“When them cotton balls get rotten, you can’t pick very much cotton.”
Written by Ben Wilson and Meagan Wilson
Photos by Ben Wilson
Tupps Brewery was founded roughly 2 years ago, on a dream, a family, and the cooperation of some investors, not necessarily in that order. It sits next to the old Cotton Mill in McKinney, Texas. They make some great session-able summer beers, some outstanding strong beers, and you can find them in Target.
But I’ve never been one to let the facts get in the way of a good experience, and that’s exactly what this was; a solid, enjoyable, family-friendly experience. Rolling in, we spotted cars parked all the way down the street and beginning to make their way into the parking lot at the end of the street.
The Cotton Mill is a really picturesque location with signs that say “no photography except by permission,” so I can’t show it to ya’. Otherwise, I would, and they’d get some free publicity too. But hey, I’ve also never been one to force my values on people. If you run a business and don’t want free advertisement, then, um…I’m not sure what to say.
That aside, the people at Tupps were super friendly. We’d talked to Katie via e-mail, but she’s on the tail end of a pregnancy, so wasn’t there to chat. We hit up Chase, an outgoing guy with a beard and a hat. The people tending bar were very chill, and the entire place radiated a friendly, homey atmosphere with a cool art-forward vibe.
People played jenga with 2x4s, a man with a different beard and a different hat shouted out some Neil Young while smacking a guitar with his hands, and there were popsicles. It was a good, sunny, high-70s day in North Texas, and everyone seemed to be in a good mood. Some people dressed oddly, possibly because of the upcoming Kentucky Derby, possibly for some other reason.
Editor’s note: one of the investors told us that most of the decor is hand-built, some of it from materials reclaimed from the Cotton Mill. Apparently, it used to be one of the biggest denim factories in the world.
And in the corners, and against the wall, and outside, all around there was beer. Big beer, small beer, experimental beer and session-able beer; beer in cans, beer from taps, and not once was there to be seen beer with caps. They don’t bottle.
Editor’s note: some of the barrel-aged and other high-octane brews are available in 500 ml bottles. We did not see any of those bottles, but the beers that go into them are outstanding.
Full Grown Man (nitro) – this is the second time ever that I agree with the use of nitro. The lack of carbonic acid tones down the hops, allowing notes of black Cavendish tobacco, dried cherries, black strap molasses and an inexplicable hint of hibiscus in the nose to surface, making this a delight for the senses and a bomb on the liver. At 11.2%, you feel the heat in the stomach, although this wasn’t a brain bomb. The pour was bee-you-tee-full.
Full Grown Hombre – mole version of the Full Grown Man. Delish.
Dark Saison – sage, laurel. Roast malz, vanilla – this one tastes a lot like a well-seasoned sweet tobacco pipe that for some reason you decided to smoke a pinch of kinnickinnick out of, and now you’re trying to figure out how to get that crazy white sage and cedar flavor out.
Imperial Saison – dangerously dry and drinkable. Bits of lemon, touch of pepper. Very, very strong for a saison. You’d hardly know it to drink it, so watch this one.
Mango Day Off – I enjoyed the Day Off kolsch at the Fossil Spring Fest, which was a pretty good time. Day Off isn’t exactly a to-style kolsch – the yeast tastes a little off, the grain tastes right, but the hops don’t really come in to save the day. It’s almost a blonde ale, but with hints of that kolsch sulfur. Even so, session-able. However, the mango version is out freaking standing. If you see this one in the store, and you like good things, you owe it to yourself to try it. If you do not like good things, don’t try this one. You won’t like it, because it’s good.
Hop Rocket – very refreshing, unusual variation on the kolsch, with cucumber and citrus notes. Judging by the name, they poured this one through a hop rocket with cucumber and some other stuff in. Odds are good that you won’t find this variation in a can. As a fellow visitor said, “It’s a lot of flavor, but it’s all light.” This is perfect for enjoying on the porch during a summer afternoon.
Kombucha – there were two varieties of kombucha on tap. Normally, one of us likes Kombucha and the other doesn’t. But we both liked the Tupps kombucha. The mint version they had on tap is delicate, fruity, light, and delicious.
Tupps has more beers coming up for release soon, so keep your eyes open for new cans hitting DFW shelves.
A great time was had by all, no one was angry or hurt, and I left with hope that Texas beer culture might actually be good. Sure, I’ve had a few dozen really terrible beers from local breweries, but with Tupps, Jester King, and Adelbert’s all making some decent beers, there have to be more high-quality breweries out there – people who make beer because they love beer, love people, and love life.
And that’s really what it’s all for; this isn’t beer for alcoholics. This is beer for people who dig people.