Friday, February 23, 2024

A first look at Tupps' new location in McKinney

A view from the balcony outside the rentable office space in the production building at Tupps (all images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

After over four years in development, Tupps Brewery is finally ready to pull back the curtain on its massive new facility near Downtown McKinney.

Conversations surrounding a move and expansion for Tupps began in 2019, with an official press release announcing the brewery's plans coming in July 2020. The setting for the new showplace to be a 4.3-acre site at 402 E. Louisiana St., with the project involving the repurposing of a 1900s-era grain processing site in the city's Historic Mill District.

A few finishing touches are still being applied, but Tupps welcomed visitors for a sneak peek during a preview event earlier this week. And to say the multi-faceted, multi-structure campus is impressive would be an understatement to say the least.

Tupps at twilight - taproom (left), production building (right).

The famous saying "everything is bigger in Texas" immediately comes to mind when walking the grounds. Comparing the brewery's new home to its previous digs inspires the obvious modifier, because now everything is bigger at Tupps.

Taproom? Bigger. Beer Garden? Bigger. Brewhouse? Bigger. You get the idea.

Beginning with the taproom, it now occupies the original grain milling building. Inside, features include multi-level seating areas, a full kitchen, and a bar backed by a two 20-handle tapwalls fashioned in the shape of giant barrels.

Just behind it is another building designed to function as an outdoor beer hall. Here, the old taproom will essentially be re-installed, providing a connection for those nostalgic for days spent at the brewery's first location.

Then, there's yet another building devoted to production - details on that to follow.

Tupps' brewhouse and equipment (left/right), and barrel-shaped tapwall (center).

Intermingled are countless other amenities. There's a dedicated kid's area, bocce ball court, swings, permanent vendor space (for the BYOB - Bring Your Own Business - program), and a stage for live music performances fronted by amphitheater-like lawn seating.

And, if you want to take your concert viewing experience to the next level, you can rent out an office space in the production building. This comes complete with its own kitchen, private bathrooms, and outdoor balcony seating which overlooks the stage below. You might say it's a little like having a suite at the AAC.

It all leads to the conclusion that Tupps may be a craft brewery first and foremost, but what the company has created with this new space is nothing less than a full-on, family-friendly entertainment destination.

Plus, the place has character. The historical setting is one thing, but Tupps has also added vintage touches here and there sourced from not only the grain mill, but the family's own treasure trove as well. Some would call them conversation pieces, but 'talking points at Tupps' seems a better turn of phrase.

More on individual aspects below.

The Beer

Brewing operations have been underway for a number of weeks inside Tupps' four-story, 25,000 square foot production center. Chris Lewis, head brewer at Tupps, is working with a 4-vessel, 60-barrel brewhouse manufactured by Deutsche Beverage & Process. Additional equipment includes a 15-barrel pilot system, along with the requisite array of fermentation tanks.

"The beauty of this facility is we don't have to brew 24 hours a day," says Lewis. "We've got bigger equipment and we can do a lot more volume, but we've got the same crew from before doing the work."

Ask what the real game changer is, though, and the answer will likely be the loading dock, which facilitates distro pickup.

The Food

Leading the kitchen at Tupps is Sean Frye, whose resume includes stints at Jasper's, Abacus and other restaurants founded by Chef Kent Rathbun.

Frye's everyday menu will be straightforward, but executed at a very high level, according to Chase Lewis, vice president of finance and strategy at Tupps.

"Kind of what to expect is brewpub-like food," says Lewis. "The menu is loaded with appetizers and bar snacks, but then you've got six awesome sandwiches, two or three salads, and two or three entrees. You're coming here to eat a burger, or a sandwich, or a taco, or maybe something like beer-battered salmon fish & chips."

A large smoker will also be employed on site, allowing for the creation of go-to barbecue items. And beer-inspired dishes? Those will pop up from time to time too.

"I want to take craft beeriness and inject that life into the kitchen to do weird, fun, innovative things," says Lewis. "Hopefully some of those ideas will turn into really cool specials."

The Economics and Future Outlook

So, what drove this all-encompassing expansion?

For Tupps, it wasn't an issue of needing more capacity to fulfill orders for a flagship beer driving the brand, but rather sales data suggesting an increase production was in play for all of its year-round products.

"As we've grown up, core beers like Juice Pack, Evil Dankster and Tupps IPA have had steady growth for years and years," explains Lewis.

Given that, rather than chasing trends and being dependent on the success of hype beers that come and go like the breeze, foundational products will be the focus at Tupps going forward.

"I think stability will be the thing in the next ten years of craft beer," says Lewis. "It's about the stability of your base, and being a trusted brand that makes a good portfolio of different beers you can trust."

Along those lines, Lewis says balance and drinkability will be key for the future. That, and leveraging the brewery's size, scale and efficiencies to provide value to its customers.

In other words, Tupps hopes to provide patrons with the ability to enjoy beers they want to come back to, without breaking the bank.

The Introductory Events

The public's first chance to take in Tupps' new surroundings will be during Festival of Darkness 2024, happening tomorrow - Saturday, February 24 (click here to purchase tickets).

Grand Opening Weekend takes place March 9-10, with live music on the bill, the soft opening of Tupps Kitchen, and the debut of the BYOB Vendor Space (click here for more information).

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