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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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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tap Handle #644: 7 Seas - Cutt’s NW Amber Ale

Tap size: 9.75"
Rarity:  hand-made
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

There's not much to say about this tap, as it is a giant number "7" made out of wood, in a gothic style font shape, with a red overlay front and back that has the word "Seas" cut into it. Another notable feature is the name of the beer, which has been woodburned into the sides of the tap, giving it some unique character.  They appear on the secondary market from time to time and are fairly affordable. I wanted one because it is a local brewery, and I plan on visiting the brewery at some point, since it is only a few hours away from me.

Click through to read more about 7 Seas Brewing, their Cutt's NW Amber Ale, and to see more photos of this by-the-numbers tap...

7 Seas was founded in Gig Harbor, Washington in 2009 by Travis Guterson and Mike Runion. Guterson started brewing when he was 16; his father David, the award winning author of “Snow Falling on Cedars”, had dabbled in homebrewing, so by piecing together a system from parts laying around the basement, the enterprising teenager was soon cooking up an oatmeal pale ale on his parent's stove. He even made his own labels for his beer. He went on to attend Washington State to study entrepreneurship, where he met Runion (who was also studying the same field), but he dropped out to start working in the brewing business, landing his first job cleaning kegs and capping bottles at the Pelican Brewery. After a year there, he moved on to Lompoc Brewing Company, and then Silver City Brewery, accumulating experience at each stop.

In 2008 he and his college buddy Runion decided to open a brewery in Gig Harbor, in a 1,500 square foot building formerly used as a racquetball court. Just days before brewing operations were to commence, a space heater in an adjoining business caught fire and their brewery burned down. Undaunted, the partners relocated to a 3,000 square foot former auto body shop tucked away behind an old water tower amidst a forest of fir and cedar trees. Featuring a closet sized taproom, wooded beer garden, and a used 8.5 bbl brew house that they obtained from a closed brewery in Seattle, 7 Seas Brewing was born. By the summer of 2009, kegs were being self-distributed to local bars and restaurants. Later that year, the brewery became the first to utilize aluminum cans in Washington State.

The small, local brewery quickly gained the support of the community and additional tanks were installed in an effort to keep up with demand. By 2012, it became clear that 7 Seas needed a larger home, having topped out at 1,200 bbls per year. They moved into a 12,000 square foot building that was a former QFC store near the Gig Harbor waterfront. A 2,500 sq. ft. taproom was built and a new three vessel 25 bbl brew house was installed, along with the original 8.5 bbl brew house. They focused on the beer and being family-friendly, so no televisions were installed in the taproom and the seating was family style around long rectangular tables built from reclaimed timber. Visitors could watch the beer being made through a glass wall.

They initially anticipated a production of 3,500 bbls per year, but had room to grow and add more tanks for production increases. As production did indeed grow, 7 Seas partnered with several area distributors, enabling their beer to reach all of Western Washington. Using the new, larger brew house to produce eight year-round beers and four seasonal beers, the 3000 square foot original brew house (the old auto body shop which they had retained) became an excellent tool for small batch experimentation, barrel-aging projects, and the creation of special beers exclusively available at the Taproom. To have a well-trained crew, the two owners arranged and conducted sensory classes for their staff on dozens of different craft beer styles, and all staff were required to have Cicerone Certified Beer Server training.

By 2015 they had maxed out at 8000 barrels. The brewers couldn’t find a building in Gig Harbor big enough for their ambitious production plans, so they purchased a historic 80,000 square foot building near downtown Tacoma, which originally housed part of the famous Heidelberg Brewery. Although the main brewery had been demolished over several years, what later became known as "The Jet Building", part of the Heidleberg complex, had survived as the home to the Jet Equipment company, and in recent years held artwork from Chihuly Studio. Occupying two city blocks adjacent to the University of Washington campus, the purchase provided 7 Seas Brewing with a permanent home where they could increase capacity ten fold to 80,000 BBS per year. Plans included a push into sour and barrel-aged beers; the site had a 10,000 square foot basement, which was likely a cooler for Heidelberg, and was a perfect cellar for sour beers.

Upon moving the larger brew house to Tacoma in the spring of 2016, and installing new packaging equipment for cans and kegs, 7 Seas breathed new life into the old building, which hadn’t brewed beer since 1979. The project finished quickly thanks to support from city officials. In August of 2016, after giving the exterior a facelift, they opened their doors to the public with a 10,000 square foot taproom, capable of seating 500 people and featuring beautiful custom wood tables and bars, a view of the brewing operations, and 48 taps. The building also runs along the Prairie Line Trail, which has access to the taproom. Although the brewery opened with a restaurant, 7 Seas does not operate it. The restaurant - whose name is pronounced Built, but is spelled 3uilt - includes a menu of charcuterie plates with cured meats and cheeses sourced from Northwest businesses such as Seattle’s Bavarian Meats and Willapa Hills Cheese. Deli and panini sandwiches and salads will be served as well. A shucked-to-order oyster bar will be in operation. Also, Tacoma’s Valhalla Coffee opened a roastery in the building.

7 Seas currently operates both brewery and taproom locations every day, brewing 9 year round beers, several seasonals and reserves, and multiple entries in their sour and barrel-aging programs. They distribute their beer throughout all of Washington. They’ve been voted ‘Best Brewery in the South Sound’ 7 years running by readers of South Sound Magazine.

Cutt's NW Amber Ale, named in honor of the local Cutt’s Island AKA “Dead Man’s” Island, displays a brilliantly clear reddish hue, an intense nose of pine and citrus, a medium body, malt notes of fresh toasted bread, and a pleasant lingering hop bitterness. Quite assertive for an amber ale, Cutt’s remains well balanced yet truly Northwest in its audacity.

Ratebeer weighted average:  3.05 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  no score

7 Seas Brewing Company
3207 57th St CT NW
Gig Harbor, Washington 98335

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