Show All Work: Troegs at 20

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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.

 

HBW and Poured in PA

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April 21 – 29, 2017

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.

But first, within the Commonwealth, the past year has brought at least one challenge to local brewers in their changing relationship distributors due to legislation. Across the Nation, the total number of breweries has ballooned from 5,000 just a year ago to 5,300. This rapid expansion has been tempered by a very slight downturn in consumption across the industry. The number of guests at the table grew but the size of the pie remained the same.

Locally paints a far rosier picture. We have seen an impressive number of breweries open. There are more choices for local beer drinkers than ever before and the acceleration keeps going.

Since the last HBW, we have seen Collusion Tap Works, The Vegetable Hunter, Ever Grain, Tattered Flag, Desperate Times, Millworks, and Boneshire open their doors. We have seen the expansion of Appalachian Brewing Company and watched Troegs open its new and absolutely gorgeous Splinter Cellar. There are more bars and restaurants that are featuring local brewers; often in unique and interesting ways beyond just a tap handle. Finally, we saw a massive 12 brewer collaboration at Pizza Boy Brewing Co. that put out an outstanding beer and showcased the comradery here locally.

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.

Post Script:

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.

The new label for (717) Collaboration is amazing. It is so good. I really like it.

Also, I am happy to say that Friend of the Show, Tierney Pomone will be appearing on It’s Friday Somewhere this week to discuss all things Harrisburg Beer Week.

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.

Cheers!

Ep. 14: Bourbon Barrel Aged Splenda

In Episode 14 of the Operation Shutdown, I welcome back friends of the show Easy Pretzel,  and Ed Grohl to discuss bourbon barrel aged beers, Black Friday as a craft beer holiday, and Easy’s Splenda intake.

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Beers and Coffee We Drank:
A Night on Ponce by Three Taverns Brewery
#BOC Black Label by Voodoo Brewery
Starbucks with Nonfat Milk and Three Splenda

Link Dump:

Gentrification of Food
Chicken + Beer
Brew Gentlemen
Braddock, PA
Roundabout Brewery
Appalachian Brewing Company
Pittsburgh Toilet
Bourbon Barrel Aged Impending Descent by Troegs Independent Brewing
Shady McGrady’s
Shady’s Twitter Trolling
Hunger-n-Thirst
White Hill Cafe “Where Professionals Drink”
Don’t Drink Beer (The Internet’s Best Beer Blog)
Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon
Columbian Coffee Crystals
Hildy’s Tavern
Boneshire Brew Works (We will be getting Alan on in 2017… Right Alan?
The Wrecking Bar
The Porter Beer Bar
Max Lager’s

Be sure to stick around for the After Show: We discuss Easy and Ed’s recent trips to watch football games where Easy spends all is money on a 12 pack of beer and Ed drinks on the kindness of strangers and big corporate beer like a hobo.

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.

Cheers!

Post-Script:

After 14 Episodes I am really starting to feel like the show has taken on a certain form. I do think that by and large the later episodes are an improvement over the prior ones. But as I prepare for 2017 and a whole new run of podcasts I would love to hear from you, the listeners. I would love  to know what you think of the show.

What can we do better?  What kind of guests would you like to see? What topics should Easy, Ed, and I pretend to have an authoritative voice about in the future? Which world leader would you think is most likely to end up on the show accidentally and do you think they actually like Fruit IPAs?

Hit me up in the comments below, via email BearcatOnBeer@gmail.com or Twitter @BearcatOnBeer.

Ep. 8 : The Central PA Six-Pack

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In this episode of the Operation Shutdown, I am joined again by special guest Tierney from StoutsandStilettos.com. This time we discuss former guest Bryan D. Roth’s The Six-Pack Project and offer our take on a Central PA version.

The point of The Six-Pack Project is to identify six local beers that best represent our area’s craft beer offerings. Bryan lays down a couple rules:

1. This isn’t simply a “best of” list. The goal is to pick a collection of six beers that represents your state and/or state’s beer culture.
2. Beer must be made in your state, but “gypsy” brewers are acceptable, so long as that beer is brewed with an in-state brewery and sold in your state.
3. Any size bottle or can is acceptable to include.
4. Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. No out-of-season brews preferred. Specialty or one-off brews are not allowed.

Be sure to check out Bryan’s blog This Is Why I’m Drunk and the other lists on from his Six-Pack Project.

After you listen, if you want to flame Tierney or I for the our selections, be sure to yell at us on Twitter: @tyrannytierney and @BearcatOnBeer. We are ready to defend our hot takes!

What we were drinking:

Troegs Independent Brewing Scratch 256
Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co. Shape of Hops to Come
WeyerbacherBrewing  Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2015)
Pizza Boy Brewing Co. Sunny Side Up Stout BBA

The Central PA Six-Pack:

Troegs Independant Brewing Dreamweaver
Victory Brewing Company Prima Pils
Yuengling Porter
Stoudts Scarlet Lady ESB
Troegs Perpetual IPA
PizzaBoy Brewing Co. Sunny Side Up Stout

Honorable Mentions:
Victory Brewing Company Dirtwolf
Selin’s Grove Brewing (Sasion De Peche)
ZerOday Brewing Company Mango Hab
Liquid Hero Brewery Juste Le Bout Saison

Other mentioned beers/links —
Victory’s Parkesburg location
The Shape of Jazz to Come
The Shape of Punk to Come
Troegs’ Open Top Fermentation (This is a cool video)
Elysian Brewing Pumpking Punkuccino
Southern Tier Brewing Co. Pumpking Cold Press
Stone Brewing Crime and Punishment
Tattered Flag in Middletown, PA
Millworks, Harrisburg PA

Be sure to stick around for the After Show. Special thanks to Tierney for coming on the show.

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.

Cheers!

Total Mango Bomb Recall

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Total Recall is a fantastic movie. I love the original. It is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best movies. It is a fantastically crafted original story by Philip K. Dick, brought to life on the screen and has aged pretty well for a sci-fi flick from 1990.

The 2012 remake was an absolute mess and it bombed at the box office.

Pizza Boy recently attempted their own remake of a classic.

Al Kominski had a hand in brewing at least two Tröegs Scratch beers by my recollection: Scratch 58 and 98. Those Scratch Triple Mango IPAs, were high gravity beers with mango and hops in massive quantities. They were great. Classics of the Central PA craft brewing revolution.

Fast forward to 2016 and Mango Bomb was touted as an “extreme beer,” this time by Pizza Boy. It too was brewed with an insane amount of mango and hops to go along with its 14% ABV.

This beer is bombed out in every sense.

I was excited to try it. I recalled the first two Mango Triple IPAs. I even pulled a cellared Scratch 98 out for #DrinkItNow in February. These were great beers. I was hoping for a great remake but I got something else.

The beer is totally opaque and sits thick in the glass. Mouth feel is akin to a thin, lightly carbonated tomato juice. The smell is mangos, dank hops, and booze. This beer is boozy from start to finish; and not pleasantly.

The flavors are of mango puree and mango rind. The hops are aggressive and punishing. The alpha acid bitterness, off the charts and lacking a balance of sweetness or malts to make it tolerable. The finish is that of Everclear and rubbing alcohol. This beer is bombed out so the name is appropriate. As a study for what is possible when pushing flavors to the extreme this beer achieves, but little else as it is nearly undrinkable.

Mango Bomb is like the three breasted mutant hooker from Total Recall. That sounds awesome. I wanted to see that.

But three tits are just weird and I only have two hands. So why was I so excited in the first place? More can sometimes just be more; not better.

Also the remakes rarely live up to the original. This remake was a bomb in name and result.

Post Script:

I have praised Al and Terry many times here on this blog and elsewhere. Unquestionably, they make great beers. Hell, they brewed a phenomenal beer with Boo-Berry cereal. But this one was a mess and just awful. That was a first for these guys. If they go another five years without putting out a bad beer, who could find much fault in that?

I was slow to post this, so now the beer is off the tap list at Al’s. I hope it gets toned down before making another appearance.

I hate ripping a beer. I don’t particularly like doing it.

 

Harrisburg Beer Week 2.0

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April 22-30, 2016

This Friday represents the start of Harrisburg Beer Week. There are 200+ events in Harrisburg and the surrounding Central PA area. Every day there are multiple events. Nearly all of which are offering either a special on craft beers or tapping sought after rarities. Here is a quick rundown of what I think are the some of the events worth your time. These are both some of the signature events and a couple “deep tracks.”

April 22: Day 1

Sturges Speakeasy Firkin Kick-Off: Every devoted beer drinker knows that before the party starts you have to pre-game. Before the VIP Kick-Off Party swing by Sturges for a Victory Brewing Company firkin.  Victory rarely sends firkins out of their brewery so getting one is kind of a big deal.  Tapping is at 4.

HBG Beer Week VIP Kick-Off Party: The official start of Harrisburg Beer Week actually starts with the VIP Kick-Off at Appalachian Brewing Company. Tickets are limited and this is your first chance to get a sip of the 2016 (717) Collaboration Ale.  I will be at this event even though that seriously damages the VIP cred. I am more of a VMP (Very Mediocre Person). Expect a write up about the (717) Collaboration Ale the next day. I am really looking forward to this beer.

Goose Island BCS & Sushi Pairing: Rich, greasy stouts pair beautifully with oysters; this is true. Bourbon County Stout by Goose Island is a world class beer and finding it can sometimes feel like looking for a snowflake in hell; this is true.  Does Wegman’s pairing BCS with Sushi taste good? Find out if that is true at this event.

April 23: Day 2

Al’s of Hampden Founders Breakfast Stout Tapping: Look, you can’t drink all day unless you start first thing and there are few beers that taste better while you still have bed head than Founders Breakfast Stout. Tapping is at 9 am.

HBG Beer Week Maybe 5K:  This is a race, sort of.  You see you run as far as you want over 60 minutes which is plenty for a very, light stroll to 5K or a respectable 10K pace.  Either way it’s a great way to “Earn your Beer.” Plus you get to support the PA Beer Alliance and Zeroday is hosting. It’s cool… I promise.

April 24, Day 3:

Pizza Boy Brewing Permasmile Bottle Release:  This beer needs little introduction. Permasmile is world class and highly sought after.  This new release is going to be big.

Scotzin Bros Battle of the Homebrew Clubs: Big event last year going to be even bigger at this time I moves to the baseball stadium on City Island. These are serious brewers and they will all be bringing their best work to win the crown.

April 25, Day 4:

Beer vs. Wine Chocolate Tasting: The Black Gryphon in Elizabethtown is a secretly good beer bar that also has great food. In the home of Dove Chocolate, watch beer and wine go head-to-head in pairings with artisan chocolates.

April 26, Day 5:

Battle of the Brewers at Grain + Verse: Local welterweight Zeroday goes toe-to-toe with Mid-Atlantic heavyweight DuClaw Brewing to see who the crowd favorite is.

Meet the Owner Beer Dinner at Funk Brewing Co.: Elizabethtown’s Funk Brewing opened less than a year ago and has already gathered quite the following in my neck of the woods. This event is a chance to sample their beers and enjoy a four course meal while meeting the owner, Jon “Norm” Norman.

April 27, Day 6:

ZerØday Brewing Co. Firkin Event: Many firkin sometimes just taste involve tasting the beer with some crazy shit put into the “can.” ZerØday firkins tend to have a little more thought behind them. Expect something great when Theo & Brandalynn Armstrong are tapping one. This will also be a “Keep the Glass Event.” Should be great.

HBG River Rescue Open House: While celebrating and drinking beer are the method, the purpose of HBG Beer Week is to support the Harrisburg River Rescue. Do a little more of the later by visiting the Rescue and enjoying a glass of Bent Propeller IPA, some BBQ and some home brew version of Bent Propeller.

April 28, Day 7:

Moo-Duck Brewery’s Jack Daniels Cherry Wine Imperial Porter Release:  Moo-Duck Brewery in Elizabethtown took their Imperial Pops Porter and aged in a Jack Daniels barrel that previously held a cherry wine by The Vineyard at Grandview.  It will be on tap along with Fifty (50) bottle available to take home. Mike Brubaker is really gunning for a unique beer on this one, should be great.

April 29, Day 8:

Aroogas 2nd Street Session IPA Release: Aroogas, Hop Hedz and St. Boniface brewed up this special session IPA just for this week and this is your chance to get it as God intended all beer to be, fresh and on firkin. Tapping is 6 pm.

April 30, Day 9:

Little Big Beer Fest:  This is the signature event of the HBG Beer Week in my opinion If you can go to only one event all week, this is the one you want to be attending. Little runs of some absolutely devastatingly good beers with massive ABVs.  I went last year and it was by far the best event of the week. Tickets will sell out… get yours soon.

Post Script: I mention this above but it demands further attention. While celebrating the wealth of great beers we have access to and are producing in Central PA, it can’t be forgotten that HBG Beer Week supports the Harrisburg River Rescue. Many of these events directly and the through the purchase of HBW merchandise support the River Rescue.

In advance a big thank you should be made to the girls from Stouts and Stilettos (ChelseaSweet Colleen and specifically, Tierney… This is her baby.) Sara Bozich, and Jimi the Intern; along with all their volunteers. Big local events like this take a ton of work and heavy lifting.  If you see them out, thank them and buy’em a beer.

Support the River Rescue.

Support your local Brewer. Drink Local.

Fresh Flick and a Fresh Beer.

Brewed in the Burg

This past weekend GK Visual and SaraBozich.com released Brewed in the Burg, a documentary now available online at Vimeo. This film debuted during Harrisburg Beer Week to resounding praise.

I caught it then but now that it is online, I wanted to take the time to really digest the film. It was an opportunity to pick up on all the nuance and ideas kicked around by the Who’s Who of the Harrisburg-area craft beer industry. It is an impressive line up of interviews:

So I hunted down the freshest local beer I could find to enjoy while watching. I found the perfect beer. It was a Crowler of Pizza Boy’s Murren River IPA; a super fresh batch tapped just two days prior (7/12/15).
The Murren River was piney and dank in the nose. Heady as hell, this straw colored American IPA is excellent from start to finish. Well bodied with a great clean mouth feel it providing a firm head that laced the glass perfectly. Murren River had a slight sweetness that was cut with balanced piney and citrus hops. The finish is of orange and a subtle hint of earth and grass. It came with a long dry finish that belies the easy drinking tones. This beer clocks in like a Cruiserweight with 7.6% ABV but drinks well below its weight class.

I loved this beer and it merges perfectly with a important quality of craft beer discussed within Brewed in the Burg. Right in the middle, it discusses the importance of freshness. This is the obvious and unassailable advantage of drinking local craft beer. It is impossible to get a beer as fresh as I did today any other way. This matters. It tastes better and you are getting the beer exactly as the brewer intended.

The other themes discussed are true of any craft beer community: supporting local business, fraternity between brewers, friendships cultivated among beer drinkers and a love for great beer.

The way this film is true to Harrisburg is the people on which it focuses. It could get easily lost that this documentary is about just craft beer brewed in Harrisburg. What Sara and GK Visual have done is weave a story about local brewers, small businessmen and women, beer drinkers and people that write about it or just enjoy drinking it. These are salt of the earth people that are doing extraordinary things in an extraordinary industry. Stick around and watch the outtakes… This was a great reminder that these are just hardworking people; many of them making good on a dream.

Craft beer becomes a conduit for telling their story. That is the take away from Brewed in the Burg. The slickly shot and edited documentary is about the people that make the local craft beer industry possible.

Please check out the video at http://vimeo.com/gkvisual/brewedintheburg and use the tip jar. Brewed in the Burg is a movie worth a couple of your bucks. This doc will give you an understanding of how a sublime Intangible Ale, a crisp Sunshine Pils or whatever you are nursing at ZerØday got into your glass. Through people’s hard work and dedication to the craft of brewing beer.