If you’re looking for something besides the usual Miller Lite special at your local bar, Patrick Jones and Triumph Brewing Company have something new to offer the burgeoning beer connoisseur. As the head brewer at the newly opened Old City location, Jones is the man behind the scenes who creates the distinctive beers that now flow at Triumph’s third location in the tri-state area.
With eight beers on tap, you are bound to find something you like. Over the past three years, Jones has helped the New Hope Triumph location win five medals at the Great American Beer Festival.
“When I got to Triumph, I was finally able to enter the festival,” Jones said. “The Kellerbier won the gold medal in 2004, something I’m really proud of.”
Keller bier is an unfiltered Pilsner style brew that is marked by a cloudy appearance due the presence of yeast. Triumph’s new location, at 117 Chestnut St., has two floors with a bar downstairs spanning the length of the building and another bar upstairs with a view of the brewery. The building is sleek and swanky, yet comfortable at the same time.
It has plenty of seats at the bar and a good amount of tables downstairs. Triumph may look posh, but its menu serves regular pub food, like burgers and pizza, and has sufficient seating for patrons to sit down with friends and enjoy a more traditional meal upstairs in the separated dining room.
Water in Philadelphia is conducive to great beer, explained Brian Fitting, a Triumph Brewery co-owner since 2001. That may help explain the city’s storied past with brewing. Old City Tavern was the hangout for members of the First Continental
Congress in 1774, and so more than 100 years ago, Philadelphia was the largest brewing city in the Western Hemisphere.
That title stood until 1920.
Prohibition wrecked the American brewing industry and Jones explained that, by the late 1970s, there were no more than 10 craft breweries in the United States. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company of Chico,
Calif., was among the leaders of the craft beer resurgence during the 1980s. Breweries like Flying Fish in Cherry Hill, N.J., Yard’s in Kensington and Victory in Downingtown, Pa., are all proof of the renaissance. Consider Triumph Brewing Company part of that movement.
“I think the fresh beer alone will bring people in,” Fitting said. “The beer production has been phenomenal. We’re going to bring in a different crowd.” Founded by Adam Rechnitz in 1995, Triumph first opened its doors in Princeton, N.J. It holds the title of being the first brewpub in New Jersey.
In 2003, a second location opened in New Hope, Pa., about an hour north of Philadelphia. Triumph’s owners recognized the challenge of opening a brewpub in a major metropolitan area.
“[The main difference] was the cost, quite honestly. The other two locations are smaller suburbs and were pretty grassroots at the time,” Fitting said. He added that getting acquainted with the city was also part of the challenge.
That’s not to say similarities between the Princeton and Philadelphia breweries don’t exist. Both brewpubs have downtown
locations, are found in an arts centered
section of town and are located in cities with Ivy League schools.
The Old City location is surrounded by many other bars such as Mad River, Mint and Brownie’s Pub. Triumph isn’t necessarily trying to take customers away, but it’s simply offering them something they haven’t had before. India Pale Ale was first brewed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Great Britain.
Differing from other beers of the time, this pale ale contained high levels of alcohol and hops because, as an export solely to India, it needed higher levels of these ingredients for preservation of quality and taste during the long sea voyage.
According to Jones, no one in England knew of the beer until a ship en route to India wrecked and bottles washed ashore. Britons quickly realized this was the best beer they had ever tasted. Unlike our British cousins, we don’t have to wait for a shipwreck. Try the Honey Wheat or Chico Ale at Triumph Brewing Company and take a break from the pitchers of Budweiser and Coors.
Triumph Brewing Company
117-121 Chestnut Street
Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday noon to 6 p.m.
Andrew Franklin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.