Regulars at the Tin Bridge Brewing Company in Westfield have the two brewmasters’ dad to thank.
“Our dad was a big influence on us. He would go out and look for a few interesting beers to bring home for us to check out along with dinner. He pretty much introduced us to the craft beer experience,” said Joe Cocchi.
“Then back around 2013 my brother Nick and I went to a bar and grille and they had some crazy drafts on tap, like peanut butter beer that we now brew. They had a very interesting lineup of flavors, which encouraged us to start home brewing. So, we went online and ordered what we needed for stovetop brewing and began experimenting with making our
own batches of craft beer,” he said.
It became a healthy obsession for the two brothers, who would get together on the weekends to come up with some “crazy” concoctions. A half-joke from someone about opening their own brewery in the future eventually led them to fulfill what was slowly but surely becoming their dream.
“The time was eventually right and we purchased the equipment needed, then found a building next to the Big Y on 487 East Main St. in Westfield, whose price was affordable for us,” said Cocchi, who runs the business with his brother, both putting in 60 hours of work a week.
“We were excited and stressed at the same time for almost a year as we prepared to open. But, I wasn’t too worried about our new venture. There wasn’t a lot of competition in Westfield for us, and if you make a good beer, people will come. We don’t sell our beer in cans and there are no kegs for distribution, that’s the part of the business that is very competitive. We just wanted to keep it simple, and still do, having people come to hang out in a cool place with many craft beers to choose from on tap,” Cocchi said.
What followed was a year of gutting the building and months of experimentation with their new brewing equipment and different ingredients to create their inspired brews. The end result was a micro brewery that features a large taproom that looks into the brew house, and includes a long bar, communal tables, shuffleboard and a few classic video games in a very earthy, woodsy environment created with the help of their father and other friends.
When it came time to decide on a name for their new venture, the brothers settled on Tin Bridge, named after a nearby railroad bridge that faded out of use and had become a local hangout spot for the brothers as they came of age.
WHAT'S ON TAP?
The Tin Bridge Brewing tap list
11 oz. pours are $6 and 16 oz. pours
are $7 – includes at times:
(American Wheat – 4.2% ABV)
Passion Fruit IPA
(American IPA – 5.5% ABV)
(Tangerine/Vanilla Ale – 6% ABV)
Italian Plum Crisp
(Pale Ale American – 6% ABV)
Operation Citra 6.0
(New England IPA – 6.5% ABV)
(American IPA – 7% ABV)
(Double IPA – 7.6% ABV)
(Double NEIPA – 8.5% ABV)
Peanut Butter Porter
(Porter – 6.2% ABV)
Toasted Coconut Stout
(Chocolate Stout with Coconut
– 7.2% ABV)
(American Imperial Stout
– 7.5% ABV).
People have their favorites, Cocchi noted.
“Our Peanut Butter Porter has always been our most popular beer. People love peanut butter and this beer will actually transform non-beer drinkers. We had a man come in with his significant other who didn’t like beer until she tried our Peanut Butter Porter. A lot of people like our Operation Citra. It’s one of our staples and is always on the beer menu. If it ever runs out on a weekend our regulars want to know what happened. Our Tangerine Creamsicle had such a great response that people asked us for more, so we did one more batch and we are bringing it back,” Cocchi said.
In the months ahead, the brewers plan on introducing a number of new brews for adventurous beer loves to try.
“The whole point is to keep offering new flavors. Our two-year anniversary is on October 5 and we plan on bringing back our Graham Cracker Blueberry Pie beer. When we first announced it, we had people lining up for it. Around Halloween we will introduce an Imperial Pumpkin Stout. For Thanksgiving, we plan on having some sort of cranberry beer, which we’ve never done before. It may be more of a dessert beer,” Cochhi said.
Tin Bridge is a brewery, not a brewpub. So, don’t expect to step up to the bar and order a burger or sandwich. But, there is food.
“We’ve never opened or ran our own business before the brewery. We figured we had enough to do without trying to run a kitchen, too, and we knew nothing about the food industry. But we did know about food trucks which we had seen around when traveling, and they have become so popular in the last decade. So, we decided to try bringing food trucks to our property,” Cocchi said.
The brewer said it was a challenge at first to get food trucks.
“Our business was new and people were just learning about us, so they weren’t making a ton of money with us. That is, until our business began to grow and people were lining up at our door,” Cocchi said.
Now, Cocchi said they have no trouble attracting popular food trucks to serve up their taste-tempting menus, including 7B’s Bar & Grill Smokin’ Bullet, Thai Chili, North Elm Butcher Block, Cousins Maine Lobster, Crazy Arepas, Local Burger and others.
As for the future, Cocchi said he “gets bored easily” and is “always thinking.” But while the brothers hope to continually grow their venture, they don’t want to become a “giant,” “small is cool” from their point of view.
“We need to make and save money. We’re buying new equipment all the time and have expanded our brewing capabilities by four times since opening. Building out in the future may be an option to make our tap room bigger, and we would like to expand our patio in the spring with outside seating. It’s just nice to keeping moving forward,” Cocchi said.
Bartenders serve up pints and flights, and growlers are also available along with Tin Bridge Brewing merchandise. Hours are Thursday and Friday from 4-10 p.m., Saturday from noon to 1 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.
For more information, visit tinbridgebrewing.com
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