Located in Gardner, MA, Tophat Brewery started out in 2004 as a couple of turkey fryers on the back porch. My friend Josh and I were watching an episode of Monster Garage where they made a brewery in the back of a fire engine. We both thought it looked pretty easy and decided it would be fun to make our own beer. We hopped into the car and drove all over Mass looking for a homebrew store that was open. Finally we succeeded and bought a basic starter kit. We brewed up the batch of extract beer and were surprised when it was actually good beer. I was hooked.

After brewing a few batches, reading countless threads on Beer Forums, and reading a few books I decided to give All Grain a try. I purchased a cooler from Wal-Mart for my mash tun. I decided to try batch sparging because setup was cheap and easy. After one or two batches I realized my 7 gallon turkey fryer pot was not ideal. It was small and flimsy, plus the weldless valve I installed kept leaking. I decided to get a sabco universal kettle. I used the old turkey fryer pot as my HLT. With every batch I brewed I looked for ways to make the process simpler and more efficient. Craigslist was my best friend as I looked for the equipment that would soon develop into the brewery I have now.


setup on the back porch Fermenting in a carboy in the kitchen

By now I was collecting too much brewing paraphernalia. It was a real pain in the ass packing and unpacking everything every time I wanted to make beer. There just wasn't enough room on the back porch. Plus, it got real hot in there with 2 burners going full blast. I decided something needed to be done. My basement, although empty, was a dump. Also, there was the problem of running a propane burner inside that held me off for a while. Finally I found my answer. Electric kettles. I cleaned up the basement, put up some walls, a ceiling, and had myself a brewery.

The name Tophat Brewery came from my kegerator tap handles given to me as a present from my sister. The image is me from my wedding, wearing a tophat, that was etched into the handles.

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