Last year, Eric Stevens was raising funds to open Traust Brewing Co. in Wesley Heights.
Then COVID-19 came along.
With breweries across the nation pivoting to off-premise, curbside and delivery options, Stevens decided to take a moment to re-evaluate. He’s still interested in bringing his Scandinavian-inspired taproom to the same location in Wesley Heights, but for now he’s focused on getting his beers in the hands of beer drinkers near and far.
“We were thinking, ‘What is it that we can do at this time?’” Stevens said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to have friends all around the city in the brewing industry. We had the opportunity to start producing and basically work on the selling and retailing direct to consumer.”
That opportunity came shortly after Thirsty Nomad Brewery closed its doors over the summer. Stevens has known several of that brewery’s owners since their homebrew days. The building was already wired and plumbed for a brewery, but Stevens did bring in his own three-barrel brewhouse and his own fermenters when he moved into the space.
While Thirsty Nomad had a taproom, Traust is only brewing out of the facility. Stevens is aiming to release four different beers each month. He’s brewing on a small scale and typically gets just 25 cases per batch, but the size of the operation has its benefits. “It’s actually kind of nice to be on a small scale and not have that huge overhead that we would,” Stevens said. “Now we can actually take time to determine what the best way to survive is and modify our trajectory one way or another.”
It has also given Stevens the chance to refine his beers. He said he has received great feedback on the beers he released last fall, which included MÜN JÜS, a hazy rye pale ale; SKÆR KRØ, imperial hazy IPA; HAMMØK FJÜL, a Nordic cream ale; and ØBLYGATØRIJ GØRD, an imperial pumpkin ale.
New craft beer release
This Friday at noon, Traust will drop four new beers: SNØ SHÜS, a Nordic cream ale; WYNTR SØLSTIS, a spiced winter ale; HÜMÜLØ, a classic IPA; and BONFYR, an imperial sweet stout.
Stevens hopes his beers will be in area bottle shops in the future. For now, you can order online and have your beers shipped, or the brewery will deliver to several local ZIP codes with a $50 minimum purchase.
If you couldn’t tell by the beer names, Traust Brewing Co. draws inspiration from Scandinavian culture. Stephens credits a visit to Väsen Brewing Co. in Richmond, Virginia, with sparking his interest in the region and its customs. “I kind of took an interest in Scandinavian culture then,” he said. “A trip to Denmark and a trip to Iceland later, I was hooked. I love the northern European culture.”
He fell in love with the people, the landscapes and, of course, the beer. He was particularly enamored with farmhouse beers that tasted unlike any other farmhouse ales he’d had. While Traust will brew a wide variety of styles, all of its beers will use Kveik yeast or a blend with that yeast in it.
“Everything is finished in a Kveik way, and we’re going to continue to do that,” Stevens said. “I think that’s another way we can stay true to that Scandinavian heritage.”
That heritage will find its way into the taproom, which will feature a clean and minimalistic design with natural elements that he thinks people will enjoy.
“We really want to get them in the taproom,” Stevens said. “We’re working on that, because that just lends to the experience. This was always supposed to be an experience-based taproom. My goal was to make it an experience-based taproom that put beer first.”Until then, you can purchase Traust’s next batch of beers starting at noon this Friday. On Feb. 1, the brewery will also release cans of Court Shoes Only, a collective beer that several breweries around town are producing for the Queen City Brewers Festival and its nonprofit partner, ACEing Autism.
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