Trumer Brauerei

Mark Mattson and Andrew Palamides

Mark Mattson and Andrew Palamides of Trumer

It’s no secret that craft brewers tend to be a passionate lot. That passion has driven them to constantly push boundaries and has given consumers a dizzying array of choices. While brewers are at the heart of the industry, it takes a team for a brewery to succeed. Somebody has to sell the beer (and T-shirts and pint glasses), answer the phones and emails, keep track of the money, keep regular customers happy and recruit new ones. At Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley, California, a lot of those duties fall to Brewery Administrator Mark Mattson.

I met Mark recently at a brewers’ meeting and was impressed by how much he seemed to enjoy his job. I mentioned that I had to go to Berkeley soon and maybe we could continue our conversation. A couple of weeks later, I walked into Trumer where Mark handed me several stapled pages of answers to interview questions I had emailed in advance. He sent me off on a great private tour with brewer Andrew Palamides. I saw a very clean, modern and, for its size, highly automated brewery. Afterwards, Mark joined us in Trumer’s taproom where the three of us chatted over a pilsner so fresh it tasted like it had come straight from the brite tank.

Trumer-Berkeley's outdoor tanks

Trumer-Berkeley’s outdoor tanks

Trumer Brauerei-Austria has been producing beer, mostly pilsners, in Salzburg for nearly 400 years, most of that time under the watch of the Sigl family. Eleven-year-old Trumer Brauerei-USA is somewhat unique among U.S. craft breweries. It’s part of The Gambrinus Company, which also owns Shiner Beers in Texas and BridgePort Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon. Gambrinus president and CEO Carlos Alvarez drank his first Trumer Pils on a trip to Austria and decided the U.S. market needed the same beer with the same freshness. Thus, the two Trumer breweries are separate companies but both make the same product. Both adhere to Reinheitsgebot, the centuries-old German beer purity law that limited beer ingredients to malt, water, hops, and later, yeast.

Trumer-Berkeley's packaging line

Trumer-Berkeley’s packaging line

A search determined that Berkeley’s water was very similar to that used at the Salzburg brewery. Since the Berkeley brewery’s inception, all the malt (100% Pilsen) and hops (German noble) used have been imported from Europe. Their yeast is a proprietary strain. Under Brewmaster Lars Larson, Trumer Pils wins gold and silver medals every year at prestigious events from the World Beer Cup to the Australian International Beer Awards.

This year, Trumer-USA is on pace to brew 33,000 barrels. What’s most notable is that the only beer they brew is Trumer Pils. By comparison, Corralitos Brewing Company (July 7 post), is on track to produce 1,100 barrels and had 10 beers on tap the day I interviewed the owner.

During our taproom conversation, Mark mentioned, “I had fun answering your interview questions. I got a little carried away with #17.” After the visit, I read over Mark’s answers, all well thought out. Number 17, though, was clearly a topic he enjoyed. Below are excerpts from his full-page response to, “What changes do you anticipate in the craft market in the coming years?”

Andrew, Leslie and Matt in the brewhouse

Andrew, Leslie and Mark in Trumer-Bekeley’s  brewhouse

“We are going to see a shift towards drinking more SESSIONABLE* and LOCAL beers.

For the last few years, the most popular and hottest new beers on the market always seemed to be the biggest, boldest, strongest, and most exotic beers around. Beer aficionados began seeking out the newest and latest 100+ IBU hopped up beer or the Barrel Aged Chocolate Pumpkin Russian Imperial Stout with Cinnamon, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy trying these big beers and have never met a beer that I wouldn’t try. There will definitely still be a market for Big & Hoppy, Strong & Infused and Exotic Barrel Aged beers, but these are not your everyday drinking beers…

…As time goes on, more and more beer drinkers will begin to realize that they can only drink so many of these big beers and will find more appreciation in the numerous flavorful and delicious beers on the market with lower ABV’s…This will most certainly include a fresh, crisp, and refreshing craft Pilsner and certainly almost any high quality lighter abv craft beer that is not stripped of most of its flavor that we work so hard to maintain throughout the brewing process…

…With a new brewery starting in what seems like every city and every day now, many people are going to turn to their local breweries for their beer needs…I think we have already started to see the wheel begin to turn towards this with all the brewery openings, tap room and tasting room openings, growler fill stations, etc.

Overall, it’s amazing how far American Craft Beer has come! It is great to see, fun to watch, and tasty to drink!”

If that’s not passion, what is?

Click here for more information on Trumer Brauerei tours.

*Sessionable beers = beers with lower alcohol by volume (ABV).

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