Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hooray Beer! Part 2

Yesterday I toured the Troegs brewing facility in Harrisburg. I met Jena, Rachelle, Jake, Dee and Ed at Troegs, expecting us to make up the bulk of the tour group. Upon entering, we realized that not only were we not the only ones, but we were some of the last to arrive. There were approximately fifty beer aficionados and former frat boys waiting in line for 4 oz glasses of Mad Elf (which retails at almost $50 a case) and Troegenator. After puffing out my chest and throwing some well placed elbows, I made it to the front and sampled about two beers (adhering to the one-at-a-time rule) before the tour began. We filed through a door and stood in front of massive brewing tanks awaiting our tour guides knowledge. Troegs is a 10 year old company started by two brothers who love beer. They dreamed of owning and operating a brewery, so they worked from the bottom up, attending brewing schools across the US and doing grunt work in order to learn anything and everything they could about the business. The flavors are based solely on the taste buds of the two brothers and even has an expiration date that adheres to their tastes. They are so insistent upon the quality of their beer, that once an expiration date approaches, the distributors are instructed to pull the cases off the shelves and ship them back to Troegs. This thought gave me a moment of pause, forcing me to seriously contemplate escaping from the tour and Scooby-dooing around the facilities looking for a room filled with past due beers. Sigh. We toured the plant, seeing the numerous brewing tanks, and even the small tank that is used for experimental brews. We were able to taste an array of pre-beer hops, including ones that tasted nutty and others that tasted of chocolate, and smell post-brewing barley, which smelled faintly of hamster food soaked in cat pee. Mmm! The tour then proceeded to the bottling room, where we learned that Troegs chooses brown glass bottles to package their beer in in order to filter out ultra violet light. Ultra violet light is everywhere and is capable of skunking a beer in 90 seconds. Many beers are knowingly packaged in clear bottles, either with skunk as part of the flavor profile of the beer, or with specially manufactured clear bottles that can filter the rays just like brown glass. I also learned that this is the reason that traditional German beer steins are made of porcelain and have lids. The tour concluded in the tasting room we started in. We sampled some more of the beers, including the Dreamweaver Wheat and the Hop Back Amber Ale. Even though I recently toured the Appalachain Brewing Company this tour was very different and well worth the time spent.

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