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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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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Tap Handle #637: Granville Island - Ginja Ninja Ginger Beer

Tap size:  11.25"
Rarity:  less than 10 seen, seasonal, beer retired
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

The Ginja Ninja tap has quickly staked a claim on my favorites list. I love the concept of the female ninja dressed in subtle, earth-tones colors contrasted by the her bright red hair. The sculpting detail is outstanding - especially the wicker basket at the bottom, the bamboo pole behind the ninja, the detail in her eyes, and her ninja weapons that she is holding in her hands. Next to the bamboo pole is a large piece of parchment bearing a decal of the beer name and the yin and yang symbol. The ninja has popped out of the wicker basket, and on the front of that basket is a sign with the brewery's name on it. Due to the reflective nature of the sign, I had trouble getting photos of it without my light source washing it out. This tap is very rare; very few of these figural versions were ever produced; the more common tap was plain and flat, and featured a 2-D decal of this 3-D image. Also, as a seasonal, the beer itself was not produced and distributed in great quantities. And since the beer has been discontinued, these taps will not be produced again. Thanks to this scarcity and the beauty of the tap, it commands hefty prices on the secondary market - and I would be amazed if even a few more appear there at all.

Click through to read more about Granville Island Brewing, their Ginja Ninja Ginger Beer, and to see more photos of this beautiful yet deadly tap...

Granville Island Brewing was founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1984 by Mitch Taylor. Because it was Canada's first microbrewery, It took two years prior to opening the brewery in 1984 to figure out what kind of legislation they needed in order to brew and sell beer at one location. Taylor had to call on Prime Minister John Turner to strike down an old law. Their first beer was Island Lager, which was made in adherence to the German Reinheitsgebot with malts from Prairie and Bairds, regional pellet hops, and local water. No pasteurization was employed, and spent grains were sent to a local merchant where they ended up in specialty breads.

The current brewmaster, Vern Lambourne, joined Granville Island Brewing in 2002. In 2005, Andrew Peller Wines purchased Granville Island Brewing from Taylor and in 2006 renovated the original facilities beneath the Granville Bridge. Adjoining the glass-walled brewhouse, they created an open two-story tasting room. The medium size light wood bar hosted two four-tap ceramic towers with custom logos. Tours were given at the brewery, and the Gift Shop sold bottled six-packs as well as kegs to go. Adjacent to the Granville Island Brewery was the Keg restaurant, where all beers from the brewery were found on tap, served alongside burgers and local seafood. Pellar also expanded into a new, larger facility located in Kelowna, which also featured a bottling and canning line.

In 2009 Molson Coors Canada purchased Granville Island Brewing through its subsidiary, Creemore Springs Brewing, from Peller. Though the larger part of its base of operations moved inland to Kelowna, the original brewery continued to manufacture some of the company's products. The original brewhouse is located directly under the Granville Bridge that crosses False Creek into downtown Vancouver. Creemore Springs did not make any changes at Granville, but did use the company as a platform for expansion of their own products. Molson Coors and Creemore Springs, while taking over the Kelowna facility to produce their own product lines, had the foresight to keep their hands out of the Granville Island process and allow Lambourne to flex his brewing muscle, while providing him the resources necessary to spread craft beer to a larger audience than even conceivable prior to acquisition.

In practice, Granville Island still functions very much like a craft brewery. In 2013, they produced 65,000 hectolitres of beer, which, by provincial standards, is technically a microbrewery. Some American craft breweries, including Sierra Nevada and Stone, produce far more than that. More importantly, there’s a brewer at the helm able to assert creative control over everything that’s produced at the Granville Island location. There they produce small batches of beer, with taste and quality in mind. But despite great success at a micro and macro brewing level, Granville Island still faces the struggles of legislation in serving beer the way they please. In the long queue for a lounge license, patrons are consistently turned away because they cannot be served more than a single 12 ounce glass at the brewery itself. The limitation of a single 12 ounce serving limits the business to passersby and convenience rather than a social craft beer destination.

The launch of a growler series of brews recently has helped to drive traffic to the brewery with beers which are only available for growler fills at the facility. This strategy helps to avoid double taxation on the beer sold at the tasting room but also gives a reason for craft beer enthusiasts to venture to Granville Island. The growler strategy on its own will not likely change the need for a lounge license, but in the meantime it allows more people to enjoy Granville Island Beer in the comfort of their own homes. The brewery uses local ingredients whenever possible, and they are BC’s first Bullfrog Powered brewery using clean, green electricity and natural gas. As part of the Canadian bottle pool, their 341ml bottles are re-used up to 13 times; spent grains from their Small Batch site now go to farms for animal feed; and they participate in Granville Island’s Zero Waste Initiative.

In 2015 the Vancouver Nighthawks announced a title partnership with Granville Island Brewing. As part of the sponsorship deal, Granville Island Brewing serve their craft brews at every Nighthawks home game at Thunderbird Stadium. The brewery currently produces 6 year-round beers and 3 seasonals in their Coastal Series, and they also have a Small Batch Series served only at the brewery. Their beers are distributed throughout Canada.

Ginja Ninja was a ninja-like lager with a light body and low bitterness, which allowed the fruity, yet subtly spicy ginger flavor to be the star. It was a golden-ginger colored lager that tasted lighter than other beers and was less bitter.  Recommended food pairings were Asian foods, sushi, or spicy foods. Due to its refreshing-during-hot-weather nature, the beer was brewed only as a summer seasonal. It has ceased production, however, and is no longer available.

Ratebeer weighted average:  2.74 out 5
Beer Advocate:  no score

Granville Island Brewing
1125 Richter St
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada V1T 2K6

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