Lucky Bucket brews up Nebraska novelties

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Story and photos by Aaron Krienert, News Net Nebraska

Before brewers filled thousands of bottles a day by machine, beer fanciers took a bucket to the local brewery and lugged it home full of refreshment. Like a horseshoe or a four-leaf clover it became the “lucky bucket.”

Today, Lucky Bucket Brewery and Sòlas Distillery don’t rely on luck for their fortunes. instead, they’ve built their success with hard work and novel products that have won fans — and awards — for the Nebraska outfits.

“We have kind of blown up in a way that I didn’t foresee,” said Zac Triemert founder and Co-President of the companies.

Lucky Bucket Brewing Company was established in 2008 with Sòlas Distillery following shortly after in 2009. Both are housed in the same warehouse in La Vista, NE. Lucky Bucket started off distributing its first brew, the Lager, to beer taps in a few bars in the Omaha area. Sòlas Distillery, which released Joss Vodka shortly after, had to jump through some hoops before it could market its drink.

Triemert had to help rewrite the pre-prohibition distillery laws that had hampered those in the state who wanted to make and market spirits. Backers introduced a craft distilling bill in the Nebraska State Legislature in January 2007 and by March it became law. The law allowed craft distilleries to manufacture up to 10,000 gallons of spirits each year.

Helping to set this into motion, and be a part of rewriting the bills, was an experience Triemert will never forget.

“It was a great project,” said Triemert, who at the time worked at Upstream Brewing Company as head brewer.

Zac Triemert works on his latest concoction.

After helping get the bill passed Triemert and co-workers went to work on the spirits. They decided vodka would be the best way to start the new company.

Since being released, Joss Vodka took home a bronze award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for best vodka and a gold award for bottling design in 2010.

Lucky Bucket has also seen success, with heady sales that led to a lot of beer being brewed – over 124,000 gallons this year. This amounts to over 4,000 barrels, and projections for this year call for about 250 barrels. Like Sòlas Distillery, Lucky Bucket has garnered some awards.

The Lager, the most popular of the brews, took a silver award at the World Beer Championships along with silver at the Los Angeles International Commercial Competition. The Certified Evil, a Belgian strong ale, also received a Silver at the World Beer Championships.

Even with all the success some folks at local bars and liquor stores believe the brewers and distillers can still work on a few things.

“More of a lineup,” said Yia Yia’s bartender Colby Brandt.

This comment was echoed by co-worker Ingrid Banger, the main alcohol purchaser for the pizza and bar spot. “Take more chances,” she urges, “I don’t want them to be afraid to take risks.”

Banger and Brandt love the products introduced so far but would like to see Lucky Bucket try more novel tastes, even if that means failing at times, in pursuit of a few more beers to add permanently to their lineup.

John Potts, the general manager of N Street Drive In liquor store in Lincoln, shared the sentiment. He believes Lucky Bucket is on the right path, but the more choices he can offer his costumers from the local brewery, the better served they will be.

Still, many folks think Lucky Bucket beer and Sòlas Distillery have a good thing going. Both Brandt and Bangers raved about the Certified Evil. When customers from out of state visit Yia Yia’s and ask for one a local beer, the staffers advise one of the company’s brews.

Lucky Bucket is looking to expand into states such as Minnesota and North Dakota and become a power among microbreweries in the Midwest. Sòlas Distillery is looking to develop a larger reach as well, including California, where Triemert believes the Joss Vodka would suit the Los Angeles crowd.

“We’re going to hit my lifetime goal in year four, and that is pretty neat,” said a smiling Triemert.

On Lucky Bucket’s website the three founders – Triemert, Co-President Brian Magee, and Vice-President Jason Payne – tell their story. A dream and after what they say was a few too many beers they laid the foundation of all you see today.

With the rapid growth, the outfit is now much more than a dream. The partners say cheers to that.

Beer ferments in state-of-the art tanks in the brewery.

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