Instead of posting a normal update this week we thought it might be fun to let you get to know our Brewmaster, Casey Hughes, a bit better. We sat down at the brewery today and asked him the tough questions. So here they are, 11 hard hitting questions with Casey Hughes:
1. How did your brewing career start?
CH: Luck. I moved to Key West just after High School and at age 18 I managed to get a job working the bottling line at the old Key West Brewery.
2. After Key West you moved up to Philadelphia to brew at Flying Fish. What beer are you proudest of from that time in your career?
CH: I’m proudest of the Exit 4 Trippel. That beer was the first time in my career I had free reign to develop a recipe and do whatever I wanted. I was shocked when it won gold at Great American Beer Fest and was later picked by Men’s Journal as best Belgian beer in America.
3. As you were looking at opportunities to go brew in Florida why did you choose this one?
CH: When I came down to Tampa to meet with Kent it just seemed like we were on the same page regarding how to do a brewery right. We had similar ideas on equipment, beer, and what we wanted to do. It just seemed like the right fit.
4. Coppertail and Flying Fish both seem to depict sea creatures in their logos. Why the policy of only working at nautical themed breweries?
CH: It has worked out that way hasn’t it? I don’t know. I love the water. I used to do commercial fishing and lobstering when I lived in Key West. I must just be drawn to nautical creatures.
5. What excites you about Tampa and Florida as a beer market?
CH: Tampa is a really exciting place to brew beer because it has so much room to grow, but it has a good foundation in place. It’s a relatively young market, but there’s already some great craft beer down here. Guys like Cigar City have already done so much to put Tampa bay on the map for craft beer. And now there’s so many new breweries opening, and so much good beer being made down here, and the beer culture is growing. It’s like where some of the more developed markets were 15 years ago and I think it’s going to be amazing to watch it grow and to try to be a part of that.
6. Besides beer, what drew you to Tampa as a place to live?
CH: The water, the weather and the people. I love boating and fishing, and this seemed like a great place for that. And the fact that I don’t have to deal with snow anymore makes it even better. People have been nice, too.
7. Let’s say there’s a rematch of the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and the Rays? Who are you rooting for?
CH: No comment. Next question.
8. The Philadelphia area is famous for Philly beer week and its craft beer culture. How does Tampa beer culture compare?
CH: I see a lot of excitement for great beer here which is like Philly. I think in a few years Tampa is going to become an amazing destination spot for beer and could rival some of the better beer cities in the country.
9. What kind of beer do you want to see Coppertail make?
CH: Balanced, floral, citrusy, dry IPA’s. Neat, easy drinking Florida beers and some funky, fun, Belgian Saison’s, too. I’d really like to play around with some barrel aged beers. A little bit of everything. I just want to make lots of good beer.
10. Many craft beer fans can point to an “Aha” moment when a beer really surprised them and got them interested in craft beer. Any Aha moments stick out in your mind?
CH: The first time I tried Sierra Nevada was a big Aha moment for me. How did they do that? It really made me want to get into brewing. 90% of professional brewers my age might have that same answer. Also, my first Belgian beer, Chimay, was an eye-opening experience, and that started me down the road of making Belgians.
11. We’ve noticed you like to blast music while you’re brewing? Which song or type of music makes the best tasting beer?
CH: It’s a tie. Rage against the Machine and NWA both do a great job of helping beer be the best it can be.