Pick up a menu at Triumph Brewery New Hope and you’ll notice something special: it’s all local.
For just under a year now, the upscale brew-pub has been committed to sourcing exclusively from local farms, wholesalers, distilleries, and vineyards. It’s the kind of quixotic experiment you privately shake your head at—until it succeeds.
“When we first began,” General Manager Paul Foglia says, “we were unsure about availability, so we only did half the menu local. Once we realized the simplicity of it, and that it was doable, we moved forward.”
A big part of this transition was Zone 7, a natural foods wholesaler based in Lawerenceville, New Jersey. Zone 7’s vast purchasing power and enormous inventory enabled Triumph to consolidate their orders, expand their menus, and keep from pulling their hair out in the process. It certainly didn’t hurt that the product was of markedly better quality—shorter traveling distances and more conscientious growing practices, after all, make for more appealing dishes.
And ultimately it was the quality that sealed the deal for Foglia et al.
“It was never our intention to jump on a bandwagon; we wanted to separate ourselves from other restaurants in Bucks County and New Hope, to showcase what these great farmers and purveyors have in the area.”
River and Glen, Rushland Ridge, Alba Vineyard, Dad’s Hat, and Blue Moon Acres are just a few of these purveyors. River and Glen supplies meat and seafood; Dad’s Hat provides rye whiskey; Alba and Rushland Ridge, local wine. (Dad’s Hat also donates spent barrels, in which Triumph ages select beers, the barrels lending overtones of smoke and caramel to the brews.) Moreover, Buck’s County-based Freedom Fuel uses Triumph’s spent fryer oil to make soaps and degreasers which Triumph then uses to keep its kitchen spic and span. (Freedom also uses fryer oil to make biodiesel which we at Blue Moon use to power our farm equipment!)
Virtuous though all this may sound, relocalization is not without downsides. The wintertime can be especially problematic: with produce limited to root vegetables, chefs’ creativities’ are put to the test. Even at the height of summer, menus must be updated daily to reflect an ever-changing availability.
Says Executive Chef Tony Sauppe, “The biggest challenge is guessing how much product I’m going to go through in a week for an entire menu. You don’t want to waste product, but you need enough to get you through the following week.”
Despite the challenges, both Sauppe and Paul agree that relocalization is the way to go.
“I never ever want to go back to a regular menu,” Sauppe says. “Never want to not do a local-style menu. It just makes so much sense.”
Bucks County, it seems, agrees.