24 November 2023

European pilsner brewery Trumer adds new taproom in Berkeley

USA | Trumer Brewery, one of the few US craft breweries to brew European style pilsner beers exclusively, opened its first fully-fledged taproom this autumn, with a beer garden and pilot system producing lagers, including a schwarzbier and both highly hopped and unfiltered pilsners.

The Trumer Brewery in Berkeley was established in 2004 as a sister brewery to the centuries-old Trumer Brauerei in Salzburg, Austria, thus combining the heritage and tradition of European brewing with the energy and passion of American craft brewing. Although the US firm shares the name with the Austrians, the owner, the Gambrinus company from San Antonio, Texas, bought the brand for the US in perpetuity.

The goal was to create a single beer, Trumer Pils, and to give beer drinkers in the US a classic pilsner the way it was meant to be enjoyed: fresh. It is packaged in green glass bottles, the default for many European imports. The beer has won many prizes – 18 gold medals from the most prestigious international beer competitions to date -, making Trumer Pils the most awarded pilsner beer in the world.

Raw materials from Europe

Trumer’s master brewer, Lars Larson, who has been with the firm since the beginning, explained why they do not brew any IPAs: “We’re going to stick very closely to our European roots.”

The only changes they made to their Berkeley brewed Trumer Pils were due to crop year variations, and those come about annually, good years and bad. Instead, they have kept their compass at True North, as it were, using imported German malt for the proper flavour profile as well as German and Austrian aroma hops.

Mr Larson admitted that this has not always been cheap, especially now that shipping costs have skyrocketed due to the pandemic and the uncertainties with finding containers in the world market, but they found a way to make it work. Part of that strategy has been to have good long-term contracts with their raw materials suppliers, Mr Larson added.

Craft lagers have caught on

Craft lager in the USA is booming, not least thanks to Yuengling and Boston Beer’s huge lager volumes, which are included in the Brewers Association’s annual tally. There are even craft light beers, which enjoy a 1 percent share of the craft beer segment in the off-premise.

There were not many craft lager breweries when Trumer started in 2004. Nowadays there are quite a few that are dedicated to just lager. Most of the 9,000 or so US craft breweries will have lagers, in particular pilsners, in their portfolios, even if they specialise in ales.

To Mr Larson, this signals that a certain segment of the public has come around to appreciating the flavour profile of lagers. But maybe they are only weary of high hopping levels. Nevertheless, IPAs and Hazy IPAs remain the most popular beer styles in the American craft beer market.

Trumer is a local beer

Demand for Trumer remains strong, Mr Larson said, but with the growth in the popularity of lagers, the competition has also got a lot stiffer and very broadly spread. “Many craft beer drinkers focus on their local and regional breweries, and if their local is offering a lager portfolio, then it is more difficult for us to step in and supply the market,” he explained.

After dedicating itself to the local market, Trumer is now pushing further into the Californian market, as out-of-state markets have become more challenging. Trumer’s output has remained stable for the past 15 years because many consumers, including journalists who should know better, still think of Trumer Berkely as a subsidiary of Trumer Salzburg. “We have never claimed that this is the case, we explain our situation, but people make assumptions and the spread of that misinformation just carries on,” Mr Larson said woefully.

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