One of America’s largest and most successful microbreweries, TROEGS BREWING COMPANY began in ‘97 at Pennsylvania’s state capitol, Harrisburg. But increased demand for their malt-heavy beers became so overwhelming the brotherly operation run by Chris and John Trogner had to get bigger digs. As of 2012, their well-respected suds could be found in Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Virginia.
Now residing in a large freestanding warehouse (fourteen miles east of its initial location) just down the road from Hershey Park since the fall of 2011, Troegs new taupe-hued Derry Township home features a yellow-backed red-lettered Troegs-canopied insignia above brown aluminum siding and railroad-bound grain silo. Servicing the local community and curious out-of-state brew hounds, its ample front porch leads to a colossal indoor depot stationing a big 100-barrel production facility, enormous tasting room, glass-encased bottling plant, microbiology lab and shop.
After buying a Troegs T-shirt, my wife and I settle in the tasting room alongside dozens of cheerful customers this sunny Friday afternoon in late March 2012. A mini-brewhouse backs the prodigious bar where one lengthy community table and several booths lodge the primed weekend crowd. The high ceilings, exposed ducts and elongated steel fan allow for a haunting echo and The Clash’s vindictively apocalyptic “London Calling” plays loudly while I order up a beer and my wife’s $3 local roast coffee.
On tap today are Troegs’ Dreamweaver Wheat, HopBack Amber, Troegenator Double Bock and JavaHead Stout. The draught version of Dreamweaver seems to have a breadier wheat-cracked banana-clove resonance than the bottled versions I’d previously tried.
Also available this crisp spring day is the marvelous Chocolate Weizenbock, a heady elixir reminiscent of a chocolate-covered cherry dessert beer. Its raspberry pureed whiskeyed cherry frontage and fig-dried sugar plum midst saturate Belgian chocolate spicing. Peculiarly, the wafting Hershey’s chocolate kiss aroma makes this medium-to-full-bodied mocha-fruited brew seem stylishly analogous to the world famous chocolate factory down the street.
As we leave to head South towards Vintage 50 in Leesburg, Virginia, an hour away, dozens of new patrons join the throng of people still imbibing pre-dinnertime drinks. The times are certainly changing. And Troegs keeps getting better and more experimental, keeping the recipes consistent despite major expansion.