Pub Review - Triumph Brewing (Princeton, NJ)

member_headshots_20081217_1815175631 Triumph Brewing Company is a regional brewpub operator with locations in Princeton, New Jersey, and New Hope and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Located next to Panera Bread on Nassau St., Princeton, one can find their original location that opened in 1995. The first purpose-built brewpub in the state, the 12,000-square-foot facility features thirty foot high ceilings, seating for over 250 people, and a two story glass enclosed brew house which is a non-automated 11-barrel stainless steel system. It's pretty sweet to look at over a pint or two.

I visited on a Tuesday around 3:45 pm, as I walk up to the entrance, I see half mature hop plants growing up around the flags that market Triumph to passersby, a great touch that reminds me of establishments I've visited in Germany. As you walk in you go down a slight decline through a long corridor where one can find some local postings, musicians scheduled for the next few weeks, their current tap list, as well as a promo for their "Gambrinus Dinner Series", which looks to sport a fine lineup of pairings as I look at the previous week's menu. A $65 prix fix menu typically includes 5 courses paired with not only their fine house beers, but also some special one-time creations from their head brewer Tom Stevenson. Thursdays they have live music without a cover, while Friday and Saturday five bucks get you access to some live local tunes.

Once through the corridor, Triumph opens up as a visually appealing space that could be called industrial chic; open air in the middle area, brick walls, painted steel, with a painting mounted near almost every table. There is table seating on the first and second floors, as well as some booths down by the bar area. I walked down to the longer area of the L bar, and upon sitting down I grimaced as I saw I was a day early to sample a special tasting of a single batch Grand Cru. Apparently on the first Wednesday of every month around 6pm, the head brewer breaks out a single firkin (small wooden cask) of a creation not found on the basic tap list for about an hour handing out free samples while discussing the brew with patrons.

On the wall they have what is currently in the fermenters, which looked good to me, a Simcoe IPA and a German Style Pilsner, mmmmm, summery. The current tap list consists of a Honey Wheat, Amber Ale, American Lager, Irish Dry Stout, Bengal Gold IPA, Witbier, and a Bitter on the hand pump where it belongs. I started with the Bitter, Burton-on-Trent style, very easy drinking with a nice flavor profile, a fine example of the style. I then ordered a Tuscan Bar Pie; olives, onions, and peppers, very basic but tasty as I know many of their dishes to be. I've eaten here a few times before; the food has always been a bit above average, if not a touch pricey, which is to be expected for the area.

Next I tried the Pacific Amber Ale, my favorite style on tap. There's something about pacific ales that quench the need for some excellent hop character without the palate blasting bitterness. It was excellent, smooth, crisp citrus hops up front, nice finish, a real winner. My bartender, Justin, took care of me, and was open to my asking him to blend beers off the tap as I usually do, a good man indeed. Based off of the tap list and my personal preferences, I decided to get a 50/50 blend of the Pacific Amber Ale and the Bengal Gold IPA. I went with this based off of my want for something with more hop presence than the Amber, but not as bitter up front as the IPA. The Amber mellowed the bitterness of the IPA very well while the Bengal Gold IPA truly complimented the crisp clean taste of the Amber, a winning combination and my favorite of the evening. Overall, the beers on tap all fit their style profiles quite well, the bartender was attentive (although I know things get crazy in there when the college crowd swarms in, so keep in mind what time you go if you don't like a crowded scene), and the ambiance is nice. This is definitely a place to try, and the surrounding town offers a fun day out whether you're with family, friends or a significant other. With all of their locations, I'm not sure what the excuse is not to stop in for a pint and a bite. Cheers.