What better thing to do on a cold, overcast Saturday than take a brewery tour and write about it for The Brew Club? After enjoying the Tröegs Anthology Sampler pack, and having visited Heavy Seas, the closest brewery to me several times, I decided to head to Tröegs since it is the next closest. Tröegs’ current digs is in an industrial park near the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, PA.
By the end of the year, however, Tröegs will be moving to a 90,000 square foot facility in Hershey, PA. The current facility consists of a tasting room, gift shop, and the brewery, which has an annual capacity of 30,000 barrels. The new facility or “T2” will have a 90,000 barrel capacity. A barrel a square foot?
Andrea, the very enthusiastic guide, did a great job of explaining the brewing process. As the brewery was in production, it was a little difficult to hear her at times. Besides the mash tun, fermentation tanks, the bottling line, and other equipment, we saw the barrels where the Scratch beer series is aged. Towards the end of the tour, Andrea gave a comparison of how small Tröegs is in the scheme of things. she asked tour attendees to name the U.S.’s top ten largest breweries, I’m proud to report that I knew that number three is Pabst Blue Ribbon. “I’ll take Beer Trivia for $1200 please, Alex.”
Like other craft brewery tour guides, Andrea left us with the message to drink locally, to experiment and try local beers when we travel. I like that point. While the consistency and expected taste of a known commodity can be quite comforting, by sticking with the macros, or even nationally distributed craft beers, we can miss some fine products that are not available at home. One of the things I love about travel is trying beers, and regional specialties, I can’t get at home. Sure, we all gravitate back to the beer of choice, but there may be a wonderful new beer choice waiting around the corner!
Speaking of new beers…the tasting room had samples of Tröegs’ normal line, plus two of the Scratch Series, #47 and #48. Scratch #47, the working title was “Wit (or Witout Two),” is a White Beer. Blatantly lifted from the website “Two Our second foray into the white ale world comes with a little less and a little more from our first endeavor. We’ve reduced the gravity a bit to lower the ABV but dramatically increased the pepper and coriander, as well as adding locally-grown, organic unmalted winter wheat. The coriander, sweet and bitter orange peel, black pepper and star anise were added to the hopback to intensify these diverse flavors. With a dense haze from the unmalted wheat and a foamy white head, Scratch #47 incorporates citrus and spicy aroma notes with a hint of licorice from the star anise. The spices are offset by a doughy taste and the Lachouffe yeast gives a cidery finish.”
This all sounds wonderful, but I didn’t get much of that. Because I have the genetic marker which makes cilantro taste like soap, and since coriander is the seeds of cilantro plants, perhaps I’m genetically predisposed to miss this taste. I got the citrus scent and the haze was impossible not to spot. Wheat beers are not my favorite variety, so, as stated in a previous review, I’m not the best judge of this style.
Scratch #48 is an Octoberfest beer. Again, from the website: “In honor of Oktoberfest (and our German friends building our new brewery) we give you Scratch #48-2011, Fest Bier. This gorgeous lager features German malts including floor-malted Bohemian Pils, and generous amounts of Vienna and Munich malts which add a nice body and a slightly darker color than a traditional fest beer. All noble hops provide a hint of grapes and a subdued ‘German stink.’ The Magnum hops add a crisp bitterness and the Tradition hops impart a slight earthy taste.” Fest Bier is more bitter than many other fall beers I’ve sampled. It has the same reddish brown color and earthy taste as other autumn brews, but I did not get the hint of grapes at all.
I didn’t love either of the Scratch beers, but am very glad to have sampled them. The knockout beer I tried is the Dead Reckoning Porter, which will be reviewed in a later post. It’s by far my favorite Tröegs beer!!
Support not just your local brewer, but the local brewer of where you may be! Think globally, drink locally!