Monday, July 11, 2011

Extra capacity for Trap Rock

A much-needed capacity boost for Trap Rock.

A 7-barrel fermenter is to scheduled to be installed next month to help the Berkeley Heights brewpub keep up with current demand and give brewer Charlie Schroeder some flexibility with Trap Rock's seasonal brews.

The new tank will also allow him to create a lineup of specialty brews for take-home sales.

Like a lot of beer-makers these days, Trap Rock is finding it tough to keep up with demand for its eight taps (including a hand pump) and has watched its production numbers climb as craft beer's popularity continues to surge.

Trap Rock cranked out 475 barrels of beer last year, an increase of 40 barrels from 2009. (The brewpub did 425 barrels in 2006.) That may not seem like a big figure, but Trap Rock has a 7-barrel brewing system with an annual capacity of 500 barrels. So the brewery is nearly maxed out.

Some more stats: The brewpub sold 3,594 half-gallon growlers in 2010 and is running about 100 jugs ahead of that figure so far this year. Trap Rock sold 3,050 growlers in 2009 and 2,640 the year before.

The extra fermenter, which will supplement the brewery's two 7-barrel tanks and three 15-barrel tanks, will allow Charlie to brew an extra two batches of beer per month.

"I'm brewing six to eight times a month. I need to be at eight to 10 times a month just to keep up with current demand," he says.

The additional tank will allow for monthly brews of Hathor Red lager, a beer that has been made with ale yeast on occasion to facilitate faster turnaround and not tie up tank space. Charlie says the new fermenter will prove critical for working the brewpub's Oktoberfest seasonal into next month's production schedule, not to mention allow for big beers like barleywines, strong ales, Belgian triples and imperial stouts.

Those big beers figure into Trap Rock's plans to produce a lineup of bottled specialty beers. Charlie says the brewpub plans to buy a single-head bottle filler for that task.

"I get requests to make these beers all the time and have to tell people I just don't have the room to do it," he says. "How many bottles am I going to sell? I don't know, but taking home a growler of barleywine is not ideal. You want to (drink) that when you want to, not that night or the next day."

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