How long would it take to try 25,000 different beers? With the volume and variety available today, probably not as long as you would think. But for Bethesda couple Bob and Ellie Tupper, who started logging tasting notes in 1979, the answer is 35 years.
The Tuppers are the "gypsy" brewing team behind Tuppers' Hop Pocket beers, which were produced at Old Dominion Brewery before it was sold and relocated from northern Virginia to Delaware in 2007. First released in the mid-1990s, Tuppers' beers were well-regarded forerunners of the now common genre of aggressively hopped American pale ales.
Bob, a high school history teacher, and Ellie, a production editor of scientific books, have visited many states and nearly every European country—several of them multiple times—in search of beer. They also tried many out-of-market brews right here in Washington as hosts for the many tasting events at the Brickskeller (now Bier Baron). Their credentials as beer drinkers have helped the husband-and-wife team formulate the recipes for their own beers.
Tonight, the Tuppers will officially log their 25,000th beer, a 7.9-percent alcohol rye pale ale packed with American hops, including their favorite varietal, Mount Hood. The couple brewed the aptly dubbed "Tuppers' 25K" with former Old Dominion head brewer Favio Garcia at Lost Rhino Brewing Company in Ashburn, Va., not far from where Old Dominion was located.
The meet-and-greet begins at 6 p.m. at Lost Rhino, and the Tuppers will do their official tasting at 7:30 p.m. The event is pay-as-you-go with no admission charge. Part of the proceeds from beer and souvenir glassware sales will go to The Reading Connection, an organization that provides books and literacy-rich activities for families in shelters and community centers.
Wondering if any Tuppers' Hop Pocket will be poured? Sadly, no, as the last batch came out last summer, and the Tuppers are no longer working with St. George Brewing in Hampton, Va., which picked up production in 2010. But do not fear: More Tuppers' beer is on the way.
Tuppers' 25K is actually a trial batch for a bigger beer to come out this fall, also from Lost Rhino. Mother Tupper's Back of the Cupboard Imperial Rye PA will celebrate Bob's mother's 94th birthday in November and continue to age with her. This year the brew will be 9.4 percent alcohol and have 94 IBUs (a measurement of bitterness in beer). Next year, it will be 9.5 percent alcohol and 95 IBUs, and so on. (Let's hope for many so ons.)
Something else to look forward to this fall will be a book by the Tuppers: a guide to enjoying beer in 24 cities in Europe.
Photo by Tammy Tuck
Lost Rhino Brewing Company, 21730 Red Rum Drive, Suite 142, Ashburn, Va.