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Master Brewer of the Month: Casey Hughes
Coppertail Brewing Co is an independently owned production craft brewery and tasting room in the historic Ybor neighborhood of Tampa, FL.
It was founded on the desire to bring more quality, Florida-brewed beer to the thirsty masses.
“Florida Inspired. Tampa Brewed”.
The brewery became operational in the summer of 2014. The staff brews on a state-of-the-art 50 barrel Rolec brewhouse, with 1,000 barrels of fermentation space with tanks ranging from 30 barrels to 200 barrels. Casey Hughes, Brewmaster at Coppertail, tells us something more about him and his job.
Casey, when did you start your career as a Brewmaster?
I started brewing in 1995. I just turned 18 and moved to Key West Fl and got a job at Key West craft brewery.
Are there any funny stories you would like to tell us about this period?
When I started brewing I moved into an apartment in the brewery, but I wasn’t legally allowed to drink for 3 more years until I turned 21. That’s pretty unusual: a professional brewer who is legally prohibited from drinking his own product!
Coming to Coppertail, where does this name come from?
Coppertail is a sea monster that lives in Tampa Bay. We know this because our owner and founder’s 5-year old daughter (at the time) told us about it!
Somehow, though, it seems like the perfect name for this brewery. Coppertail is the strange and fantastic that lurks beneath Tampa Bay. Coppertail is dreaming of the impossible.
Kind of like a craft brewery going up against the giant mega-brewers. Or like a home-brewer putting everything on the line to start a brewery. We believe in Coppertail.
Which beer do you like making best and why?
I like making lager because the they are delicate beers that are more challenging to make than some ales. We are doing a lot of mixed culture fermentation things in our foeders too that are fun. The constant evolution of the beers when aging is quite cool.
Is there a beer that you haven’t managed to taste yet that you’ve always wanted to?
I just got back from a festival in Tallinn Estonia and there were a lot of really cool farmhouse beers that were there. They brew with a lot of regional ingredients that make the beers very unique.
Outside of brewing, what are your other life passions?
I love to go fishing, boating, diving… pretty much anything on the water.
Do you think the aesthetic aspects of a beer bottle or can is important (artwork, label, etc.)?
The aesthetics of artworks are important, but I think what’s inside the package is the really important thing.
Can equipment “make the difference” during the production process of a beer? In which way?
Equipment is very crucial to final product. Having a line that can keep your DO’s (dissolved oxygen) to the minimum is so important for your beer. It’s one of the reasons that I’m on my third CFT Group line now!
Which equipment of the CFT Group are you working with? Which are its main advantages for your production process?
I have worked with CFT Group bottle fillers, can fillers and labelers. The support, quality and reliability of the equipment makes it so that I don’t have to worry about packaging.
Which advice would you give to someone looking to become a brewer?
If you want to get into the brewing field be prepared for hard work and long hours! Hard work and a person that can stay busy and think on their feet are the biggest things that I look for when hiring. I also believe that there must always be room for improvement: if you think that you don’t need to learn more, you are already doing something wrong.