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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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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Tap Handle #641: Cervezas Alhambra (Mahou San Miguel) - Reserva 1925

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

There's nothing extraordinary about this tap, and it is not fully figural. However, it does have a cool looking design at the top, and I have an admitted attraction to imports, especially one with ties to the amazing palace of The Alhambra. The figure at the top resembles an animal in abstract, perhaps a lion, which bears a strong likeness to statues under a fountain in one of the Alhambra's courtyards (see photo below). The name of the beer, brewery, and country appear at the bottom of the tap, and on one side of the tap are the words "Strong Lager 6.4%". As an import, the tap is very difficult to find - I've only seen a couple of others.

The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition), and the palaces were partially altered to Renaissance tastes. It is now one of Spain's major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country's most significant and well-known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Despite long neglect, willful vandalism, and some ill-judged restoration, the Alhambra endures as an atypical example of Muslim art in its final European stages, relatively uninfluenced by the direct Byzantine influences found in the Mezquita of Córdoba. The majority of the palace buildings are quadrangular in plan, with all the rooms opening on to a central court, and the whole reached its present size simply by the gradual addition of new quadrangles, designed on the same principle, though varying in dimensions, and connected with each other by smaller rooms and passages. Alhambra was extended by the different Muslim rulers who lived in the complex. However, each new section that was added followed the consistent theme of "paradise on earth". Column arcades, fountains with running water, and reflecting pools were used to add to the aesthetic and functional complexity. In every case, the exterior was left plain and austere. Sun and wind were freely admitted. Blue, red, and a golden yellow, all somewhat faded through lapse of time and exposure, are the colors chiefly employed.

(Editor's note: the Alhambra is one of my favorite places on earth; I was stunned by the first photos I saw of it in the book "Castles of Spain". Alhambra is the inspiration for many songs and stories, and even appears in video games such as Assassin's Creed and Civilization V. If you like ambient music, I highly recommend Jon Mark's album "Alhambra", with its moody influences of Moorish conquest, lush Alhambra gardens, and windswept mountain plateaus. You can listen to samples at Allmusic or iTunes.)

Click through to read more about Cervezas Alhambra, its Reserva 1925, and to see more photos of this exotic tap...

Cervezas Alhambra was founded in Grenada, Spain in 1925 as Alhambra Beers by Carlos Bouvard and Antonio Knörr. Bouvard was the owner of La Moravia brewery, and Knörr was descended from a long line of family brewers. The duo traveled to Granada with the goal of establishing a new brewery with a bit of local flavor, and the groundwork that their collaboration laid was instrumental in the brewery’s continued success through the succeeding decades. The brewery takes it name from the magnificent Alhambra Palace and was situated on the outskirts of Granada, not far from the foot of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains - the source of Spain's finest water.

The brand owes part of its evolution to the chemist D. Miguel Hernainz, who created Alhambra Reserva 1925 when the company was going through a difficult period. Despite the setbacks of the time in the midst of the Spanish Civil War, since 1936 Alhambra began a long period of growth. In 1954 it entered the shareholding of the Spanish company Damn and in 1979 Cruzcampo also became a part of the group. In the following decades, the company experienced years of growth and industrial modernization of its facilities.

In 1995 the company accumulated debts in the value of 600 million pesetas, which led it to renegotiate its debts with its creditors. In 1995 Cruzcampo and Damn abandoned the shareholding and Alhambra sold 99% of its shares to an external group at a low cost. In 1996 the company began to turn a profit. After reproducing the classic Reserva 1925 in 1997, by 1998 the company made a profit of 300 million pesetas, and in 1999 it bought the Andalusian Beer Company, producer of the Cordoba brand, Sureña, which was part of the Colombian group Bavaria. In 2001 Heineken Group (owner of Cruzcampo and El Aguila) sued Alhambra to keep them from producing Aquila Negra. The suit was accompanied by a report from a detective that stated Aguila Negra was being produced by Alhambra. The courts ruled in favor of Alhambra, which had legally purchased Aguila Negra in 1997. Alhambra counter-sued Heineken for industrial espionage. Although the judge imputed two of the heads of Heineken, the suit was eventually thrown out because Alhambra's production of Aguila Negra was not considered a trade secret.

In 2006 Alhambra was bought by Mahou San Miguel for 200 million euros. Mahou was founded in 1890 and has grown steadily ever since. Their other acquisitions were San Miguel in 2000 and Canary Islands brand Reina in 2004. The company focused its sales of Alhambra brands in the region of Western Andalusia, although in the beginning of the decade of the 2000’s it began to spread its brand to the Spanish regions of Levante and Madrid. The traditional brewing method employed by Alhambra involves slow, natural fermentation over periods of up to 39 days (as opposed to a 1 week period by most competing breweries), depending on the brand and the desired characteristics. All the Alhambra brand beers are made with no additives, and the water used is still drawn from the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Its product range includes four beers: Alhambra Reserva 1925, Alhambra Especial, Alhambra Tradicional and Alhambra SIN.

Alhambra Reserva 1925 is a Bohemia Pilsen style, produced with a breed of ‘Saaz’ hop, one of the most exclusive in the world. It has a rich and exquisite flavor, an amber and gold color, and an intense aroma. It mixes hints of toasted grains with lightly floral and spiced nuances, characteristic of Saaz hop. When delving into its flavor, the toasty hints of caramel complement the moderate bitterness. In palate, hints of grains and hop, providing a distinctive character and conveying the perfect touch of bitterness. It has been honored with a great distinction in the eighth edition of the World Beer Awards, which evaluate and crown the best beers in the international market. Alhambra Reserva 1925 was crowned as the winner of the Country Awards in the category Spain's Best Strong Lager in 2016.

Ratebeer weighted average:  2.65 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  77 out of 100 (okay)

Cervezas Alhambra
Avenida de Murcia Nº1
Granada, Spain 18012

Source Material

Alhambra photos courtesy of
Alhambra info courtesy of Wikipedia

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