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Triton Brewing expanding at home and into Kentucky and Ohio

A chat with David Waldman, Triton's chief of operations

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TRITON BREWING
  • Triton Brewing
Triton is increasing its brewing capacity to meet its growing distribution within Indiana and to expand distribution into Kentucky and Ohio along with broadening its neighborhood service base.

The ‘official release’ from the State of Indiana reads: “Triton Brewing Company, a traditional community-based production brewery, announced plans today [Oct. 16] to grow its brewing and distribution operations in Indiana. The company, which recently celebrated its five-year anniversary, has increased its production nearly tenfold since 2011, and its beer is now available in more than 1,500 local and national retailers statewide. Triton Brewing Company, which has brewed more than 1,100 batches representing 128 of its brands since 2011, will invest $435,000 over the next three years at its Indianapolis facility near Fort Benjamin Harrison…” 

David Waldman, chief of Triton operations, emailed: “Basically, the State of Indiana made some training dollars and tax incentives available to us as we expand and add jobs. This expansion will include adding additional equipment, a kitchen at the brewery and staff to support this growth. The expansion will help us to provide a greater level of service to our patrons and our partners in the State of Indiana and to begin to develop distribution outside of the state in Kentucky and eventually Ohio.”

Here are Waldman’s replies to NUVO’s specific queries about the excitement and challenges ahead:

NUVO: Are there particular regions within Indiana you are targeting for expansion?

Waldman: Triton Brewing Company products can be found statewide in Indiana. Our distribution partners, World Class Beverages/Monarch and Indiana Beverage have done an impressive job helping us “cast our net” in Indiana. Indiana Beverage [distribution of Triton beers] is up around 19% in the north end of the state [since the beginning of 2016].

triton.jpg
About 60% of our product is package. Bottles and cans have found their way into the small retailers, groceries and the big box stores. Bottles are still the biggest part of our package sales, but cans are gaining popularity in the market. We put different brands in bottles and cans, with the exception of the Rail Splitter IPA. The flagship goes in both bottles and cans.

NUVO: Why are Triton brews "warm shelf" safe for sale in grocery stories, etc?

Waldman: There really is a combination of reasons why Triton Brewing products are safe on the ‘warm shelf.’ First, we use our laboratory work to ensure that only the highest quality product leaves the brewery. This laboratory work ensures that the product will have the best shelf life possible.

Triton Brewing has instituted a “best by” date on the labels for all of our package to insure that we know when the product is best. We prefer that consumers enjoy the product on or before that date so that the quality and freshness are at the peak levels and the beer is less than 90 days old. Our distributors agree to destroy package after 90-days as a final layer of quality control.

We take this very, very seriously and regularly audit our package dates and assist our distributors in maintaining the high level of expectation.

NUVO: Are you planning special sale kiosks featuring Triton to set Triton apart from "lost on shelf space"?

Waldman: There will be some floor displays around this fall/winter at various retailers. These placements are done on a case by case basis (excuse the pun).
NUVO: Where do you hope to expand?

Waldman: Currently we are only in the state of Indiana. We are focusing initially Kentucky and then Ohio. Each state has its own set of laws related to craft beer and its own collection of distributors. Making the move out of state requires gaining a basic knowledge of the laws related to our product in that particular state and finding a distribution partner that “jives well” with our culture and philosophy. Choosing the right partner to move your product can be the difference between success and and failure in a market.

NUVO: Will you target specific brands for expansion?

Waldman: Every market is a little different. In some neighborhoods, cans are king. In other neighborhoods its bottles only. Different brands play well in different areas, too. Through discussions with our distribution partners we tailor the brands to the market. This is part of the nuance that you negotiate when you expand your footprint and look at new markets.

NUVO: What kind of food will you feature at the Fort Ben production site? What will be the Broad Ripple Tap Room's role in expansion plans? Will food trucks still pull up?

Waldman: Developing a kitchen seems to be the natural progression of things. We are developing the menu as we speak. With housing construction going on all around the brewery, it makes sense that we add to the services we provide and the kitchen is the next step.

During the development and budgeting stage we are looking at a simple, fresh and diverse menu. Pairing the food with the beer is essential, as is cooking with it. We will also have kids options to further enhance the family-friendly aspect of what we do. At the brewery in Lawrence we have indoor seating for 70. When the weather is nice, we gain another 30 seats in the beer garden. We will never forget our relationship with the food trucks and we hope to book them for special events, etc. ...  

Triton Tap is very much its own ‘beast.’ In many ways it is a laboratory that we can try new things. The lessons that we learn and the expansion will inevitably have an impact on our Broad Ripple location. The significance of that impact is yet to be revealed.
David Waldman with Triton's brewmaster Jon Lang - TRITON BREWING CO.
  • Triton Brewing Co.
  • David Waldman with Triton's brewmaster Jon Lang
NUVO: What sets Triton brews apart from other craft beers? What has been the driving force for a growing loyal patronage base for Triton?

Waldman: Quality and consistency have been our “watch words” since we started. This drives everything that we do. From tempering the water that we use to produce our product to how the product fares on the shelf, our unyielding focus on the quality and consistency over the life of product is essential to who we are. This combined with more than 30 years of commercial brewing and packaging experience in a company that is just celebrating our fifth anniversary gives Triton Brewing Company a unique position in our markets.

When Blind Owl opened on Indianapolis’ east side on July 3, 2015, as part of our story NUVO asked the already established breweries — Bier, Triton and Scarlet Lane — to talk about their experiences in their specific neighborhoods. We repeat here the responses from Waldman and Triton Brewery:

NUVO: What has been special about serving a patron base on Indianapolis’ east side?

Waldman: Indianapolis' east side and Lawrence have been very supportive of our business. Much of our success stems from the ground-swell of support we have gotten from our neighborhood. When we opened there were very few options nearby where you could take your children and have a craft beverage. Being family friendly in Lawrence was a strategic advantage. Now there are a number of options on the east side but our patrons still show us the same appreciation (and support) for our being here. We are very glad to be here!
NUVO: How have you built a brews menu based on th e ‘likes’ of your core neighborhood patronage? How have you expanded the palate?

Waldman: When we started many of our "Regulars" were not what we would consider "Beer Geeks." Over the last almost four years, we have seen more and more of our patrons at beer festivals around the area. In many ways the palate of many on the Eastside have grown up with us.

NUVO: How has your moving into Indy’s east side affected the growth and development of the area a whole and around your close proximity?

Waldman: It is hard to know exactly what impact we have had in the neighborhood. A large amount of development has happened around Triton Brewing Company. We have seen the construction of 220 apartments and condominiums a block away from the brewery. Two years ago, Blue Ribbon Logistics moved in immediately to our South. We are watching the construction of 74 homes immediately North and West of the brewery. In the last two weeks, we have seen Jockamo's Pizza open a new establishment two blocks away. There is a lot happening. We are certainly not responsible for most of any of it, but nothing was happening when we moved into Fort Benjamin Harrison nearly four years ago.

NUVO: What do you most feel you’ve accomplished for the greater good –general community and craft beer industry—as ‘pioneers’ in this corner of Indianapolis? [Serving both the ‘drive in on way home patrons’ and those who stop by to taste and chat and make your taproom a meeting up place]

Waldman: Another difficult question. From a community standpoint, we have created a place for craft beer enthusiasts to gather in the Fort Ben area. We have gotten very involved at Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park as a founding member of the Friends of Fort Harrison State Park. This has been a great vehicle for helping effect long-term improvements to a real neighborhood treasure. We have established the #Pink Ribbon Saison Fund to help support cancer charities and the Hometown Hero Fund to help support military, police, fire and emergency personnel charities. We also do our best to utilize our social media networks to help bring awareness and additional support to these causes.

NUVO: What has been your business model to best serve?

Waldman: We believe that in addition to exceptional beer, our patrons deserve an exceptional experience. We strive to exceed all expectations from our patrons. We are blessed to be living our dream and we want to share those blessings with our consumers and communities. Educating our staff, at all levels, about the products and processes has also been a considerable benefit. Ultimately it is about the quality and consistency of the product, but service and presentation are also critically important.

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