Show All Work: Troegs at 20


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.

Some of those solutions live on:

Naked Elf
¿Impending Descent?
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Troegenator
Nimble Giant
First Cut

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. Fresh social media campaigns 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.


There Is No Such Thing As A Free Drink…

Joker Free WorkRecently, I was at a local brewery and the brewer welcomed me at the bar. After exchanging pleasantries and discussing what’s on tap, I ordered a new brew. The brewer asked me “Do you want to taste it first?” My retort: “No… I want a pint. I trust that you put the beer on tap because you thought it was good enough to serve.”

My thoughts ran something like this: Would you ask your waiter to “try the steak” before ordering a porterhouse? Would you ask a bartender to “try the dry martini” before ordering? So why do people still ask to “try” a beer before ordering a beer?

Brewers need to stop offering customers a taste of their beer before ordering. Stop giving away your product.

It is my belief that there was a time when craft beer needed to evangelize the good news of good beer. One way that happened was for brewers to get people just to try the beer.  Offering a free taste or a 2 oz. pour of beer you could to try it. Get them to taste something new, something different from their Budweiser tall boy. The theory was, just get them to just try it and they will love it. I think that worked.

But times change. I have said before that the craft beer industry is no longer “The Little Engine That Could.” Time to start acting like it guys.

Brewers should only sell beer that they feel good about serving to their customers.  Breweries must provide a high level of detail about what both goes into each brew and its specific tasting notes. Breweries should work to either remain close to the proper characteristics for each style or provide proper notice when getting creative. Tell people exactly what they are buying up front with a detailed beer menu.

If customers want to “try” a beer, point them towards ordering a flight or better yet start selling half pints. I love a brewery that sells half pints. They are the perfect size for me; more variety without just those tiny little 4 oz pours.

It’s time to move past giving away the product. Brewers need to respect the hard work they do and only sell beer of which you are proud. If you truly believe each beer you brew is good, then you will gladly demand money for the purpose of handing it across the bar.

Customers should stop looking for a freebie. If you can’t take the risk to order a five dollar pint then why are you at the bar in the first place? If you want to “try” a beer, order a pint. It is not an entire case of beer; suck it up.