In episode 14, Ed Grohl,Easy Pretzel, andBearcat, welcome Scott Smith, founder, and owner of East End Brewing Company. In a far-ranging conversation, we discuss the brewery, Barleywine (#BIL), the trials of starting a brewery 15 years ago, and the sad lonely death of a keg of beer.
More Cherry. Specifically, Balaton cherries added to the O.G. Mad Elf’s already potent mix.
Deeper sugars. Specifically, Demerara sugar to compliment the subtle wild honey with a caramel backbone.
More Cherry. More Malt character.
This adds up to a heady mix. We get a deeper hue. A bright mahogany/blood red that just begs to be swirled in the glass. A nose of cherries that are so intense as to make you wonder “How did they do this with a beer?” The flavors are cherry on cherry but never cloying and the Balaton’s tart notes even everything out and makes everyone play nice. A stunningly long finish that shows off the complexity of the brown sugar along with some hints of pepper (a Troegs hallmark). It sips like an after dinner cordial. It is very intense but not aggressive. It soothes and relaxes.
Mad Elf 22oz bottles was my go-to host/hostess gift for years. I would show up at a holiday party with a couple bombers in hand and knew they would be greeted warmly. Mad Elf was just hard enough to acquire back home in Pittsburgh so as to make it really special when I sent it out as a gift. But eventually, the bombers ceased and Mad Elf became both ubiquitous and synonymous with holiday craft beer in this region.
The beer inside is a masterstroke and the packaging communicates clearly on behalf of the beer it carries. It is special inside and out.
Grand Cru is offered as the director’s cut of Mad Elf and as a tribute to 20 years of brewing at Troegs. What a fitting description and tribute it is.
For me… I think this is the beer that finishes your evening. It’s the beer you use to toast to the chef, your host, your friends, and your loved one. This a holiday beer at its most refined and worthy of the name Grand Cru.
Happy Thanksgiving and in the words of Viv Savage: “Have … a good time… all the time.”
P.S. In case you cannot tell, I really love This is Spinal Tap. I also really loved Mad Elf Grand Cru.
In high school math courses, the solution is not the whole answer. You must show all work. Scratch paper is provided and is part of the marking. An incorrect solution with proper methodology would typically receive partial credit. Correct answers with no work are suspect. Personally, I hated showing all my work.
For ten of the Troegs Brother’s twenty years of brewing, they have been showing us their work. They have done this with their Scratch series. And those ten years have shown us 300 equations that have been worked out.
Back around Scratch 280 or so I openly wondered on Twitter “What will Troegs do for number 300?” It is not a milestone number in the traditional sense; not like 100 or 500. But a big number nonetheless for a brewery that hit 20 years old this summer past. I thought (Read: hoped) they might do a big Barleywine. Maybe even a new Flying Mouflan. Maybe Ed’s longing for a return of the Oatmeal Stout would come to pass.
I was quite off the mark. I was not thinking big enough.
They had a plan but it wasn’t just about making one big beer. I was about celebrating the hop and its harvest. Instead of one beer… We got four big Fresh Hop Ales: #295 Comet, #296 Simcoe, #298 Citra and #300 Mosaic. #295 Comet came in a 6.8% and used Sunny Brae Hops from Carlisle, PA. A classic hop variety that this beer allows to shine. Tropical fruit with green finish.
#296 Simcoe was my favorite of the bunch. These Yakima grown wet hops gave up their piney mango and earthy flavors in abundance. This was the most dynamic of the bunch. Have I mentioned recently my love for Simcoe? #298 Citra was a love letter to this ubiquitous hop flower. #298 just nailed down all the flavors we have come to love and expect from Citra hops: sharp grapefruit, lemon and lime rinds. A master class in Citra hops for the uninitiated.
#300 Mosaic – Could there be a more appropriate hop to cap this foursome and be number 300 than Mosaic? This hop variety is the offspring of Simcoe and Nugget. Two varieties that are found throughout their lineup over the years. This relatively new variety (circa 2012) combines the trustworthy notes of well-established Troegs beers with a look to the future as it brings forth citrus and mango with a resinous finish. Brilliant.
So here we stand… 10 years of Scratch beers. The still new Splinter Cellar, a sight to behold. A new parking lot (wink, wink). The brothers cranking out over 100 different beers a year. Freshsocialmediacampaigns with smart, engaging content that reflect the company culture. A major expansion of capacity that will give them years of opportunity for growth and flexibility. 20 years of work.
Troegs shows all work. Tellingly, they take joy in showing it.
There is much to be excited about if you are working at Troegs or just a loyal follower.
All of this led to me hear “This is the most fun we have ever had” from John Trogner. John said this at a celebration of their 20 years down at the Warwick Hotel. I followed up and asked him what the next 20 years would look like. He looked away and thought for a second. Then he just shrugged and said “I don’t know…” with a crooked little smile.
Maybe when you are working this hard and having this much fun you don’t want to look too far ahead for fear that you will miss the joy of being right here, right now. Cheers to 300. Cheers to 20 years.
Once again as we approach late April, the return of Harrisburg Beer Week is coming upon us. This year marks the third iteration of the yearly celebration of craft beer in the Central PA area. As such, now provides a great opportunity to assess the current standing of craft beer in the (717) area code.
Looking at all of this, Harrisburg Beer Week is a great time to celebrate this now mature community within the Central PA area.
Over the course of nine days, craft beer devotees will be visiting multiple breweries, bars, and restaurants to sample unique brews or raising a pint of their favorite stalwart. We will hunt down rare firkins, tip back pints of what will be an eminently quaffable new (717) Collaboration Lager, and discuss or debate the virtues of this beer or that ale. All while raising a ton of money for a great cause, the Harrisburg River Rescue.
Much like brewers work hard to keep their lineups fresh, the Harrisburg Beer Week crew have worked hard to keep the three-year-old venture fresh with new gear and some new events or “old” events in new places. The Home Brewers Competition has been moved to the Broad Street Market in Midtown. While the ballpark was a fun and an interesting location, moving to the Market will inevitably create a more “Harrisburg” vibe. There are more events than ever, at more locations than ever. They even have a mini golf outing.
Just like craft beer in Central PA and Harrisburg Beer Week have grown, so has the craft industry throughout Pennsylvania. This provides an opportunity to tell a compelling story.
A compelling story is what GK Visual brought us in their documentary Brewed in the ‘Burg. As craft beer has expanded within the area so has their vision as they take on Poured in PA; a documentary meant to highlight craft beer throughout Pennsylvania. Making a project of this size requires money, a lot of it. That is why they have turned to crowd funding. But backing this project comes with perks; some really great ones. In fact, I have backed this project with my own money and if you love PA craft beer you should back it too.
It doesn’t take much to help out the Harrisburg River Rescue or Poured in PA. Both projects are about doing something positive around something we care about, great beer.
If I missed a brewery that opened since April of 2016, I am sorry but I think I caught everyone. If I missed one, let me know in the comments and I will edit accordingly.
I will have a list of my “Can’t Miss Events” next week so check back.
Finally, I apologize for the lack of posts here as of late. Between launching the new podcast and writing for October now I just have not had the chance to write much for my own blog. I hope to change that soon and expect that Bearcat on Beer will now be almost entirely my thoughts on what is happening locally.
In Episode 20, the final episode (more on that below), I am joined by friends of the show Ed Grohl and Easy Pretzel (Dave).
In this episode, Ed works really hard not to say awesome four-thousand times, we discuss if Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall is greater than Thriller, Harrisburg Beer Week’s Little Big Beer Fest, Dave considers barnstorming Hunapuh Day in Tampa, and Bearcat waxes philosophic about the ephemeral nature of short lived beers and sourcing the local culture into beer.
In Episode 19 of the Operation Shutdown, I welcome back friends of the show Ed Grohl and and Easy Pretzel. We discussed: Troegs Independent Brewing’s First Cut, some recent travels, Easy Pretzel’s hated of unnecessary tipping, Pergo flooring, and ironing, Bearcat goes an episode without saying hoi polloi or juxtaposition, and Ed recycles some old jokes.
A disclosure a quick note: Troegs was kind enough to send us each a bottle of First Cut Mango IPA in advance of its recent release so that we could discuss it on this podcast. Special thanks to them.
Be sure to stick around for the After Show where: Dave celebrates, Ed mourns, Bearcat quietly wonders why life is so unfair, and you can learn about Ric Flair’s really expensive shoes.
You can listen by clicking above or find The Operation Shutdown on iTunes. If you use iTunes, please consider subscribing. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider leaving a review and sharing it with a friend.
Be sure to follow Tierney on twitter and bookmark her very nice website.
Tierney: So, not every day is perfect, and most days are nowhere close to it. This is sometimes why we find ourselves drinking. While certainly not the best coping mechanism, there’s truly an art to taking the edge off a bit while distracting yourself with ‘The People of Happy Hour’ and chatting with your local bartender.
Today I took advantage of this solace directly across the street at the Midtown Tavern. I enjoyed a few Nugget Nectars, a few chicken wings, and the company of at first no one at all, then a good friend, then once again my own solitude.
Tonight was the perfect moment to dive into Kettleface. I’m feeling perfectly honest and also hopeful that once I crack this can I’ll continue to find comfort in a delicious brew.
Since it’s in a can, and called Kettleface, I obviously must drink it direct from the can to my face right? Well, I want to see its color and get a bit of the aroma, so I did pour a small amount into a small snifter for judgment. It’s a deep amber color, and the aroma is very bready, almost biscuity.
Okay, maybe the Nugget is interfering. I just went and drank some water, grabbed a few carrots from the fridge, and queued up some Netflix. Ah Shakespeare in Love, an old favorite. Let’s enjoy this beer with Joseph Fiennes on the tv.
So, I dig into Kettleface, and it was not what I expected. The can tells me it’s a double dry-hopped Imperial Red Ale. Sweet, can’t wait to dig into this hopped up red! Okay wait, at first taste that’s not what’s happening. It’s super grainy. Hang on, more water, more carrots, let’s watch more movie and come back.
Wait wait wait. Untappd says this is 9.2% ABV? My can doesn’t say that! Pretty sure you have to put that somewhere on the label, but okay, here we go. So some of the hops are coming through now, maybe I was just expecting the wrong hop flavor? It says there are Simcoe and Centennial – the less aggressive flavor makes more sense now. Going into a beer blind will give you the most honest outcome, and I’m glad I knew next to nothing about this before opening.
I watched a little more movie and waited for it to warm, hoping this would make it easier to decipher the flavors. 20 minutes into the movie, 20 minutes into this beer. The hops are coming forward, but not in a way I wanted them too. This beer is getting bitter now, but still paired with that grainy flavor I just can’t shake. I don’t know what to do, I don’t really like it. I really want to like it, I don’t want to give up!
“Stage love will never be true love” alas they are right, as I don’t love this beer, and don’t want to pretend that I do. I don’t want to drink the rest. It’s so bitter yet grainy. It’s everything I don’t love in a beer. Parting is such sweet sorrow dear Kettleface, but you were fated for someone else…
/cracks open Kettleface
Hmmm… “The Lady doth protest too much” or not enough. I have known you long enough to know that you don’t like it. Extra points to you for “an honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.” Yet I will ask you to drink it again and see if you remain unimpressed.
I very much like this beer but my biases are all on display here. Columbia Kettle Works is as close to a neighborhood brewery as I am ever going to get. I like their beers and mostly I cheer them on as they make slow steady improvements and growth. So T and dear reader, know that “love is blind, and lovers cannot see”.
I think if you put Nugget Nectar and Kettleface side-by-side you are going to see disappointment as they are in some ways similar but the Nugget Nectar is far more devoted to the hop. Kettleface is not a hop bomb; something to which we have come accustomed.
I like the bitterness as it warms slightly. I think it helps to broaden the flavor profile but it can be off-putting as the beer reaches room temperature. Some beers really open up as they reach this state and improve. Kettleface is best served cool or cold and in that sense, the pounder may do it some disservice.
As You Like It straight from the can, I do think you may have cut off some of the aromas and some nuance from the volatile elements. I love drinking beers from the can but in the glass, this beer was quaffable and did not linger. For me… when it comes to this beer, “I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it” and maybe “my love’s more richer than my tongue.”
I do think this is a great beer but my biases are all out there. “Above all; To thine own self be true…” this beer may not be for you.
Yes, it is a bit bitter but I will leave you with one last Shakespeare quote: “The course of true love never did run smooth”.