Hmmm, picking up the wife from a two-week business trip (India, California, and Mexico, her company mercifully took out the Philippines piece), at Harrisburg International Airport in the late afternoon on a lazy and hazy Saturday. What to do about 40/40? How about Troegs in Harrisburg? Yes, the calculation of adding Troegs to the itinerary proved to be a good two-fer (saving a trip).
So far, I am still on the one-brewery a day schedule, with one exception. I want to avoid stacking visitation like wet beer coasters and have them all stick together. Each brewery deserves a day alone, a visit set aside and independent of other breweries flavors. So, I headed on up to Harrisburg to visit Troegs.
What can I say? Thirteen years after starting it, the Brothers Trogner (Chris and John) are running on all cylinders. From beginning to the end of the brewing process, bottling, design, and packaging, these brother dudes and their staff are highly-trained professionals. As the Brothers Grimm did with folk stories, these two brothers are crafting some fine brews that are themselves becoming fabled, a reawakening of great beer traditions of the past in the context of 21st century brewing technology and innovation. A great mixture of art and science.
The tour of Troegs done by John Trogner, had an education vibe for sure. Here is the brewteacher himself:
Not much of a smile in this picture. I made some type of comment, about him being “a serious man who was serious about beer”, and he pretty much concurred.
Why educational? Because the tour was quite interesting, informative, and even hands-on– we got to pick-up malt and hops, kind of a “Please Touch” museum, a field trip of fermentation. We used to get ice cream sandwiches in elementary school after returning from a field trip excursion. At Troegs, we got beer.
Here are the Malts (like Grape Nuts):
Umm, pass the milk, please….Malt, by the way, is where beers’ sweetness and flavor mostly are derived from.
Second, the Hops:
Hops provide the bittering flavor to beer.
And, for the grand finale, here are the Troegs beers that come from the malts, hops, yeast, and water:
Very nice, a fine collection of storied beers.It is amazing how much diversity exists exists within these four elements. Kind of how so many books can be written from the 26 letters of the alphabet.
Here is the class after the field trip:
It is always so good to see the children both learning and having fun.
What is my favorite fermented fable? The Troegenator Double Bock:
That gets me smiling. Even the Troegenator has a grin.
Troegs decided at its inception to not become a restaurant and a brewery. Instead, the brothers and their people, decided to focus their energies on what they loved to do and what they did best: The brewing of beer. It seems to have been a wise move. There are Philly hot pretzels sold in the tasting room, and that is a smart concession in more ways than one. Too much beer available and not enough food, is often a bad mix, and can lead to over-drinking. The pretzels are good and compliment the beers nicely. Keeping things simple and doing it well seems to be a Troegs principle.
It was interesting, towards the end of the tour, John said that Troegs does not do “consumer research” to see what the public wants. They just make beers that they enjoy and leave it at that. He noted that sometimes a beer can fall relatively flat as did its Rugged Trail brew that has now been replaced by another in the line-up. I think that this is another wise move. About a year ago, I had bought a case of Rugged Trail at a price of $ 32 for a buddy’s going away trip to be a missionary to Alaska. I thought the boot and trail theme sounded very Alaskan. I was not impressed…and it is the only brew in Troegs collection that I have ever felt that way about.
Nearly every beer they make could be an industry standard for its category. I also know that this is a small detail, but I love the illustrations that brand their beers. When I write “the whole package,” I mean it literally. The visual branding of their beers is first class and it shows.
Well done…this brewery is a gem in Central Pa.