I went camping with majority of my family this past weekend out in
Manheim, PA which is only 20 minutes or so outside of Harrisburg where
the brothers Trogner have been brewing since 1997. I couldn't pass up
the opportunity to visit one of the breweries that helped me get into
craft beer a few years ago so I took a break from the wilderness and
headed for the capital.
Luckily my girlfriend is used to these sorts of diversions on vacations
(visiting Maui Brewing Co. when we were in Hawaii this summer was a
priority) so she was my brewery co-pilot. We drove over the railroad
tracks to find Troegs nestled away all by it's lonesome. I spotted a
Troegenator van and got very excited about it, somehow I haven't become
jaded yet and each new brewery I visit gets me all a twitter.
We had reservations for the 1:30 tour so with a little bit of time to
kill we checked out the gift shop which had one of the biggest
selections I've seen. They have a t-shirt and a glass for nearly
everyone of their beers. Everything was priced pretty reasonably which
made my decision on what to buy all the more difficult. I ended up
grabbing a brewery work shirt for $10. They have a bunch of used work
shirts with employees names still on them which I found to be much
cooler than the regular swag.
Our group was called in for the tour which I was excited to realize
would be led by Chris Trogner himself. I really appreciate when a tour
is led by a brewery's founder or brewmaster rather than a schlub that
works in the tasting room. Chris led a pretty standard tour, starting
with the labs and mill room. There was one guy in our group that was
constantly interrupting with completely irrelevant questions. I think he
saw that they offered something free to do on a Saturday and decided
that he should bring his entire weird family who couldn't have cared
less about what was going on. Even Chris couldn't hide his annoyance
with this guy, there always has to be "that guy" on a tour I guess.
The tour carried on and Chris led everyone through the whole process, handed out some grains and hops for everyone to see, told us
that the spent grains get picked up by some farmer for his cows, same
old same old. One exciting moment in the tour was when we were shown the
hopback chamber. They only use it for a few of their brews (obviously Hopback Amber
is one of them) and when Chris mentioned that that was where Nugget Nectar
was born, all of the beer geeks started smiling and nodding their heads
while their girlfriends just stared at the stainless steel chamber.
We ended up on the other side of the facility near the bottling line
where they have a number of barrels stacked against the wall where they
have some exciting experiments going on. These barrels are home to their
Splinter Series, barrel aged brews that are only available at the
brewery in very limited quantities. What we saw aging was their Russian
Imperial Stout which after maturing for 8 months will be available
around Christmas. The way Chris talked about it I really wish I lived
closer because it sounded like it is going to be delicious.
The tour winded down and Chris stuck around for any lingering questions
so I asked him about the big move to Hershey. He said that things were
going well and as of right now they are on schedule and should be
brewing by June 2011. I was shocked to hear that they were taking the
entire operation to Hershey but from what I've read the new location is
going to be much more spacious which will be great improvement because
we were quite cramped on Saturday. The tasting room is going to have
large windows which will allow visitors to watch while they brew,
something that I can't wait to check out.
|A mock-up of the new brewery
After the tour we grabbed a sampling tray since my girlfriend wasn't familiar with their selections. For $7 you get to try
all 7 of their drafts which that day included their year rounds plus
Dead Reckoning and Scratch 34
, a Belgian style brown. The samples were pretty generous but I was really hoping they would have Mad Elf
tap, but alas. They also have Philly soft pretzels available and you
can fill your growler for pretty cheap but of course I neglected to
bring mine along for the trip. We finished our sampler and I picked up a
bottle of The Flying Mouflan
before we headed back to the woods.
The Troegs variety pack was one of the first few cases I bought when my
roommates and I were starting to explore the world of real beer so it
was a pleasure to visit it's home in Harrisburg. I'm also glad I got to
visit their original location before they move out but I think their new
brewery will be bigger and better so I would recommend planning a trip
next summer. If you happen to find yourself in our state's capital, a
place that can get pretty boring pretty quickly, head over to Troegs for
a beer because they won't be there for long!