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Food & Drink

Tupps Brewery Transforms an Old Grain Mill Into Possibility

The McKinney brewery’s new headquarters has a unique strategy: sell beer, sure, but also give opportunities to other entrepreneurs.
By Christine Odwesso | |Photos Courtesy of Tupps Brewery
Tupps Brewery
Sow and Reap: Tupps’ new facility is located on the site of an old grain mill. Six grain bins will serve as business incubators. Courtesy of Tupps Brewery

Tupps Brewery started in 2009 with a homebrew kit and a textbook in Keith Lewis’ garage. His weekend hobby became a family affair when his kids would come home from college and brew batches for fun. Eventually, Lewis realized he could turn his hobby into a business. He started the brewery proper in 2015 with his buddy Tupper Patnode; soon enough his two sons and daughter quit their day jobs to come work with him. 

“There’s just something about breweries,” Lewis says. “It’s an interesting, welcoming vibe. You come, you listen to music, you drink a beer and hang out with your friends.” 

Housed near the McKinney Cotton Mill, Tupps brews 14,000 barrels of beer per year, give or take. The brewery sells throughout Texas, Oklahoma, and the panhandle of Florida. The problem: their current facility limits how much they can produce. 

Tupps’ new home, opening in December, is a mile up the road in McKinney, on the site of an old grain mill. The site will feature some new additions, including a 1,800-square-foot kitchen, an 8,000-square-foot taproom, and a play area for kids. The new digs will also have a stage for live music and a rentable space for corporate events and weddings. (Mother-in-law: “You want to have it where?”) 

Another highlight of the new location is something the Lewis family calls the B.Y.O.B. Courtyard, for “Build Your Own Business.” It will include six grain bins that will provide space for local businesses to sell their products and grow. 

“The criteria for the application is a little bit loose because we want to make sure that we get people with heart and soul,” Lewis says. “These will be kind of experiential things where you can go see artists in there, painting or doing pottery.”

The B.Y.O.B. program received 78 applications, with applicants ranging from bakeries and artists to mobile humidors and woodworkers. 

“I want it to be really entrepreneurial,” Lewis says. “It’s a serious business, so you have to pay to rent the space, but it’s very affordable. We don’t take any percent of sales on it, so we really want to encourage you to be in there.” Tupps will also be there to provide advice and counsel. “We have marketing and financial expertise, so we can help businesses grow. We want it to be a place where someone comes to the site, grabs a beer, and sees what’s new.”

While the new location will be a bit more modern, Lewis plans to keep Tupps’ original, rustic vibe. “We had an idea to put a little sign that says ‘Official Tupps Chill Zone’ on some of these tables,” Lewis says. “That’s really what this is about. As crazy as this world is, this is a place where people can just come and hang out.”

This story originally ran in the September issue of D Magazine with the headline, “Small Business Bubbles.” Write to [email protected].

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