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Triangle Brewing Company - “Trying to brew beers that don’t suck.” - and succeeding

http://www.trianglebrewery.com | Updated: 04.01.2011 |

 

Rick Tufts and Andy Miller are serious about their goals to make good beer and “Trying to brew beers that don’t suck” was almost the first thing out of Andy’s mouth. My first stop on the Fishing for NC Beer did not disappoint.

Established: Opened July 4th, 2007

Owner: Rick Tufts and Andy Miller

Brewer: Rick Tufts

WWW: http://www.trianglebrewery.com

Location: 918 Pearl St, Durham NC 27701

Distribution: Distributed in the Triangle by Harris Inc and RA Jeffrey’s.  Both draft and cans

Brewing:
Year Round Offerings
Triangle Belgian-Style Strong Golden Ale
Triangle White Ale
Triangle India Pale Ale

Seasonal Offerings
Triangle Stout
Triangle Belgian - Style Abbey Ale
Triangle Xtra - Pale Ale
Rufus Reserve Series
Triangle Imperial Amber
Triangle India Pale Ale (100th Batch IPA)
Triangle Mild Ale
Triangle Habanero Pale Ale (Befuddled Anglers Favorite!)
TRUB Smoked Porter
 

Accolades:
Triangle Belgian-Style Strong Golden Ale
Bronze Medal - 2009 Carolina Championship of Beer.
Triangle White Ale
Silver Medal - 2010 Carolina Championship of Beer
Triangle Stout
Silver Medal - 2009 and Bronze Medal- 2010 Carolina Championship of Beer
Triangle Imperial Amber
Silver Medal - 2009 and 2010 Carolina Championship of Beer
Triangle Bourbon Aged Abbey Ale
Silver Medal - 2009 Carolina Championship of Beer
Triangle Belgian-Style Abbey Ale
Bronze Medal - 2009 Carolina Championship of Beer
Triangle Xtra - Pale Ale
Bronze Medal - 2009 Carolina Championship of Beer
Triangle Habanero Pale Ale
Bronze Medal - 2010 Carolina Championship of Beer.

I file my first report with an apology, this report will be incomplete until I can return to Triangle Brewing In the Bull City of Durham. Triangle Brewing Company (TBC) offers a fair-sized menu of year round offerings and as much as I wanted to, I could not taste them all in one sitting. Had I gone through the menu, I would have ended up sitting half stupid on the loading dock staring at a couple of silo elevators for the rest of the day. Ok I did that too.

 

So my first stop on this tour taught me a lot, primarily:

Ask the questions first, Then sample the beer. Preferably not at > half pint pulls . (thanks guys, it was a magical day drinking your beer!)

 

I arrived at TBC, ignored the simple wood casket in the floor and found Andy Miller doing what I figure he does best, improvising to succeed, as he attempted to improve the wash system on his canner.

 

But before I could ask what he’s doing, I had to recover from seeing a canner in a craft brewery. After years of beer myths and suffering from the “bottles are better” philosophy, I was quietly shocked to walk and see a canning operation in place. I spluttered as much to Andy.

 

He looked at me and asked, “Do you know what kills beer?”

 

Before I could render anything resembling an intelligent answer, other than “Me.” Andy returned, “light and oxygen -- What’s the best way to protect your beer from both -- cans. Combine that with the impact glass has on the shipping footprint, it’s fragility/loss factors and the logical result is a win/win for TBC customers who prefer cans in their stores.”

 

Well, color me stupid, this here beer tour was already starting to pay off!

 

Triangle is canning two of their beers, the Belgian Style White and Gold Ales. Their other beers are available on tap and in growlers in pubs, stores in central North Carolina.

 

Following their passion, the commitment to the art of their craft defines their product, not the cool hand of marketing. Andy was quick to point this out as he pulled my first sample from the tap. “We’re about a consistent, quality product. We are not hiding adequate beer behind a clever name, logo, website, and beer pull. We spend our time and money on ingredients and recipes that speak for themselves.”

 

As a graphic designer, I was hurt a little, sniff. However, all disappointment in his branding rebellion would be washed away in a wave of golden liquid goodness, with my first sip.

 

 

Local farmers, local ingredients, small footprint and big savings

Fully assimilated to our backyard, owners/brewers Rick and Andy embrace NC with an enthusiasm and sincerity that made this native feel humbled and a little jaded in my perspective of the state in which I was born. They are committed to bringing local good with their company and the proof is in the brew. With many of their beers, they are putting a little bit of NC in each batch. Calling on local farmers for ingredients, they are conscientious about their environmental footprint and they want to see their company help our states agriculture economy and of course getting great beer in the process.

 

While all breweries have to go around the world for a full range of hops and malts, they utilize un-malted red wheat from Scotland Neck. They worked with Whole Foods to source coriander from Roxboro, NC. The habaneros in the Triangle Habanero beer are grown locally in Durham. Likewise their cans are sourced out of Reidsville, NC. While the primary ingredients in beer are not readily avialable in NC, both Andy and Rick referenced  the developing hops program evolving out of NC State School of Agriculture. “If anyone can pull this off NC State will, they have an amazing school and they are committed to bringing this crop into the purvey of NC Ag. The Hops Project is being born out of demand by the quickly expanding craft brewing industry. I got the genuine impression Andy and Rick are excited to witness the dramatic ripple the craft brewing industry is making in NC economics and they are proud to be at the center of it’s origin.

 

As they put a little of NC in their beers, they also give back to NC. Their mashed grain is provided free of charge to Chatham County cattle farmers for feed. Andy sampled some in front of me and encouraged me to try it. With a little trepidation I tasted some. Expecting bitter sawdust I was surprised at the sweetness, lucky cows. All in all, these two fellows are not only brewing GREAT beer but also having an impact on the local economy. Their approach to business seems efficient, smart and ecologically sensible. They are doing a lot for two guys and an first employee.

 

The TBC crew put in a pretty amazing schedule, they brew twice a daily and are in the brewery 12 hours a day. They are currently brewing around 1000 barrels a year but have plans to expand their operation. But, they are careful. “The mantra is consistency,” Andy said. “Our biggest concern about expansion is making sure the TBC brew you are having now, is exactly the same as the one you had yesterday.”

 

About that Coffin

While the operation occupies basic warehouse space the space is not without some legend. When renovating the warehouse before they moved in, the body of a man inside a bag was discovered within the crawl space. Authorities investigated and took the body away and not much more has been heard of it. After great discussion and debate, “many beers were drunk”, Rick and Andy decided to name him “Rufus, the Patron Saint of TBC”.

 

The coffin started to make a little sense now. The simple pine box casket was built in memory of Rufus (meaning “red”) and at their appearances, every now and then you might get to sample the “Rufus Reserve” served straight from the box.

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