Triumph Brewing – The Brewery Tour
My ever supportive wife set up a meeting with the brewmaster at Triumph’s Princeton location for me to come down a talk beer with him, how great is that? Since Princeton NJ is a bit of a hike from where I live I was anxious to make the most out of this meeting.
I met Tom, the Brewmaster at Triumph Princeton after his work day; not know what to expect I was pleasantly surprised how friendly and knowledge Tom was. After a couple of minutes describing what was doing with beer, writing reviews, podcasts and homebrewing, I asked for a tour of his facility. Tom brought me up to the top floor of the brewery where all the grain is stored, milled and the mashing/boiling occurs. Tom brews a fairly wide variety of styles of beer so he generally has 10,000 lbs of grain on hand and about 14 styles of hops. He’s making both ales and lagers, American English and Belgian styles of beer… Right off the bat, I was envious and we hadn’t even looked at the equipment!
As it turns out, Tom is the original brewer for Triumph, 14 years strong. This man has tons of brewing experience and has basically been the sole brewer for Triumph during his tenure. He
knows what sells in the Princeton area and seems to have found a balance between pushing the envelope and retaining the hundreds of beer drinkers which visit the brewery every week.
I know only a beer geek would get excited over the grain bill… well at least I can admit I’m a beer geek! After the grain storage we followed the grain conveyor to the mash tun. All I can say is I wish I had a 10bbl mash tun. The mash, wort, and boil area was immaculate, as far as a commercial brewery I suppose it was small only 10 bbl, but this setup was very impressive for a brewery which only sells the beer out of it’s taps.
The next stop on the tour went from the 3rd floor down to the second floor to the
fermentors. Using gravity, the wort flows down from the 3rd floor to the ferementor on the second floor. These are 12 bbl conical fermentors, which digitally temperature controlled for both ales and lagering. This is also where the yeast is added; Tom says he has been preferring Wyeast lately, using up to 10 generations of the yeast.
My favorite part of the tour, no not the bar, but the cooler where all the vessels are kept that supply the taps at the bar. IT is a really cool room with a bunch of 10bbl vats, one used as a cask it was a site. There was even a oak barrel with a double IPA the should be ready in the next couple of weeks. I hope I’m around to sample that one.
All in all it is a really impressive setup. I really didn’t think that it would be as extensive for just a brew bar, but with the volume they are sell Tom has done an impressive job keeping the taps flowing with some malty goodness.
I wrote a review of triumph about 4 weeks about and aside from the Dry Irish Stout, Honey Wheat, and the staple Amber Ale it was a completely new selection of beer. Unfortunately there was no Amarillo IPA, but a strong standout of beer. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Honey Wheat or the Dry Stout, so this time around I had the Saison, Bengal Gold IPA, Amber Ale and the cask ESB.
The Saison, in Tom’s words was “No Saison Dupont” but that is just a really special beer. The Saison at Triumph was definitely better then the Victory Saison we had during Beer Brawl 6, had some nice citrus and pepper notes, just wish it was a bit dryer.
The Bengal Gold IPA was a pretty good IPA, no where near the Amarillo, but had great clarity, nice citrus and mild pine aroma with strong hop bitterness. I have to admit that I did bring a growler of this beer home.
The ESB Cask all was the best of the lot in tonight’s tasting it was lush creamy and really was a great example of an ESB. I was actually surprised with the level of carbonation coming out of a hand pump, very nicely done.
This was a great trip for me, I left with a feeling that I this scale of brewing is still something I want to do, probably more so then the day before. I left Tom with 3 examples of big beer that I had brewed, I hope he enjoys them.
And finally special thanks to Tom Stevenson and Eric Nutt for allowing me access into the brewery and making this article possible.