It’s hard denying the popularity of craft beer. From expanding shelf space at the local grocer to breweries taking up residence throughout Palm Beach County, the market is bearing the influx of artisanal brews. Capitalizing on PBC’s unquenchable thirst for craft beer is the Boynton Beach outfit Copperpoint Brewing Company.
Located in a mixed-use zone, where the grumble of industrial machinery carries through the air from 9-to-5, brewmaster Matt Cox has established a refuge for fans of craft suds. A veteran brewmaster and transplant South Floridian, moving to Palm Beach County from Oklahoma while in high school, Cox’s brewing started as most do, in the kitchen.
“I home brewed a couple of times; they came out pretty good, “ he said. “But beer just kind of always fascinated me, the mechanical nature of it.” He eventually graduated to Brewzzi in Boca Raton, working “as an apprenticeship kind of thing, scrubbing floors, cleaning kegs…”
After that Cox joined the crew of Big Bear Brewing Company, becoming brewmaster at the Coral Springs brewpub. During his 13-year run with Big Bear, Cox won more than 50 medals for his beer, including a gold medal for his Belgian-Style Dubbel—the Kodiac Belgian Dubbel—at the 2002 Great American Beer Festival. When it came time to hang out his shingle, Boynton Beach just seemed to be a match.
“I live in Boynton, my wife was born in Boynton, so yeah, I’m a hometown kind of guy,” Cox (left) said. “It just seemed to be the best place for us.”
Located at 151 Commerce Road, less than a half mile east of High Ridge Road, Copperpoint merges the light industrial component of the brewery with a rustic, hand-hewn vibe in the taproom—there is definitely a Rocky Mountain/Colorado feel going on. With five fermenters (three at 20 bbl and two at 40 bbl), capacity hovers around 2,800 barrels a year (5,600 kegs), meaning Copperpoint is in a constant state brewing, producing a steady stable of beers for the core series (Belgian Wit, Cream Stout, Saison, IPA, Lager, and Red Ale), as well as a series of seasonal and specialty brews, all served in the taproom. With a tap tree supporting 12 branches, Copperpoint makes a point to have at least 10 flowing on a daily basis. The need to fill those taps gives Cox and crew the chance to flex their creative muscle, a point that drew Cox to brewing in the first place.
“There is so much freedom and creativity in brewing,” he says. “There are no real rules to beer; you can put almost anything into it and get really fun results.” For Cox, when creating a new beer, he starts at the end. “I imagine how I want the beer to taste, and then create a recipe backwards. That’s the fun part, molding the flavors to where I want them to be.” Cox plans to bring a 50-gallon pilot system, the same setup he used to craft Copperpoint’s initial beer recipes before the brewery was built, into the brewery for him and his crew to work on more experimental batches of beer, honing new and unusual recipes for bigger runs.
As for a signature style, Copperpoint is an equal opportunity brewer, making just about everything under the sun. But if you had to nail him down, the difficulty in crafting a well-balanced pilsner is what keeps the brewmaster brewing. “One of my favorite styles to brew is a German pilsner. Its one of the oldest beer styles around, but a lot of brewers call it one of the most difficult beers to brew. It’s light and delicate but has a lot of complexities; if there are flaws in the brewing process, they show up very quickly. If I had [to brew] one beer forever, it would probably be that one.”
To that end, Copperpoint’s German-style pilsner, the hop-forward Das Pils, has already earned a reputation, winning the Summer 2015 Mid-Atlantic/Southeast regional competition of the United States Beer Tasting Championship. But that’s not all; Copperpoint’s Belgian Wit, Witness, took top billing in its category, while their Amber/Red Ale, A-10 Red IPA (my personal favorite), received an honorable mention.
And while tallying a mere seven months of operation, Copperpoint was four years in the making, and is already looking to the future. In October, the brewery signed with Cavalier Distributing, a boutique craft beer distributer tasked with brining kegs of Copperpoint’s ales, lagers, and pilsners to area restaurants and watering holes, while the brewery itself is poised for expansion when the demand arises. Tentative plans to bring in a packaging system in 2016 will allow for Copperpoint to can or bottle their beer, while the brewery itself is fitted and ready for more tanks without disrupting production. “One of the reasons we moved into this building was the 30-foot high ceilings; vertical height is very important to us because we can put big tall tanks in there, giving us a lot of volume with a small footprint,” says Cox. “We built out the whole building for future expansion.”
This eye for the future speaks to the growing demand for locally brewed craft beer, and moreover, the location Copperpoint has established itself. Boynton Beach has poised itself to be a craft beer destination, where in just one-square mile sits Copperpoint, Due South Brewing Company (2900 High Ridge Rd), and the soon-to-open Driftwood Ales (2901 Commerce Park Road), while less than five miles away is the small outfit Devour Brewing Company. This semi-industrial corner just west of I-95 has the highest concentration of breweries in the county, and while to many this seems likes competition, Cox sees it more as community.
“I have been brewing down here for a long, long time and it’s exciting to see what’s happening in the industry. There’s a lot of friendly camaraderie’s in the industry here; we all like to kick back at the end of the day and drink nice beers,” he says. As for demand, “the public’s response to craft beer down here is great to see; there is a huge demand for local product right now.” Cheers to that.