Gold-medal Beer and Hard SeltzerJan 15, 2020 04:06PM ● By Kara Schweiss
Minnesota native Zac Triemert began working as a microbiologist and chemist with an agricultural company right after graduating from college. It was a solid career that landed him in Omaha, where he expected to stay a couple of years before being transferred to the next city. But an unexpected event changed his outlook.
“My dad, fairly young, got sick and passed away,” Triemert said. “It made me realize that life’s too short not to do what you love, so I immediately started looking for brewing jobs.”
In memorializing his father, Triemert also articulated his own purpose.
“I did a home brew in his honor called Jerry’s Pale Ale and I gave everybody in the family two bottles: one to drink and one to save,” he recalled. “I gave a little speech, and some people laughed and some people cried, and I realized I changed the experience with my beer. And that’s why I decided I wanted to do this…I’ve been brewing now for 20 years.”
A former owner of Lucky Bucket Brewing Co., Triemert’s latest endeavor, Brickway Brewery & Distillery, celebrated six years in December. Despite its association with a certain number, it’s been lucky, too.
“We began on Dec. 13, 2013,” said Triemert, who serves as president and head distiller. “If you look at our logo, the B in Brickway is also a 13.”
Brickway products also bear three words that nod to Triemert’s passion and purpose: celebrate, commiserate, commemorate.
“At Brickway, our slogan is, ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re celebrating, commiserating, or commemorating, Brickway is going to be there for you,’” he said. “I’m proud of it and I’m really working hard to get the message out there.”
The message is getting heard. Brickway’s single-malt whisky (the spelling honors the fact that Triemert earned a master’s degree in brewing and distilling from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland) has won three international gold medals in the last two years. The beer has also won honors. In 2019, its Jalapeño Pineapple Pilsner was awarded a gold medal from among 10,000 beer entries at the Great American Beer Festival.
“Our portfolios in both beer and spirits have grown tremendously,” he said. “We have probably 25 different beers throughout the year; in year one we probably had two. We have about 10 different spirits as well and our whisky program has just grown dramatically. We released Nebraska’s first-ever sherry barrel-aged single malt whisky in December. It was a huge success and if you’re a whisky lover it’s something you have to try. We also have Nebraska’s first hard seltzer. It’s called Aleius Cherry Limeade and is gluten-free; and has one carb, zero sugar, 98 calories. We hit all the buttons.”
Mark Wright, Brickway’s director of sales, said Brickway’s distribution has expanded to include retail businesses and bars throughout Nebraska and in select markets in South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.
“Craft beer in general has just exploded to where people want to try out beers from neighboring states,” he said. “One of the biggest points of difference a brewer can have is if they have a product that’s unique. Our top-selling product has been our Coffee Vanilla Stout because it’s different from what’s out there and it’s super-drinkable.”
Brickway’s spirits are also regionally successful, he adds.
“We’re really blessed that Zac has created an amazing whisky that’s won several international gold medal awards,” Wright said. “When we’re marketing our spirits and setting ourselves apart, we lean on the fact that we make small-batch whiskies and don’t overproduce, and that we’ve won multiple gold medals. If you’re going up against somebody that has media power to get their brand out there, you capitalize on the local aspect. And since we are local and don’t have to pay for all the advertising, we’ve priced it better and give consumers a better value.”
“We are making beer and spirits every bit as good as the big guys,” Triemert said.
Visit drinkbrickway.com for more information.This article was printed in the February/March 2020 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.