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|
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!
800 Paxton St
Harrisburg, PA 17104
Harrisburg, PA 17104