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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, October 5, 2016

Tap Handle #635: Fiddlehead IPA

Tap size:  11.75"
Rarity:  10 or less seen, hand-made
Mounting:  3/8" ferrule on 5/16" anchor bolt

There's nothing extravagant about this tap - its beauty and elegance lie in clean simplicity. There is a mountain scene within the round area at the top of the tap, and the shaft is made to look like wood. Stretching up from the base is a Fiddlehead Fern, and on the sides of the shaft "IPA" is sculpted in raised letters. Since the brewery is fairly small, that may explain why so few of these have been seen on the secondary market. The price, however, is fairly reasonable. There is a second, more rare version than this one that I am still on the hunt for.

Fiddleheads or fiddlehead greens are the furled fronds of a young fern, harvested for use as a vegetable. Left on the plant, each fiddlehead would unroll into a new frond. Fiddleheads have antioxidant activity, are a source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and are high in iron and fiber. Certain varieties of fiddleheads have been shown to be carcinogenic. The fiddlehead resembles the curled ornamentation (called a scroll) on the end of a stringed instrument, such as a violin. It is also called a crozier, after the curved staff used by bishops, which has its origins in the shepherd's crook. Fiddleheads have been part of traditional diets in much of Northern France since the beginning of the Middle Ages, across Asia, and also among Native Americans for centuries. They are also part of the diet in the Russian Far East where they are often picked in the wild in autumn, preserved in salt over winter, and then consumed in spring.

Click through to read more about Fiddlehead Brewing, their flagship IPA, and to see more photos of this unfurling tap...

Fiddlehead Brewing Company was founded in Shelburne, Vermont in 2011 by Matthew ("Matty O") Cohen. He was first introduced to craft beer in college when a friend bought him a Sierra Nevada beer in the early 1990s. He decided he wanted to pursue a career in craft brewing, but without a major that allowed him to brew, he instead pursued a degree in anthropology while focusing on fermented beverages in different cultures. He also started home brewing in his dorm room. After graduating, he moved to Vermont and got a job at the Shed restaurant & brewery. After 6 months he joined a then-new, up-and-coming brewery: Magic Hat. Cohen worked there for 13 years, filling kegs as he worked his way up to head brewer after 6 years. After North American Breweries (NAB) purchased Magic Hat in 2010, the culture changed, and an unhappy Cohen left to start his own project, Fiddlehead.

His initial plans were to start a self-funded craft brewery in Burlington, but about a month after he left Magic Hat, Cohen signed a 10-year lease on a not-yet-built structure in Shelburne. John Koerner had purchased the land a few years earlier - it was the former home of a commercial greenhouse - and had always envisioned a brewery on the spot. With plans to build a pizza restaurant in a barn-shaped building but needing an anchor tenant for the other half, Koerner made Cohen an offer he couldn't refuse. Cohen began planning and building a 15-barrel system, which included one mash tun and one lauter tun, two boilers, two fermenters, and a 30-barrel brite tank, enabling him to produce a batch of beer every three and a half hours, with plans to turn out 5000 barrels of Fiddlehead beer a year.

The small brewery included a very small tasting room where beers were sold on tap and free samples could be tried. No food was served in the tasting room, but the brewery filled growlers that could then be taken next door to the pizza restaurant. Also within the tasting room was a separate brewing setup that let Cohen experiment with a new beer every two weeks. For the first year, Cohen kept production under 700 barrels, controlling growth and perfecting his styles, with his draft-only flagship IPA as the primary focus for the first year and a half. He used malt from barley grown in New England and malted in Canada, and hops grown in the Yakima Valley of Washington state, with hopes for drawing on the local hop trade in the future.

By 2014 demand necessitated adding two new fermenters, which maxed out the brewing space. Cohen began planning for building another facility behind the brewery that would contain another brewhouse and would increase production. However, the new facility never materialized, and in 2015 Fiddlehead signed a lease for a 9,640-foot space with Shelburne Green Space. Distribution is currently throughout restaurants and bars in Vermont, with some limited canning that is sold at the brewery.

This medium bodied American style IPA has an alluring golden glow and beautifully blends three strains of hops. While strong citrus notes ambush your taste buds halfway through the palate, the beer finishes very crisp and dry.

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.66 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  90 out of 100 (outstanding)

Fiddlehead Brewing Company
6305 Shelburne Road
Shelburne, Vermont 05483

Source Material

1 comment:

  1. I have a Fiddlehead IPA tap handle that does not have ' Brewing Company' on it. Would that be the more rare version you mentioned? Thanks!