to grow their claws back.

Click through to read more about Belfast Bay's Stone Crab IPA and to see more photos of this gripping tap...

Belfast Bay’s Stone Crab IPA is a classically brewed India Pale Ale that was first released in 2015. Nicely balanced and not exaggerated in any way, the Stone Crab IPA has five different malts blended with five separate kettle addition hops to create a dry, crisp, refreshing ale that isn’t overly hopped like much of the IPA market. Its subtle fruity aromas (from the dry hopping) lead into malty flavors with a lingering mild bitterness. Recommended food pairings are all pub foods, and, of course, stone crab.

Ratebeer weighted average:  2.93 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  no score

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