Whether it’s the spacious layout, the near floor-to-ceiling windows, the affable brew aficionados or the beer list which sports the affectionately named “Trump Sucks Ass” — something about Hopsters in Newton just feels like home. It’s a feeling that, according owner Lee Cooper, is not accidental.
“We wanted to share the mentality that craft beer really is for everyone, and it doesn’t need to be intimidating,” Cooper says. “We’ve become a destination not just for people who really love beer, but for those who want to learn more …without the intimidation of a serious craft beer bar.”
We spoke with Cooper following our own preliminary experience at the brew-your-own-beer startup, which, since its inception in 2013, has become something of a local favorite.
Patrons can indulge in a tour of the brewery, delicious beer and food at the bar, or, if they’re feeling particularly adventurous, a step-by-step tutorial on how to brew their own beer. The latter process, which is Hopsters’ calling card, can take a couple hours; but fear not — the bites, brews and several TVs are more than enough to pass the time.
Think of it this way: Hopsters is a place with all the know-how and attention to detail of a craft brewery, but with the appeal of a sports bar — i.e., if you get lost in the science, feel free to just get lost in the sauce. The aesthetic is somewhere in between.
We passed the time with three IPAs: the Comet Citra, the Newtonian (both $8) and the Ship of Fools ($7). The Ship of Fools is a bitterer West Coast IPA, while the Comet Citra and Newtonian are New England IPAs with tons of aroma-forward hops. They have big, juicy flavors that burst with tropical fruit aromas. At 8.4 percent alcohol by volume, the Newtonian will knock you on your rear end at 9.8 meters per second. But don’t worry — what Cooper calls the “pillowy mouthfeel” will soften the blow.
Of course, lost in the amiable atmosphere is Cooper’s anything-but-passive plan for expansion. Construction plans for a Fort Point location are underway, and that’s just the beginning.
“I first started Hopsters as a way to make the cask ales and beer varieties I enjoyed at home in the U.K. more accessible in the U.S.,” says Cooper, who grew up in Liverpool. “Now we’re working to open up a second brewpub in the Seaport. After that, our goal is to expand into other cities.”
The opportunity to brew your own beer, Cooper says, is a draw in itself, and a niche many cities need filled. But the convenience of having a brewpub right down the street, affably churning out fresh IPAs, is perhaps even more tantalizing for prospective customers.
“It’s typically pretty hard to find a fresh New England IPA without spending a few hours driving or waiting in line,” Cooper continues. “But because we’re a small brewpub, we’re able to consistently brew two New England IPAs each week and ensure that they’re always on tap.”
See the beer, make the beer. Walk down the street and drink the beer. Yeah, we think there’s a market for that.
Visit Hopsters, 292 Centre St., Newton, hopstersbrew.com.