DC Beer

Have a beer with……Bob Tupper

Do you foresee any opportunities to offer the Hop Pocket Ale in cask for a special local event ?

I hope so. St. George at this time does not produce cask beers. I would expect that to change and I’m sure Tuppers’ will be high on the list when they do start even a limited cask operation. But remember, all Tuppers beers are conditioned in the bottle and the keg. So the advantage cask ales have of the live yeast is already a part of our flavor profile, and our dry hopping gives the taste of fresh hop flavor you can find in some cask ales. Casks have gentler carbonation, of course, but if you have a kegerator you can approximate a cask ale experience (at least cask ale on cask breather) by turning the CO2 way down. I’m not saying it’s the same, but the flavor of any beers is obviously a matter of personal preference. Ellie and I have had at least a dozen cask ales in brewpubs this year that tasted better on draft than they did in cask.

What are your Top 5 deserted island beers and why?

First I’m going to look around to see if there’s an abandoned brew pub and put Friday to work if there is. But I know that misses the point of your question. So—Tuppers’ Hop Pocket Ale and Tuppers’ Keller Pils. But that again, ducks what you really want to know. We had better want those with us—if not we need to be down in Hampden trying to tell them how to make it better.

So, OK, under duress:
1. Our highest rated beer ever was a six year old bottle of Thomas Hardy’s Ale from Eldridge Pope in Dorchester. It would be a good lay-down beer in case we were there a long time. Even if the island is in the South Pacific it’s going to get cool enough at night to enjoy a sipping beer around the palm fire.
2. Hawkshead Organic Oatmeal Stout from the town of Staveley in Cumbria, England. The black cherry and currant notes in the dark roast malt go on forever. Every returning sip is a joy. A beer with this much good flavor can’t be done at 4.5% ABV and it can’t be done if the brewery is limited to using organic ingredients. But they did.
3. Sierra Nevada Celebration. There are plenty of challengers on the market now (Hop Slam anyone, or Weyerbacher Simcoe Double IPA?), but this was the first of the truly great hop delights. The only drawback—it’s a bit strong in alcohol, and if you’re having “more than one” the combination of the booze and the hops will make work a particular challenge the next morning. One of the reasons we kept the Hop Pocket to 6% was that we wanted a more morning-friendly product. But on the island?—I know I’m not doing any work in the morning! If I had to settle for one of the Sierra Nevada wet hop ales instead, I could live with it pretty easily.
4. Russian River Sanctification. There are still some marvelous lambic beers in Belgium (Boon is one), but some of the best in the style are coming from breweries in the US such as Allagash, Port Brewing, and Russian River. I wonder if Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River has ever brewed a bad beer. I want it on the island because I figure I’m going to eat a lot of fish and bananas and I’m going to get bored with the same old thing. Sanctification is never ever going to be boring.
5. Ellie wouldn’t agree with this choice, but I’d want a good German pils as an everyday beer. (It’s OK, she’s going to snag most of the Hawkshead.) If I couldn’t have Tuppers’ Keller Pils, I could settle for a number of others—Celler Pils refers to the city of Celle, not a basement. It’s light and clean with just a touch of chalky yeastiness from bottle conditioning. Jahns Brau Nordwald was one of the greatest pilsners ever made, but it was too hoppy for the Franconians of North Bavaria and is produced only sporadically now. Tettnanger Keller-Pils is soft, very drinkable, and another exceptional organic beer. Victory Prima Pils and Troegs Sunshine Pils, when fresh, are the equal of almost anything coming out of Europe these days.

How has the DC Craft Beer scene grown over the past 10 years? How does it compare to other cities you have visited?

It’s grown, but it’s also shrunk. Founders, John Harvard’s, Capital City brewpubs in Bethesda and Baltimore, Blue and Gold, Patowmack Ale, and a number of others have come and gone. The greatest loss to the DC area was Old Dominion, of course. They brewed not only our beers, but other great beers such as New River, and they served as a refuge for brewers starting up or rebuilding such as Starr Hill and St. George’s. I hope someone takes their place, but the economics are not encouraging. On the other hand, those breweries that remain match up well with those of any city in the country. Portland and Philadelphia have more breweries, but if you include Baltimore and the wider suburbs, we’re very, very lucky to live in this area. Additionally, there’s been an explosion of great places to drink in the DC area. Rustico, Columbia Firehouse, and Church Key have joined RFD as exceptional tap houses. There are plenty of restaurants ranging from Two Amy’s to Hard Times that carry very nice and sometimes quite unusual beers. And we still have the absolutely unique Brickskeller. Admittedly I have a bias (and, no, I don’t own a brick of it), but the combination of the amazing array of beers and the remarkable range of beer events there sets it apart from any beer establishment Ellie and I have visited in our over 30 years of beer hopping in the US and Europe.

What are the plans for the future? Will customer demand be met with higher production volumes? When can we expect the Pilsner?

Yes. But not overnight. I hope when the initial curiosity and enthusiasm settles into a regular flow we’ll be able to come closer to meeting demand than what St. George can produce now. But they’ll grow if they need to, and growth could lead to a better price as well.

The Pilsner will be kegged and bottled in March; it’s already in the tank. And there will be some new Tuppers’ beers in the not-so-distant future.
One advantage in moving on from Old Dominion is that while they were able to make a great deal of the ale, they had no interest in one-offs and other specialty beers coming out under our name. There will be other Tuppers in the next year or two.

For more information please check out http://tuppersbeers.com and check back here often.

Picture used by permission of Tom Cizauskas of Yoursforgoodfermentables.com – Check out his website for plenty of Tuppers’ past and present Info.

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