Tuesday, January 5, 2010

In search of ...

Stainless steel ... some extra tank space, to be extact.

Last year was a pretty good year for New Jersey brewers, with some nice spikes in growth. For instance, High Point was up nearly 30 percent as of last month. Growth is up about 45 percent for River Horse, which is where the blog's compass of discussion is pointing today.

They're slammin' busy along the Delaware Canal in Lambertville. They have been for some time, to the point where an extra brace or foursome of 40-barrel fermenters and an extra pair of bright beer tanks would comfortably ease the production pace for brewer Chris Rakow, his assistant, and the packaging staff. (There have been some personnel changes at RH, and Chris, formerly of Harpoon Brewing, has been handling the brewing for a while now.)

The pace has been tight enough to force RH to pull back on some of its product-lineup plans, a tough thing for a brewery that has been really amping up its flight of brews over the past 27 months (i.e. a double wit, a double ipa, a dunkel, a honey wheat, a stout and an unfiltered lager).

Demand for last year's summer ale trumped some jazzing up of RH's Belgian triple and a planned bottling a fall dunkel. However, RH did unveil a second season, or redux version (as the brewery calls it), of the hybrid oatmeal milk stout it debuted in 2008 in the Brewer's Reserve roster. (Note to RH followers: Consider this busy pace when wondering why the RH Web site runs a little behind on updates.)

So some more steel is rather import.

RH has been scouting around for used tanks for a while (pre-owned is, of course, more economical that commissioning a metal fabricator). But getting that optimal match between brewery needs and what's available on the market, says RH co-owner Glenn Bernabeo, can prove challenging. But, he adds, the brewery hopes something can be in place around March.

Meanwhile, look for an RH rye pale ale to come out soon (most likely draft) and the reviving of back-burnered plans to pumpkin-spice the Belgian triple.

Maneuvering room may be tight, but the folks at RH are still have some tricks up their sleeves.

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