David Zugerman is beaming on a beautiful Sunday afternoon as he scans the full bar top on the weekend of the one year anniversary of his establishment, the Tucson Hop Shop.
"This is better than I could have ever possibly imagined," David says.
"It's sort of like a dream."
Music is playing, the bartenders (or, beertenders) are running around fulfilling orders while also trying to clean specialty glasses that go with some of the more, shall we say, elaborate craft creations they have on their near 20 taps lining the back wall. Everyone is in a good mood, people are making happily surprised faces after tasting a Thai Cream Ale and it is obvious that business is booming.
This is good news and a rarity for a rather hidden place such as this in Tucson.
"I still can't believe it," he says.
Back in September 2015, in the Metal Arts Village just off of Dodge Boulevard and Ft. Lowell Road, a curious little venture set up camp amongst the whimsical sculptures and rusty installations created in the open lofts. Two beer lovers and cycling enthusiasts, David, along with his wife, Jessie, decided, after years of planning, to open the doors of the Tucson Hop Shop for fellow dedicated malt quaffers, as well as the not-yet-initiated to the fold and froth, and everyone else that just wants to hang out in a comfortable spot with friends, relax and drink some amazing ales and lagers.
"Like all great ideas," notes Jessie Zugerman looking back on the early early days of the Hop Shop's inception, "the idea for the Hop Shop came about out of necessity over a couple of beers. We needed a satisfying life project and path for us, but also wanted a craft beer watering hole on our side of town (north central)."
Jessa says there was a point in 2014 that she and her husband like to call their "do or die" moment when they stopped daydreaming and put their business plan into action. They knew Tucson was a craft beer town, but it was missing in their neighborhood near the Loop by the Rillito River.
"It has been sadly under-served as far as a real beer destination is concerned," she says. "We knew we wanted to fill that gap."
It didn't take long for word to get out about what the Hop Shop was doing and, most importantly, where they were. Serious beer heads, and even the casual curious connoisseur of sudsy goodness, began the trek to their nestled location to see if they could keep up with some of the other more popular ale-centric establishments around town.
Before they knew it, David and Jessie had a solid fan base and one that continues to grow as they continue to grow as a business.
"We've always had our fears and reservations, as I'm sure all small business owners do," Jessie muses juggling their two daughters, one 4 and the other 8. "All we ever wanted was to keep our doors open, our customers and employees happy, support local artists, brewers, vendors and serve the best range of beers that we can get our hands on. To those ends we are insanely happy, and always surprised, about our success."
To say that the Hop Shop challenges the beer-drinking public to try something new and hard to come by is putting it mildly. On most random days you can find small barrel beers from a remote outpost in Montana; a rough oak stout made by forgers and trail seekers that both invites and accosts the tongue and brain. Or perhaps a tipsy sour grain brew that is tart and citrusy with hints of wild berries and even tobacco that makes you question everything you have ever considered "beer" before, mostly those that include the word "Lite" after their name.
On top of some of the most creative beers available anywhere, the Tucson Hop Shop is also host to a number of fun events, such as beer brewing classes, DJ nights from local audiophiles from independent record stores, bands and, most importantly, food trucks. In just one year the Hop Shop has become a viable destination for all whims of the palate and soul.
Oh yeah, and they have a killer back patio, too. It's best to get there on a temperate night to sit back and gaze at the stars while sipping a cool frothy beverage. Which is just what Jessie was about to do when asked about what lies ahead in the coming years, for her, David and the Hop Shop.
"We just want to keep expanding the beer pairings and events we host, to keep making connections with the people that make Tucson awesome," she says, "to keep promoting bike riding in the community, to keep teaching our daughters to follow their dreams and to keep fantasizing about a Hop Shop 2."