Note: This article is second in a 3-part series on beer in Durham.
As Fullsteam prepares its operation for an opening this summer, Triangle Brewing Company, Durham’s first microbrewery, is celebrating its third anniversary with a new canning line and increased capacity.
Andy Miller and Rick Tufts, founders of Triangle Brewing Company, have kept themselves busy the past three years expanding their brand and fostering an appreciation for Belgian-style ales in North Carolinians.
The two owners, themselves both starting out as home brewers over twenty years ago, never intended to open a Belgian brewery. In fact, the pair didn't begin to appreciate Belgian beer styles until after Tuft’s internship at Flying Fish, a Belgian-inspired brewery in New Jersey.
Prior to that, Tufts and Miller’s beer recipes focused on traditional American craft styles such as pale ales and IPAs.
To be fair, Triangle has a diverse beer repertoire representative of more than just Belgian styles, having featured stouts, pale ales, amber ales, and even a rauchbier in their seasonal lineup. The Belgian-style beers have remained their mainstays, with the Triangle White recently surpassing the Golden as the top seller.
Triangle has made a name for itself in recent years. If you walk into any bar in central North Carolina, you can expect to see at least one of their beers on tap.
Durham, of course, remains a stronghold for TBC beers—many Durhamites love their beer almost as much as they love their hometown, so a Durham-brewed beer is a top choice.
And in order to keep their customers happy, Triangle is now expanding their fan’s options for getting their next TBC brew.
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Triangle’s new canning line, due to arrive this month, is able to package 70 cases of beer in an hour.
The new line’s speed stands in stark contrast to their initial attempts at retail, which consisted of hand-filled bottles, a time-consuming and tedious feat of manual labor. The bottles sold as quickly as Triangle could cap them (by hand), with Sam’s Quik Shop and the Weaver Street Market unable to keep the product on their shelves.
To match the new ability to efficiently package their beers (and keep up with draft demand at area restaurants and bars), Triangle is also in the process of doubling their brewing capacity. Last month, new, larger fermentation tanks and a finishing tank arrived, allowing Tufts to double each batch to 20 barrels (600 gallons). And Tufts and Miller have brought on their first full-time employee to assist in the brewing.
The initial canning line-up will consist of Triangle’s two best-selling beers: the Golden Ale, a Belgian-style strong ale, and the White, a Belgian witbier. The beers will be packaged in 12 ounce cans with artwork evocative of the original packaging of Genuine Durham Tobacco, one of Blackwell Tobacco’s original brands.
Staying true to Durham is important for both Miller and Tufts.
Traveling the country as members of military families in their childhood, the pair met in Connecticut during high school. After parting ways for college, the two by chance settled in Durham, having learned the art of home brewing in the intervening years. After deciding to open a brewery, the entrepreneurs scouted locations throughout the Triangle. Tufts and Miller chose Durham for its love of beer, availability of warehouse space, and, of course, the taste of its drinking water.
Since they’ve opened, Triangle has been one part of a greater renaissance in Northeast Central Durham, with previously-vacant warehouse space around them receiving new tenants, including the Lewis & Clark business space right next door.
Additionally, Tufts and Miller also try to give back to both Durham and North Carolina whenever possible. Last month, TBC hosted This Machine Kills Cancer, a benefit for a local musician battling cancer and the resulting medical bills.
And Triangle uses local ingredients when available-- the wheat featured in the Triangle White is raised in Scotland County, increasing the demand for NC agriculture.
To celebrate their first three years of operation, Rick and Andy will be hosting a pub crawl this Saturday, July 10.
The crawl is an anniversary tradition, with last year’s event drawing upward of 250 people. This year’s event begins at 3:00 at the James Joyce.
At each establishment visited, a keg of one of Triangle’s offerings will be tapped. After the keg finishes, the crawl will advance to the next destination.
For those eagerly awaiting TBC offerings in cans, the wait will only be a few weeks more.
Triangle’s canning line is due to arrive this week, and beer should appear on shelves in August.Image courtesy Triangle Brewing Company.