Tröegs Independent Brewing turned 25 last week. It is a big deal. 25 years for any business is impressive. In craft beer, it feels like more than middle-aged compared to a lot of breweries out there. I mean that as a huge compliment. Many craft brewers do not make it this far. Most businesses never do.
Frankly, you do not make it 25 years without a lot of hard work and exceptional business practices.
I have had the benefit of having Tröegs in my life for nearly 18 years. It was the gateway to craft beer and no other brewery has done more to help me define my taste for beer than Tröegs. It is the hometown brewery and my favorite way to wind down a day, celebrate with friends, or just enjoy a cold one. Tröegenator is always in my fridge as the official beer of my home. Sunshine Pilsner is regularly sitting right next to it and the various seasonals rotate from the brewery into my fridge.
I have had the added benefit of talking to lots of folks in and around the brewery for years. John has come on the podcast often enough to be a “friend of the show” and a friend in real life too.
I have written about my thoughts on the “Tröegs way” a couple of times. I have offered my thoughts on their scratch program as “breadcrumbs.” I have spoken more times than I can count about the importance of “intent” in brewing and how Tröegs work with intent. I have discussed their openness and invitation to explore alongside them. But there is another concept that I have been thinking about for a long time: “Everything is important.”
“Everything is important” comes from Singer Vehicle Design. Singer was founded by Rob Dickinson in 2009. Before starting Singer, Rob was lead vocalist for alt-rock band Catherine Wheel. After his short musical career was finished, he started doing what later came to be commonly called “resto-mods” of air-cooled 911 Porsches. Singer likes to say that their 911s are “reimagined.” Singer’s cars sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions (not including the cost of the donated vehicle). Their motto is “Everything is important.” It is the consideration that no detail is too small to be considered, reimagined, reengineered, rethought, improved, and perfected. Nothing about a Singer is overlooked. The flow of quarter panels is a consideration when selecting tire sizes and widths. The bolts that hold the seat to the body are thoughtfully considered. They are not just painting the back of the fence no one will see. They effectively are obsessing over how the paint at the back the fence will look as the light from the sun changes through the day. It can appear pathological. This is being done, mind you, to a vehicle that many consider already “perfect.”
Over the years, listening to John, I have heard him consider all aspects of brewing. Things I never considered were brought forward and discussed by him in detail. He was talking about how moving from Harrisburg to Hershey meant different water chemistry and how they would account for it. Open fermentation was important for Dreamweaver to get just the right essence from the yeast. Discussing how year-to-year cherry harvests affected the color of Mad Elf. How local or PA grain was important to Tröeganator and other beers. Consideration is give to the belch as part of the beer’s character. The recent height of this attention to detail was when he was talking about how CO2 could change a beer. Food grade CO2 was not necessarily good enough. I could go on and on about all the tiny little decisions and the obsession with precision in every single beer they brew that has been shared.
Tröegs considers all those things and many, many more that I will never even know about when they are making your beer. 25 years of sweating the details. Everything is important.
Cheers to 25 years and to 25 more.
While writing this post I have been sipping on a couple cans of Tröegs 25 Years: Birthday Pale Ale. It has a pleasant balanced bitterness from the Cascade hops. It is a little zesty and a lot floral. It feels like a throwback and a welcome one. I loved it. It brought back a lot of memories. The only problem I can find with this beer is that I have very little of it and the brewery-only release is sold out.
Disclosure: Tröegs was kind enough to hook me up with a 4-pack of the pale ale.
There was an alternate version of this post that centered on “adventure and curiosity” instead of “everything is important.” But as I was writing it… I went with the latter. That is how writing is sometimes I guess.
The phrase “adventure and curiosity” comes from a little video from six years ago. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vUA27IiuA8. I recommend you check it out. Chris and John talk about their history, and a little bit about their brewing philosophy (which somehow gets cut down from could be hours of conversation to a couple seconds). Adventure and curiosity are still part of Tröegs. I know it always will be. Because Chris and John are like that.
Unlike Singer, Tröegs appears to have brought back the Pale Ale unmodified. It did not need it.