I recently sat down with the new Head Brewer of Tuckahoe Brewing Co. Ingrid Epoch to talk about her past, and present with Tuckahoe Brewing. Ingrid started out her professional brewing career with Devil’s Creek Brewing in Collingswood in the spring of 2016. In September of 2017, she brought her skills to Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing where she brewed until April of this year when she became Head Brewer of Tuckahoe Brewing Co. Although I only had a short time to interview Ingrid due to a rigorous brewing schedule, I got the impression that this is going to be a good fit. While she will continue to brew our favorite recipes we have enjoyed over the last 7 years, she will also bring in some new styles for us to enjoy. I’m really excited to see what the future holds for Tuckahoe Brewing. To learn a little more about Ingrid I asked her our 10 questions which is one of my favorite assignments because of the great tips and knowledge they produce.
What was the first beer you brewed, and how was it?
After reading “The Complete Joy of Home Brewing” by Charlie Papazian AKA “The Bible” to most homebrewers I knew I was going to love to brew. I started out more ambitious than most and made an all grain Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout. It had some off flavors and didn’t come out as I had hoped, but my friends liked it. They were not as experienced at the time with craft beer so they were not as critical as I was.
What is your favorite style to brew, and why?
Although I really love to brew Belgium beers there is such a broad range of answers to that question. I love brewing all the seasonal beers for the variety. I love a great Quad in the winter, and a good Saison in the summer, but my favorite time is fall when my first run of Stouts start to come out.
Do you look at ratings on Untapped, Beer Advocate, or Rate Beer, and does it influence your recipes?
More than I really should. I don’t mean to sound pretentious, but I know what I want from my recipe better than someone who is reviewing it. In the end, I want to make beer that I like to drink, and it seems most people like to drink it as well. I do like it for legitimate concerns like bad draft lines, and if there is any out of date kegs floating around out there. The best piece of advice I got was to lose my Untapped account.
How do you stay connected to the local area in relation to ingredients?
Great question right at this time. We are using malts from Rabbit Hill Farms in a collaboration beer with Slack Tide Brewing that will be out soon. We try to get local hops to do small wet hop collaboration batches. Even more local I’m trying to grow hops on the side of the building. Of course, we are using some blueberries for a Saison that we are making, and we use local produce in the Firkins we do every 3rd Thursday.
What is one tip you would give home brewers to make better beer?
Get the right equipment to measure things properly. Do not rely on the old school eyeball method for anything. Although cleaning is the biggest part, monitoring your recipes should not take a back seat. The one thing that helped me make the jump from a home brewer to a professional brewer was keeping good records. I have sheets that I write down every possible thing so I can consistently hit those marks every time. Repeatability is the difference between home brewing and professional brewing.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to open a brewery?
Save up twice as much money as you think you will need. Also, you need to realize you will need at least 6 months from the time you brew your first beer to the time you sell your first beer. What has become a common answer in New Jersey is be prepared to wait for permits, licenses, and whatever else comes up. Have your brand, know your brand, and understand it. There are a lot of great breweries making really good beer so you need to know how you’re going to sell it, and who you’re going to market it to. That needs to be part of your package from day one. The label on the outside is just as important as the beer on the inside.
If there was a beer you could brew with no regards to cost, production, or sales what would it be?
I would do a high ABV Scottish Export Stout, but barrel age it in Oloroso Sherry Barrels that they use for scotch. It would be a Scotch on Scotch. The barrels are extremely expensive, and the grain bill I have written up for it is prohibitively expensive too.
Looking back at your first day forward, what was the one thing that surprised you?
Having an insane amount of good, knowledgeable help was great. Everyone was so into the program I wanted to put into place. A lot of time when a brewer leaves everyone follows, but that wasn’t the case here.
Other than your beer, what is your go-to after a long day at the brewery?
Not to sound cliché for the area, but Tonewood’s Fuego. It’s so great, and I only live a couple blocks from the brewery so it’s easy to pop in and fill my growler.
Where do you see the brewery in a year? In 5 years?
We want to double the capacity by adding 2 more 30 BBL fermenters, and 2 additional 30 BBL Brite Tanks. In 5 years I would love to see us distributing in all of New Jersey, in Philadelphia, and beyond. I want us to be in Delaware, and possibly the eastern shore of Maryland.
Bonus 1: What was the best beer you ever had?
It was a Foudre Aged Sour Saison from Stone Brewing that I had at a dinner they hosted at The Blue Monkey in Merchantville.
Bonus 2: What do you listen to when you brew?
Almost always listen to 36 Chambers by Wu-Tang when I boil because the album is about an hour so it’s a mental focus thing since I know when the end is coming. Other than that we self DJ and someone puts on an album and we rock and roll.
Join us at South Jersey Beer Scene in welcoming Ingrid to Tuckahoe Brewing, and stop in to say hi, and have a beer. I’m really excited to try one of her recipes.
And, As Always, Enjoy Your Pour!