Not because a tornado touched down its backyard last year, although that disaster might have been the catalyst one of the tap house’s newest endeavors — but just what that is, they’re not yet saying.
Either way, Hopper’s currently has enough going on between tap takeovers, festivals and projects that their new General Manager, Traci Huggans, is working on.
Huggans only just joined the Hopper’s family in May, but she says it feels like a lot longer. She’s been hard at work developing new promotions for the tap house, and says that owner Glenn Ains has given her the reigns to do pretty much anything within reason.
Because of Huggans’ efforts, Hopper’s is all the more welcoming for those who might not consider themselves craft connoisseurs. Because, let’s face it, the craft beer community does have a reputation for being a sort of insider’s club. Who do you think you are, walking into this brewery like you own the place when you don’t even have a malt-encrusted beard or the ability to taste the subtle differences between a Gose and a Berliner Weisse?
Despite the stereotypes, most craft beer drinkers aren’t snobs. However, it can be intimidating for the uninitiated to see 38 craft beers on tap — plus four domestics, giving Hopper’s a total of 42 draft beers — and having to pick one, especially when you don’t know if you even like beer in the first place.
Hopper’s has plenty of regulars, but not all of their customers are beer drinkers. To provide a little something for everyone, Huggans been expanding the wine menu, and also recently added “Hop-Tails” to the lineup. Hop-Tails are beer or wine-based cocktails that come in flavors like CoCo Mango (White Mango Hoop Tea and wine-based coconut rum) and “Chickyrita” (Burley Oak’s Sorry Chicky sour with wine-based agave tequila and a splash of lime).
Because Hopper’s itself doesn’t serve food, which they leave to the other businesses under the 1400 Pavilion (currently Wayback Burger, Wingin’ It and Smokin’ BBQ Grille) bartenders have more time to spend with their customers and help them choose the perfect beer, for those who are looking to try a new brew.
“The bar staff that we have is extremely trained and they love craft beer, and they know how to get that taste profile out of a person,” Huggans said.
Beer drinkers or cocktail lovers, anyone is welcome to hang out under the pavilion, even if they’re just there for a bite to eat. (And they’re welcome to hangout if they’re underage, but the abundance of signs around the cafeteria makes it pretty clear that no one under 21 is getting served alcohol. They are right next to a university, after all.)
Coming soon: There will soon be a new pizza restaurant filling the spot where DaNizza Pizza once was, and replacing the old grilled cheese restaurant now is a fully-functioning arcade. Air hockey, foosball and arcade games are available for the kids and kids-at-heart, in addition to the cornhole by the picnic tables.
“Once the pizza place comes in we’ll be a one-stop shop for families,” Huggans said. “Anyone can have a date night here and come play games, drink beer, eat food. It’s kind of neat.”
Even without the pizza, it seems like the business already is a family-friendly one-stop shop. She just purchased over 30 new board games for the tap house, so customers can sit at the bar and play cards, or in a booth with a full-fledged game of Monopoly.
But one of the most exciting things that’s soon to hit Hopper’s is SeptemBEERfest, their second-annual fall festival that focuses on rarities from local breweries.
The festival falls on Sept. 15, the same weekend as Ocean City’s Bike Week, and there will be at least 15 breweries in attendance pouring non-mainline beers.
“It’s stuff that we usually get exclusive, because we have the most taps in Salisbury,” Huggans said. “We have to stand out somehow between all the festivals in September and October.” (Add Brews on the Beach and OCtoberfest to that fall festival lineup and there will certainly be a lot of beer-drinking going on this fall.)
Between SeptemBEERfest, new restaurants and game rooms coming in, and weekly events like Monday Bingo, Tuesday Tap Takeovers and Wednesday night “Kick the Keg,” it seems like the bar with 42 beers on tap has 42 different things going on at any given moment. It’ a good thing they’ve got a great new manager to handle it all.
(Disclaimer: We might be a little partial to Traci, as she used to work at Shore Craft Beer. 😀)