Zac Triemert, one of the founders and former president of La Vista's Lucky Bucket Brewing Co., has left the company and plans to open a new brewery and distillery in downtown Omaha.
Triemert parted ways with Lucky Bucket on May 31. He and Jason Payne, acting president of Lucky Bucket, both declined to disclose details of the split.
“We're not going to comment on what happened,” Payne said. “We're just going to confirm that Zac has left the company.”
Triemert, who has served as brewmaster and main spokesman for the company, remained the primary investor in Lucky Bucket until Oct. 1, and several members of his family are still invested in the company, Payne said.
Triemert's new business, Borgata, will be a brewery and distillery that also includes a tasting room. Triemert said he and his business partner, his fiancee, Holly Mulkins Triemert, haven't decided on a location yet, but they've narrowed it to four possibilities, all located in the the Old Market, north downtown or in between. Triemert said he hoped to finalize the location in the next month and to open for business in about a year.
“I think what we're doing is really unique, and I think people are really going to love it,” he said.
The name Borgata comes from an old Italian mob word for family, Triemert said, and he wants the brewery and distillery to become a family business that remains in OMaha for years to come.
"What we're really trying to build is a family company that we can pass on to our kids," he said.
Borgata will offer three whiskeys — a white whiskey, which is unaged and clear; an aged single-malt whiskey; and a vatted malt whiskey. Vatted whiskeys, which Triemert said were common in Scotland, are made by combining several single malt whiskeys from different distilleries to bring out certain flavors.
Whiskeys from Scotland, Ireland and possibly Japan and the United States will be combined with whiskey from Borgata to make a unique, globally sourced drink.
“What that's going to do is it's going to allow us to have an aged whiskey that we can offer on our first day of business,” said Triemert, who has a master's degree in brewing and distilling.
He was less forthcoming with his beer plans, though he said they'd include both classic and more unusual brews.
“Right now I am keeping the beer styles we're doing a bit of a secret,” he said.
All will be available for distribution and at Borgata's tasting room, which Triemert said would also offer small-batch beers and spirits, as wells as events, classes, locally sourced cheeses and other snacks and craft cocktails made with homemade syrups and bitters.
“The cocktail culture has been growing really well over the past few years,” he said. “Omaha is really ready for it.”
Triemert will do most of the brewing, and Mulkins-Triemert will manage the tasting room, marketing and event planning. "This is a 50/50 venture," he said.
Meanwhile, at Lucky Bucket, Payne and the company's other remaining founder, Brian Magee, have been slowly shifting the company's attention to the distilling side of the business. Their first batch of whiskey, a dozen barrels each aged for three years and which Triemert distilled when he was with the company, will be ready in February.
They were planning to fill 10 more barrels just last week, Payne said, and dozens more in the coming months. They're in the process of reorganizing their warehouse to make room for whiskey barrels.
“At the end of the day, we're going to focus and really make as much good whiskey as we can,” he said.
Payne, himself a whiskey connoisseur, said he hoped doing so would introduce the company to a new market, both in the Omaha area and beyond.
The Omaha market was quick to embrace Lucky Bucket Beer, Payne said, but they're starting to gain footing outside of the area, and he expects whiskey sales to aid in that.
Lucky Bucket's beer operation continues to grow, as well, Payne said. So far in 2012, they've sold around 7,500 barrels of beer, Payne said, up from 5,500 in 2011, and 4,000 in 2010.
Some Omaha restaurants and bars, including Dante, the Havana Garage and Block 16, stopped selling Lucky Bucket beer after learning of Triemert's departure.
"We did stop carrying it. Zac's a friend and he's been very supportive of Dante," said Dante owner and chef Nick Strawhecker."I think Zac was the heart and soul of the operation." Strakhecker said he planned to carry Borgata drinks when they became available.
But many others continued to support Lucky Bucket after Triemert left, Payne said.
Alex Diimig, manager of Jake's Cigar's and Spirits, 6206 Maple St., continues to carry Lucky Bucket and even commissioned a special batch of beer, Milk Mustache, to sell on and leading up to the bar's annual mustache competition. One dollar from every glass sold will support testicular cancer research.
“We are proud to support Lucky Bucket,” Diimig said. “They're a great company.”
In any case, Triemert's leaving didn't seem to hurt sales, Payne said. In August, the company sold 812 barrels of beer — the equivalent of 268,501 bottles — making for the brewery's biggest month of sales in its four-year history.
And they're working on a run of new seasonal ales, including their winter beer, Snowsuit Winter Abbey.
“I think for the next few years at least, we're going to be trying to release a new product at minimum every six months,” Payne said.
Many of the changes, both in the distillery and in the brewery, have come about since Triemert left, he said.
“Maybe some of the changes were inspired by the departure,” Payne said.
In 2010, the Midlands Business Journal honored Triemert as its young businessperson of the year, and the same year, Food and Wine Magazine named him of the top 40 movers and shakers in the food industry. With customers and media contacts, Triemert's name was nearly synonymous with the company's.
That role has remained unfilled at Lucky Bucket.
“We're more of a team,” Payne said. “It's not about one person.”
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