Scott Denhart is not afraid to share the story of how Triphammer Bierwerks came to be. In fact, I think he’s almost proud of how difficult it was. When Scott’s wife wanted to relocate back to the Rochester area, it was with the caveat that he would get to open his own brewery. And so a brewing system from a defunct operation in California was purchased and placed in storage. Scott began to research locations hither and yon, coming close on two occasions. In the meantime, he remained active in the Upstate New York Homebrewers Association. Pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place.
A proposal in Ontario County looked promising before it fell through. A deal to move into downtown Rochester was nearly inked until Scott got a bad feeling about the agreement and backed out. The dream seemed so close. After three years of searching, a location was secured in the historic American Can Co. complex off Parce Avenue in Fairport. The first packaging for canned beer was put into production by American Can in 1935, so there is a historic thread tying Triphammer’s new brewery to the old industrial building. After months of preparation, the tasting room was opened to the public on September 2, 2016. Your intrepid correspondents from this very Rochester Beer Blog were granted an early tour of the facility about a week before opening, and we were impressed by what we saw. The 15-barrel system is definitely built with an eye towards expansion.
Since the September 2016 opening, I’ve enjoyed many visits to Triphammer in the quaint canal-side village. Of course, if you’re going to follow Google Maps or your Garmin to their front door, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. While the company’s legal address may be 111 Parce Avenue, the entrance to the tasting room is found at the rear of the building which you reach by following an un-named access road. The road doesn’t appear on maps because it was originally the roadbed for the train tracks that once served the factory. Make the turn off Main Street right at the Fairport Village Inn, and follow the road towards the gray metal silos that belong to Iron Smoke Distillery.
If the weather is nice the garage doors will be rolled up and you’ll be greeted by the din of customers inside. The main tasting room is expansive, finished in a dark gray and orange homage to Scott’s alma mater University of Illinois. There are tables for gathering, as well as shuffleboard and foosball games for challenging. The food menu is simple: Fresh popped popcorn is available for your snacking pleasure. Don’t fret, because a number of local restaurants are nearby and you can either bring in your own food or get delivery. When the bar gets busy, the concrete walls can reflect a lot of noise, but not enough to distract from conversations with friends. The rumble of passing trains adds to the symphony that makes the space unique.
There’s plenty of room at the bar where the attentive staff will keep your glass full. What has impressed me over my last few visits was how Triphammer concentrates on dark beers. My last few visits I have gravitated towards the Belgian Dubbel (8.8%), which was a perfect rendition of this rich style, as well as the Dunkelweizen (5.4%) with wonderful notes of banana to complement the malty goodness. When I last visited at the end of February the Coffee Porter (6.5%) has just come on, brewed with beans roasted by Fuego, making for a delicious beer with none of the bitterness you might expect from a coffee-infused brew. Scott’s motto is “Every Beer Counts,” and it shows. I also enjoy that Triphammer’s line-up of beers is unlike others around town, making them stand out for their devotion to the dark side. That’s not to say the tap list doesn’t occasionally wander towards lighter-bodied ales, but the dark and cloudy beers are where it’s at.
The address for Triphammer Bierwerks is Parce Ave. in Fairport, but the entrance to the tap room is around back. Don’t drive down Parce Avenue looking for it, you will be disappointed by a loading dock that will not open for you. Go back to Main Street and turn down the long parking lot and access road and you can’t miss it. Visit their web site at www.triphammerbierwerks.com or visit them on Facebook.