Talking with Ben Porter about Copper Tap House

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

Cream Spinach Stuffed Meatloaf

28. Someone wrote that “Copper is an art gallery for craft beers.” What does that mean?

When an art gallery opens, it's going to bring in the finest artists and allow them to showcase their work. That’s what we do. We bring in the best craft beers from around the country and let the brewers showcase their craft. We put in the best tap system we could find. It looks great and it’s a great way to complement the passion these brewers have put into their beers.

29. How do you select the beers to showcase?

There are a lot of craft beers out there now so we needed to simplify things. That’s why we have the regional approach. Within each region we look for a variety that runs from lighter wheat beers all the way up to your stouts. We keep that consistent within each region. You’ll never order a flight from a region and get 4 stouts. We want to highlight the variety that comes from every region. For people who may be new to craft beers, they can order a region and see what styles they like.

30. Are craft beers regional in nature? Is there a Southern style of craft beer for example?

Craft brewers are going to make their beers with what they have available to them locally. So, in the South there’s a lot of use made of citrus ingredients and fruits. They make a lighter beer possible, which suits the area, especially when it’s 95 degrees out. Same with other regions. Sometimes there’s a seasonal element as well. Certain ingredients may only be available at certain times of the year, so we’ll get a beer for a short time, then it’s gone.

31. What’s the most popular region for your craft beers?

The Midwest. Gotta be the water because they can make some amazing brews.

32. Are there any big trends in craft beer?

IPA is huge, all across the US. Another trend is to age beers in bourbon barrels. The aging process imparts a rich, dark, bourbon flavor to the beer. There’s only so much supply and the beers are aged for a longer period so it’s difficult to add new supply quickly.

33. Why did you decide to highlight six regional areas for sliders and only four regional areas for your craft beers?

We wanted to offer a lot of choice in the regions, which is why we feature six areas for our sliders. For the beers it was more challenging because it is difficult to get beer from certain areas. Hawaii, for example, has a limited selection of craft beers and it wouldn’t make sense to feature a separate region for the limited options. Overall, having fewer regions for the beers made the most sense.

34. Do you change your beer selection very often?

Yes, all the time. We order our beers 3 kegs at a time. After the 3 kegs are gone we bring in a different beer. That means we’ve got 3 or 4 new taps going every week. There’s always something new.

35. Besides your beers you feature a number of craft cocktails. Can you tell us about them?

With craft items like our cocktails it’s extending that idea of taking a little more care and doing something special. You can see it in how we put our cocktails together. The fruit is on the bar and we cut it in front of you. It takes an extra minute to do it fresh like that but it’s what sets a craft cocktail apart - and you can taste the difference. That extra care extends to other ingredients too. For instance, the Rasberita uses Herradura Reposado tequila, Cointreau and muddled fresh raspberries. Our twist is to add a craft beer floater to the top of the Rasberita. You’d think that tequila and beer sounds awful but it’s fantastic, a really refreshing combination.

36. What’s the most popular cocktail?

Our Old Fashioned is our number one seller, without a doubt.

37. What’s next for Copper?

We opened on November 1st [2013]. At first we focused heavily on our kitchen side and I’d say that’s pretty well perfected at this point. We’re focusing hard on the service aspect now. We want our servers to be knowledgeable about what we’re doing and we want everyone to be on point. That takes time but we’re getting there. Once all that’s in place we’ll start implementing menu changes to bring new things in on a regular basis. We want to eventually add live music, probably later in the Spring or Summer.

38. Have you ever considered brewing your own beer?

I have. The size of Copper doesn’t allow us to brew here and I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but it’s something I’m thinking about for future plans.

39. Anything else?

I just want people to know that we’re a different sort of tap house. We take our craft beers seriously but we also take our food just as seriously. Our food isn’t an afterthought, it’s central to what we do and to what makes us different. Our goal now is to educate people about what we’re doing and to encourage them to try us out. A flight of regional beers along with 3 regional sliders is a great introduction to both our food and our craft beer.

Owner Ben Porter

13500 Beach Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL
(904) 647-6595

Sun - Wed 11am - 11pm
Thu - Sat 11am - 2pm

About the writer interviews are conducted by Jacksonville Beach resident Gerry Glynn. When Gerry isn't talking with restauranteurs he is working for a local software company, training for his next road race, and hanging out with his wife and dog.

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