By Becky Hurley | Sep 09, 2014
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Trinity Brewing Co. owner and founder Jason Yester projected that his original four barrel brewing operation in Colorado Springs would reach maximum annual production at 400 BBLs (barrels) after eight years. Turns out those projections were a little low.
“It’s our sixth year, and we’ve already expanded our brewery to a 12 BBL system, we’re producing about 1,600 BBLs,” he says.
The Colorado College grad and microbiologist major spent his early brewing career with a 12-year term working for a fellow Southern Colorado brewery. Largely self-taught, Jason’s unique approach to crafting more boutique and complex beers stemmed from years working in his organic gardens.
With backing from the brewing world’s renowned Boddington family, Yester spent the first year in business doing “a lot” of print advertising and attending 50-plus festivals and special events. After that, face to face education and social networking propelled growth.
Yester, a master brewer and one of only 105 Great American Beer Festival-approved judges worldwide takes pride in the company’s small initial carbon footprint – a key component of a successful eco-sensitive operation. But production is expanding to accommodate unexpected growth – even as it stays true to its patient, organic and artistic brewing roots. The Trinity brand is also committed to recycled materials, purchasing from local producers and composting – unusual in an industry focused on quantity outputs.
This spring Denver news media reported the company’s plans to open a second 30-barrel brewing operation in the Mile Hi city – one of the top five U.S. craft brew centers in the country. It’s a move Yester believes will not only grow Trinity’s client base, but offer a smart shipping location.
Both 375 ml- and 750 ml- bottled varieties have already been successfully introduced in Colorado and in Portland, and demand is building. A handful of cities outside Colorado have been identified as future marketing targets. Others include New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Columbus.
“Our beers tend to appeal to discriminating beer drinkers, people who enjoy the subtlety of carefully cultivated, artisanally structured flavors found in our Saisons,” he says. Practicing as a “farmhouse brewer,” he credits culinary tips gleaned from chefs he’s known and high-quality organic produce from local eco-regions for inspiration. The result: a long and ever-evolving list of Saison specialties and award-winners like Electrick Cukumbah, a Great American Beer Festival gold medal stand-out.
Trinity offers a large variety of seasonally available specialty draft beers and more than 20 different 375 ml bottled selections. Each is bottled on live champagne yeast and is designed specifically for extended cellaring.
Meteoric growth, industry awards and client enthusiasm for Trinity’s saisonal beers and artisanal ales continue to energize Yester. While he avoids naming a flagship brew, he does see ongoing production of some of the company’s Ratebeer.com top -rated sellers: TPS Report Ale, Red Swingline, Farmhouse #57, Old Growth Wild Ale, Oh Face Saison Provisional – and seasonal favorites like Emma’s Coffin Pumpkin Saison.
At the same time, he’ll need to also keep an eye on the cost of doing business. Overhead – mostly labor costs due to the extra work involved in hand-processing raw materials and more time required for aging beer in oaken casks – runs more than $500,000 annually and will only increase with expansion.
For now, however, like a fine wine or champagne maker, Trinity Brewing Co. appears ready for its quest: to elevate American brewing standards and choices for sophisticated beer palates.
Challenges: Finding and holding on to good people. “We’re like a family,” Yester says. “There’s also the growth issue, especially because we’ve been independently financed. We’re in a comfortable position today, but by 2017, we’ll need to look towards outside capital.”
Opportunities: “There’s a great opportunity in Saisons. Many people are just getting acquainted with them. With our lengthy experience and dedication, we’re excited to share our beers with new cities.”
Needs: “The regionally fresh organic produce that brings vibrancy and life to our brews. They provide the impetus to create and guide our growth.”