GRO: Hello and thanks for taking the time to join us. For those who aren’t familiar with you, tell us a little about yourself and your brewery.
TC: Well first off thank you for asking to speak with us. My name is Forrest Cheney, and am the taproom manager of Twisted Copper Brewing Company. Twisted Copper started as a homebrewing club 9 years ago making five-gallon batches of beer with store bought kits on my porch. Five gallons of beer doesn’t last long when you’re splitting it between four people and it goes even faster as the group's membership grows. During the past few years, we started acquiring bigger pieces of equipment to make larger batches of beer, we moved away from using those homebrew kits with their cans of syrupy malt to all grain brewing, and we developed our favorite styles to fit our personal preferences. As the years went on we bounced the operation from house to house till we outgrew that as an option. So now here we are! We all have our homes back to ourselves and Twisted Copper Brewing Company is opening its doors April 21, 2022.
GRO: That's pretty awesome, my wife wishes she had her kitchen space back free of fermenters. What was your introduction to the craft beer scene?
TC: My introduction to craft beer came in the form of a bottle of Tripel Karmeliet, a very fine Belgian beer that I recommend everyone try. Before that I was drinking your standard light American lawnmower lagers, I had no idea beer was anything else. So that bottle of tripel I started to branch out more, at that time the good beer section of most stores consisted of Fat Tire, Blue Moon, and Guinness. Don’t get me wrong, those are all very well made beers, but my curiosity had been lit on fire and I outgrew them very quickly. And that continues to happen to this day, I’m still running the gauntlet of styles but the finish line keep getting farther away from me as the years go by because every style has its various sub-styles now. You’re seeing imperial pilsners, hazy IPAs, and sour milkshake gummie worm bacon ales! It’s a tough job but I feel up to the task.
GRO: I feel that in my soul (lol), there are so many inventive breweries pushing the boundaries of style and ingredients that once you're down that rabbit hole like Alice you might as well enjoy what this Wonderland has to offer! How did you get into the craft of making beer?
TC: When I was a teenager somebody gifted my mom a homebrew kit (not always the best gift because she ended up having to buy several pieces of equipment like a large pot, bottle capper and long spoons to even use it) she asked me to help her make the kit and even though I couldn’t drink any, I helped her anyway. It was fun! I enjoyed the process and watching the beer develop in its bottles over time. I thought it was fascinating and I ended up helping her make a few more kits. Surprisingly quite a few of those bottles went missing and I've got no idea what happened to them.
GRO: I feel you. That is a good reminder I'm gonna have to keep an eye on my bottles at home as my kids are hitting their teens, they enjoy helping me cap them! What is the best piece of advice you received as a novice brewer?
TC: Clean everything thoroughly and be patient.
If you clean everything well you’ll reduce the chance of an infection and if you wait long enough for the beer to develop you can enjoy it in all of its wonderful and uninfected glory!
GRO: As Tom Petty said "The waiting is the hardest part". What made you decide to open your own brewery?
TC: We did it for the world. We make good beer and it would be selfish to keep them all for ourselves.
GRO: On behalf of the world we thank you and your friends for your selflessness! Do you consider yourself a traditionalist or more of an experimentalist when it comes to brewing?
TC: I’ve actually been out of the brewing game myself for some time now. Dave Weaverling and Jon Hatcher take care of that these days. I have however weaseled myself into being the quality control taster for the brewery...so yeah I’ve got a pretty sweet job haha! But I'd say we’re more on the traditional side of things. Our preferences are in the classics category with lots of inspiration from German and British brewing history.
GRO: Some would say you have the best job! I can see the the traditional influences within your offerings of the Dunkel, Helles and Marzen. Everything is in the name right? How did you settle on a name for your brewery and what made it feel right?
TC: When we were starting to collect equipment for our homebrewing operation we wanted a wort chiller (wort is unfermented beer and the sooner you chill it the sooner you can add the yeast to start it fermenting) but we didn’t want to pay full price for it. So Dave is looking at these wort chillers and says “It’s just a coil of copper tubing with hose attachments at each end. I can make that” and bless his heart he did the best he could! Instead of a tightly wound coil of copper, he ended up making something that looked like a modern art instillation (imagine a slinky that had been put thru the dryer). We laughed at it and called it unrepeatable names, but at the end of the day it worked! This thing actually chilled the wort faster than anything we’d tried before. Though eventually we did buy a manufactured one that worked so much better! Anyway fast forward a few years and we’re trying to think of a name for the brewery we plan to open. We ran thru every obvious and absurd name we could imagine and then Dave sends a picture of his attempted wort chiller “How about Twisted Copper” we all liked the idea immediately and he said “Oh I was just joking...but ok!”. I like Twisted Copper as our name because it reflects the DIY nature of our group. We didn’t have a beer for sale nearby that we wanted to drink so we made it, we couldn’t afford the things we wanted so we made it. We were trying to figure out a name that was personal to us and that piece of twisted copper tubing perfectly embodies who we are. If you take a look inside our taproom you’ll see all this beautiful wood work that was done by members of our group, Brett McDavid and Ian Nicholson. They put a lot of hours in on building out the taproom and it looks absolutely incredible!
GRO: The little details and pieces to the brewery are beautiful especial behind the bar. All the hard work definitely paid off and translated into an awesome atmosphere. My visit to the taproom was my first trip to Mt. Pleasant, tell us a little about your location and how it came to be.
TC: The brewery is located in Mt. Pleasant TN (the former phosphate capital of the world and current dimple of the universe). We have a really great location in the super cute downtown area where we’re surrounded by great food, people, and other small businesses. We’ve received an overwhelming amount of support from the community and many are just as excited as we are to open!
GRO: I can see the work the local community has put into the downtown area. Revitalized downtowns are one of the things I am passionate about! Columbia is another great example of what a focus can do for a downtown area. Speaking of other areas what is one of your favorite beers you have had at another brewery?
TC: That’s an easy one: everything from Blackberry Farm Brewery! I met the head brewer of BFB last month at the Farm to Taps festival in Nashville and I totally fan-girled out at him for awhile.
GRO: They are an awesome brewery for sure. Out of the beers you’ve made, I know they are like your children, but is there one that is your favorite or at least your favorite to see on the menu?
TC: Ok don’t tell the other beers I said this but it’s our Pistachio Nut Brown Ale. It’s pretty special and dangerous to leave me alone with a keg of it.
GRO: Your secret is safe with me, that one looks intriguing for sure hoping I get to make it back soon around your grand opening on April 21 to be able to try it before it gets gone! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat can't wait to see what the future holds for Twisted Copper!