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       TRIUMPH, TRACKS AND TAVERNS small black logo
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS POH
After giving it some very careful consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that brew pubs and vintage railroads without question go hand in hand. So for the first feature article, in what will be an ongoing column entitled Tracks and Taverns, I’ve decided to write a piece from the bar of the TRIUMPH BREWING COMPANY, which was constructed as part of the gentrification of a former industrial site located across from the main depot and station of the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad.

Triumph Brewery and train as seen in American Public House Review
TRIUMPH BREWING COMPANY'S REAR DECK IS RIGHT ON THE TRACKS

As I sit trackside sipping a Bengal Gold IPA, my eyes glance back and forth at the steel vessels that power both of these enterprises. I am struck by the similarities between brew kettles and steam locomotives. Whether the end result be foam from a tap or smoke from a funnel, the impact that boiling water has had on civilization is really quite amazing. Nations have forged out territories, wilderness and wild spirits have been tamed, wars won, and disputes settled, all as the result of man’s ingenuity, imagination and ability to harness the primary elements in combination with a few of nature’s ingredients. But before I get carried away in a torrent of grand sweeping generalities and proclamations used to support this analogy, let me bring into play my own personal experience.

Diesel train engine as seen in American Public House Review
NEW HOPE & IVYLAND'S STALWART DIESEL
Triumph's brew kettles as seen in American Public House Review
TRIUMPH'S GLEAMING BREW KETTLES

Old Steamer as seen in American Public House Review

My interest in trains and beer were on a parallel heading from an early age. As a youngster I would gather quite often with a few friends along the freight tracks that ran through the western edge of Teaneck, New Jersey. On occasion there was the sharing of a warm can of Pabst, Piels or Knickerbocker that had been pinched from the garage or basement of some unsuspecting parent. At some point we would hear the tale of woe from the poor unfortunate lad who had discovered that parents are seldom unsuspecting. But during those devilish days of our youth, the rewards always outweighed the risk. And for those brief moments, as we would raise a can of beer to those that manned the great engines that pulled the cars of the Norfolk Southern, Reading and Jersey Central - one had a sense of the possibilities that awaited us on the other side of childhood.

A few years later, at a time when I was expanding my taste in beer beyond native shores, I also began to travel unescorted by rail. American lagers in aluminum gave way to English session ales in glass, and family jaunts on the New York City subway were replaced with excursions on Amtrak’s Metro-liner. It was then that I came to the personal realization that nothing soothed the sometimes melancholic nature of young adulthood better than riding on a finely engineered train or drinking a well crafted beer.

Triumph's taps as seen in American Public House Review
TRIUMPH OFFERS A FINE SELECTION OF HOME BREWS
Locomotive as seen in American Public House Review
NEW HOPE & IVYLAND RAILROAD'S OLD STEAM LOCOMOTIVE

With the advent of brew pubs in the 1980s came the resurrection of the brewer’s art. Following the traditions and styles of the brew houses of Colonial America, once again small batches of handcrafted products were made available for consumption at their point of origin.

At about the same time, while this country was experiencing the continued decline in passenger rail service, a new interest in America’s railroad history was being cultivated. Nationwide stretches of abandoned track were being purchased by private concerns that sought to promote, preserve and honor that legacy from the age of steam.

Over the years I’ve straddled many a barstool, and whenever the opportunity presented itself I’ve taken a ride on the rolling stock. It’s been an abounding journey of bar rails from Maine to California and steel rails from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the banks of the Firth of Forth.

Triumph Brewery interior as seen in American Public House Review

As I continue my tasting at TRIUMPH, having now moved onto their delicious Amber Ale, my ponderings about the commonality of brew pubs and railroads persist. My contemplations about the particular rails which I am presently flanked by bring about some concluding insights. Both brewers and trainmen share an exceptional passion for their product, a dedication to proper service and a common commitment to generously impart to the public knowledge and understanding of their craft. 

Having long been a customer of both the NEW HOPE & IVYLAND RAILROAD and TRIUMPH BREWING COMPANY – I highly recommend the ride on either rail.

Triumph Brewing Company exterior as seen in American Public House Review
New Hope and Ivyland Railroad tracks as seen in American Public House Review


TRIUMPH BREWING COMPANY


400 UNION SQUARE
NEW HOPE, PENNSYLVANIA 18938

(215) 862-8300

www.triumphbrewing.com

NEW HOPE & IVYLAND RAILROAD

32 WEST BRIDGE STREET
NEW HOPE,  PENNSYLVANIA 18938

(215) 862 2332

www.newhoperailroad.com

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