Talking with Ben Porter about Copper Tap House

June 7, 2014 talks with Ben Porter, Owner of Jacksonville restaurant Copper Tap House.

1. Tell us about Copper Tap House

We’re a regional craft beer and craft food tap house. The craft beer craze is absolutely blowing up in this country. What we do different at Copper is we put our craft beer with excellent food. You can go into a lot of different tap houses and they’re fun, nice, casual environments, but we put a huge focus on the food aspect of it. That’s what sets us apart from the other tap houses. Our food quality allows us to compete with any of the top restaurants in the city. Everything here is made fresh. The only thing we don’t make fresh is our fries.

2. Why don’t you make your own fries?

Because when I asked our chef to come up with fries he told me these are better than anything he could do and they’re better than what anyone else is doing. We use a brand called Lamb Colossal Crisp Fries. People generally don’t buy them because they’re expensive. Our Sweet Potato Fries are a waffle cut and they’re also a Lamb Colossal Crisp variety. They’re superb. If we could hand make our fries better we would. You have to taste them to really see what I mean. When they’re cooked they come out very crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They also stay hot for a long time so they don’t go cold even if you don’t eat them right away.

Lamb Colossal Crisp Fries

3. What exactly is a tap house?

It’s a place where craft beer makers put their beers on tap. It’s different from a brew house, which makes its own beer. We don’t make our own beer - we showcase the best craft beers from around the country.

4. Where does the name Copper Tap House come from?

It comes from brewing beer, which started in the copper brew kettles. If you look at our tap it’s a replica of a 1930s brew kettle. That was the focus and the original idea. It just hit me one day - a year before we even thought about signing the lease. I wrote it down and stuck it on the wall. At the time I wasn't even thinking of another restaurant, I just thought it was a neat idea.

Now we have many elements that re-enforce the copper theme. We have awesome LED lights that glow copper and give a completely different ambiance to the place at night. The tables have inlaid sheets of copper on the top, covered with a clear epoxy.

Taps on the Copper brew kettle

5. Can you tell us about the pennies in the bar?

Those come from the copper theme as well. At our other restaurant, The Pier Cantina, we had sea shells embedded in the bar. I wanted to do something similar here so we put in 52,000 pennies along the top of the bar and covered them with a clear epoxy. We get a lot of great comments about them.

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