Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Friday, October 9, 2015

New Hope's Triumph--12 Years later

The kid is now 22...
With my then pre-teen in tow, I visited and reviewed Triumph's second brewpub on its opening day back in April of 2003. With its huge silver tanks overlooking the bar, the New Hope facility was said to have cost in the $2 million range, but it was playing off the long-term success of Princeton's unique brewpub, just the second such to open in New Jersey after The Ship Inn in Milford. 

There were questions then. Would it catch on? Would it thrive in this "catchment area" and bring a good ROI? Would it be as successful as the first?

Brendan Anderson in the Princeton pub
Yes, yes and yes. According to Head Brewer Brendan Anderson, the New Hope pub produces just as much quality craft beer as the busy Princeton one, and there's even a new brewpub gestating in Red Bank which Anderson expects to be up and running within a year. His job is to oversee the brewing operations at all of them.

In the New Hope facility, he works with a Somerset County, NJ guy named Matt Suydam of the legendary Suydam Farms.

With a history dating back to 1713, the farm still provides produce for local restaurants, and it was the site of a nano-brewery experiment some years ago. Growing its own hops, the small operation originally called Great Blue Brewing actually produced a Scarlet Red Ale, but nano-sized production was not sufficient to slake the passion or the thirst of Farmer Matt, who had home brewing experience. So he applied for the spot at Triumph a few years ago; he's been there ever since. And he's loving it.

Matt Suydam and Brendan Anderson
The PubScout tried and enjoyed Matt's Oktoberfest, and sampled a Kellerbier and an Alt. Both were drinkable--maybe even sessionable--  although the alt did not have the usual darker color of the style.

The food was up to Triumph's usual high standards, and with a slight chill in the air by the river, the Potato Leek Soup warmed my cockles. The Potato Pancakes were delicious, and both paired up very nicely with the Oktoberfest.

Then Brendan told me about some beers Triumph was doing in collaboration with Dad's Hat Rye Whiskey Distillery in Bristol, PA.  They already produced an IPX, essentially their amped up (8%) Bengal Gold aged in those rye barrels. 

Barrel Aged IPX--8%
But he suggested another. Called Barrel-Aged Brunch Stout, the bottle-conditioned beer is aged in rye whiskey barrels from the distillery. Anderson added, "It's not available quite yet, but will be in the coming weeks. It was aged in Dad's Hat barrels for seven months and was bottled roughly one month ago. [It's been] conditioning ever since. It's [a] work in progress!"

I carefully transported a 750 ml bottle home in my saddlebags and assembled a topnotch, three-man tasting team for an evening evaluation. we evaluated the beer in a minimum of five categories (color, nose, mouthfeel, flavor and finish) with a total of 25 points achievable per evaluator. Two team members rated it 21 out of 25, and one gave it a 25. 

Evaluating the Barrel-Aged Brunch Stout
One, who viewed this 8.7% ABV beer looking down into the glass with light overhead, described the color as "Coca-Cola-ish," though holding it up yielded an opaque impression. A strong, high-alcohol nose-(which did not indicate how very smooth it would be on the palate) was so pleasant that this evaluator sniffed again before each sip. And, make no mistake, this is a beer to sip casually with good friends from snifters around the fireplace on a chilly Autumn night. Or you could get the same effect sitting in Triumph's comfortable outside seating area as the sun goes down and the river damp rises. 

If you're a stout-lover, you''ll enjoy Barrel-Aged Brunch Stout.
Even if you never have it at brunch.

Clearly, good things are (still) happening at Triumph.

The PubScout

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