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The Beer Circle » Breweries, Tröegs Brewing Co. » Tröegs Brewery Tasting Tour

Tröegs Brewery Tasting Tour

Most breweries offer tours of their facility – but some truly go above and beyond.  On Friday, October 26, The Beer Circle writers Kenton Martin and Garrett Miller, accompanied by friends and guest writers Alyssa Cook, Brian Reitz, and Kelsey Bailey, took a tour of Tröegs’ still-new Hershey, PA location – which represents a considerable amount of brewing capacity.  The Beer Circle has stopped by here on a previous beer tour (and even got to witness the power going out), and Kenton wrote a guest piece on the brewery some time ago – but this is the first time any of the gang had taken the full “tasting tour” – which costs five dollars, but includes a number of beer tastings, as well as a unique pint glass which can’t be gotten anywhere else.

The Sign of Happiness.

The Sign of Happiness.

Upon beginning the tour, we were greeted by an incredibly friendly representative of the brewery, who introduced himself as Barry. Throughout the tour, Barry gave us highlights and stats of how Tröegs has been able to quadruple their output by moving from Harrisburg to Hershey about a year ago – the new facility dubbed “T2”.

Barry the Mad Elf

Barry the Mad Elf

We were first taken to the grain room, where barley is brought into the brewery and weighed out on their grain scales.  Barry explained the process of roasting grain in preparation for brewing, detailing how different roast levels can introduce flavors that otherwise wouldn’t be there – from light, toasty, biscuity flavors, all the way to dark malts, chocolate, and coffee tastes which can come simply from sufficiently roasting barley prior to brewing.  To drive the point home, we were given an amount of roasted barley to taste, at a variety of roasts.

Roasted Barley

Roasted Barley (Side note: These fingernails aren’t Garrett’s)

Barry brought us out onto the platform above the tasting room with the mash and lauter tuns, covering the methods that Tröegs employs while hopping their beers – including a device known as the “hopback”, which effectively acts as a giant french press for beer – allowing strong hop character to make its way into the beer while removing the actual hops from the beer itself.  He then explained Tröegs’ processes for handling hops after their time in the brewing process is served – after brewing, they’re picked up by a local farmer and used for feed – turns out cows love the stuff. Who knew that PA cows were becoming hopheads?

Mad Hops

Mad Hops

Continuing the tour into the “cellar”, we had the unique opportunity to try an interesting new entry into Tröegs’ Scratch series – an upcoming Belgian Brown ale – straight from the fermenter.  Brewed only once before for a Tröegs wedding, this beer had a great flavor, but still was not quite ready for release. This will be accomplished once it ferments a bit more, lending the beer that crucial carbonation and slight bite – and removing some of the overt sweetness that was present on the beer.

Barry Filling Straight from the Fermenter

Barry Filling Straight from the Fermenter

The tour continued through the filling, bottling, and packaging areas of the brewery.  Highlights from here include an Italian keg filling machine.  This formidable piece of equipment is capable of cleaning, sanitizing, and filling kegs at a rate of 60 per hour, up from Tröegs’ previous capacity of 20 per hour.  Also notable was a custom-built rig for filling special 101-oz Mad Elf bottles, built by the Tröegs brothers themselves – a testament to their mechanical inclination, which is what led them to brewing in the first place.

Tröegs Brewing Eqipment, with Mad Elf Rig (at left)

Tröegs Brewing Eqipment, with Mad Elf Rig (at left)

The tour concluded with a brief tasting held in the barrel aging room, the contents of which is a tightly-controlled brewery secret.  Barry joked that based on his penchant for talking and sharing information, they wouldn’t even tell him – The Tröegs brothers were sure that he’d spill the beans. The tasting included two Mad Elf bottles that Barry pulled directly off the bottling line.  Bottled less than an hour prior to tasting, there’s no way to enjoy a fresher Mad Elf. Over an additional Troegenator dopplebock and Dreamweaver Wheat ale, Barry discussed the brewery’s recent success at the Great American Beer Festival.  Taking the honor of Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year, as well as winning gold medals for a few beers: Dreamweaver Wheat and Sunshine Pils.

Tröegs: Cleaning up at GABF

Tröegs: Cleaning up at GABF

We stuck around to enjoy another beer after the tour, filled our growlers, and were on our way, but not before thanking Barry for our excellent tour.

Man, this place is great.

Photo Credits: Alyssa Cook

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Written by Garrett Miller, Kenton Martin, Alyssa Cook (Guest Author), Brian Reitz (Guest Author) and Kelsey Bailey (Guest Author)

Garrett brings a somewhat different perspective on beer to the table. While always thrilled to try any new, exotic brew that finds itself his way, Garrett finds that he's often quite satisfied with reliable, common craft choices. As such, Garrett is a fan of trying and reviewing these (admittedly less expensive) beers, and using them to introduce the exciting, flavorful world of craft beer to those not-yet-acquainted. Garrett’s favorite styles are IPAs and bourbon stouts, but won’t turn his nose up at anything. Find Garrett Miller on Google Plus

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2 Responses to "Tröegs Brewery Tasting Tour"

  1. Alyssa Cook says:

    😀 What a wonderful day this was!!

  2. […] the wake of my recent visit to the Tröegs Brewing Company, I wanted to take a look at a beer that’s been a budget staple […]

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