The first time I tried a Tröegenator, I immediately realized I’d been wasting my precious beer consumption on lesser ales. This holiday season, Tröegs Brewing Company is releasing even more high-caliber brews for beer lovers to savor at DMV locations, or straight from the brewery in downtown Hersey, Pennsylvania.
Tröegs is well-known for its “winter warmers,” including two of the brewery’s most widely distributed beers: the aforementioned Tröegenator and Mad Elf. Inspired by trips to Germany, Tröegenator is the house double bock, known as a liquid bread-style beer. The Mad Elf is Tröegs’ main cherry brew, available only during the holiday season.
The brewery also offers a seasonal 12-pack Anthology sampler, including the Tröegenator, plus the Perpetual IPA, Blizzard of Hops IPA and Scratch #307, a chocolate cherry stout from the Scratch series. This “R&D experimental” line of beers is meant to give the brewers room to experiment with new techniques and ingredients. The Mad Elf, however, can’t be found in the sampler.
“The Mad Elf is such a powerful beer that it’s always stood on its own,” says co-owner Chris Trogner.
The Mad Elf has also inspired a few other cherry-infused beers for Tröegs, including Mad Elf Grand Cru and Wild Elf, which are part of the experimental Splinter series. The wild yeast used to ferment the beer, and the barrels in which they are aged, are what makes each creation in the series so unique. The microbes living in the wood lend “new and unique flavors to each batch,” Trogner says. The beers in each series are almost entirely unavailable elsewhere, adding an air of exclusivity to them.
Trogner, who owns the brewery with his brother John, has been developing the Splinter program for quite some time – even prior to the brewery’s move to Hershey in 2011. But Trogner says he still feels that he and John have a lot to learn.
“The beers take a lot of time and there’s not a lot of them,” he says. “When they’re gone, they’re gone.”
Back at the original brewery in Harrisburg, the brothers gave their Splinter beers simple color names, like Splinter Gold, and at the time they weren’t aware of the extent to which “craft beer enthusiasts love to visit breweries.” They kept this in mind when it came time to expand, and it’s what precipitated their move to Hershey, as well as the design of the new brewery.
Trogner says that since moving to Hershey, they’ve had a lot more foot traffic. He’s proud to see a regular smattering of license plates from the border states out in the parking lot. Hershey is a little under three hours from DC, making it a great destination brewery for a daytrip.
The brewery is specifically set up for visitors, Trogner says. You can see most of the brewing process from the tasting room, and if you want a more in-depth explanation of the process, tasting tours are available.
“It’s really suited for however you would like to experience the brewery – whether you just want to do it at your own pace, or if you’d like to have someone kind of guide you through it,” he says.
Whether you’re looking for something to do on staycation around the holidays or itching for a weekend daytrip, head up to Tröegs for a winter warmer and a behind-the-scenes look at the successful brewery. And make sure to leave with a growler full of one of the Trogner brothers’ Splinter series beers. Visit www.troegs.com for more information on hours and tours.
Tröegs Brewing Company: 200 East Hershey Park Dr. Hershey, PA; 717-534-1297; www.troegs.com