Hopsters Brew and Boards Lets Anyone Create Their Own Beer
Lee Cooper is happy. Like, really happy.
“I’m living the dream,” said the beer-brewing company owner. “I’m making beer. I really can’t complain.”
Two weeks ago, Cooper and his wife, Karen, officially opened the doors to their own community micro-brewery, Hopsters Brew and Boards, where customers can come in and create customized alcoholic beverages based on their favorite types of beer, right there on the spot.
Cooper said the concept has been done in other parts of the country, but there’s nothing like it locally. “What we wanted to do is take the old concept and really sort of revamp it,” he said. “We will ask you what beer you like to drink. If you say you don’t like dark stouts, we won’t talk about dark stouts. We have thirty recipes, but if someone wants to go off the reservation and do something different, we can change the recipe to coincide with what people want to do.”
Once the beer is created, with the help of master brewers, and using choice ingredients that are locally grown, customers return weeks later to collect their bounty, and take home their personalized concoction complete with custom labels. “It’s obviously a very unique idea, but a lot of people are looking for something to do outside of just going to dinner. Coming to create your own craft beer is something to do,” said Cooper.
Cooper said thanks to the buzz around town, business has been steady since the get-go at Hopsters Brew and Boards, which is situated in Newton Center, right off of the Massachusetts Turnpike. “The weekends have been pretty slammed,” he said, recalling a Saturday morning where he walked into the shop at 10 a.m., only to be met by a bachelor party “in full-force,” ready to brew. “Whether it’s been a birthday party for someone’s dad, or something else—I have been getting calls about corporate events as well. We are still getting the message out, and people are still trying to figure out what we are about, but it has been busy.”
In just two weeks, Cooper’s company has brewed more than 140 batches of original beer, hand-crafted by customers.
Part of that buzz was generated through social media, prior to the community brewery opening up, after Cooper launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise additional funding for the project. In less than 30 days, Cooper and his wife brought in more than $40,000 in donations from the public, surpassing their initial goal.
While he said it certainly helped the cause, the campaign was less about scraping together cash to make his dream come true, and more focused on getting people talking about the idea of a brewery location where people could learn how to create their own product. “This was a $1 million investment. But Kickstarter was a way to get people interested in what we were doing, and get them involved. It was a way of giving people an opportunity to come and brew with us,” he said.
It also gave him a chance to get feedback from residents about what they would like to see the project encompass, while recognizing the importance of community. “I wanted people [who donated] to be a big part of that process.”
Even though everything is up and running smoothly—Cooper’s community brewery features 10 boilers used to create beers—there is still more to be done, including securing the proper pouring license from the city of Newton, so that people can actually drink the beers on location. Right now, they can only make it, wait roughly two-hours for it to boil, and then pick it up in the following weeks to take home and enjoy.
Cooper estimates it could take anywhere from three to five weeks to get the license he needs, but once he has it, he plans on putting beers on tap created by customers as a way to show them that Hopsters is as much a place for people to congregate and call their own, as it is his own personal dream business. “I think there is a new age about what people are drinking and what they want to know. We want to be a hub in Boston for craft beer, so we would love to have other peoples’ beers on tap,” he said. “We don’t want to be the place where you go for dinner; we want to be the place where you come in, make some beer, drink some beer, and hang out.”