So this is going to be a bit different than my normal beer reviews, because this is a “mutli-beer review” (four for the price of 1!). Since I’m doing them only as tasters rather than as full drafts, I figure instead of doing a separate beer review for each would be a bit superfluous and decided to do it as one conglomerate post. Plus this also lets me go a bit into the detail of beer flights at breweries and how they are different at different places, and even how Troegs themselves recently changed their beer flights.
Firstly, lets go into beer flights at breweries (and some bars do them as well) in general. Typically a flight is either one you create yourself or made up by the brewery of anywhere from 3-5 (though some do much larger ones of six or even ten – Spring House and Hop River Bend do very big flights), and they are typically pours of 4oz or 5oz depending on flight size, cost, etc. Some breweries do a “choose” your own flight, where you pick X number from their tap, and some do a “here’s our flight”. Likewise some do a general price for their flight and some do a “by beer” flight cost (ie. if you pick more stouts, your flight will likely be more expensive than if you picked four hefes).
Troegs Brewery (Hershey Pennsylvania, just down the road from HersheyPark) offers two choices – a pre-set “regular” flight and a “build your own”. The pre-set “regulars” is their mainstays, Perpetual, Troegenator, When in Doubt, HopBack Amber Ale, and their current Hop Cycle beer (this time of year that is now Field Study). And this varies throughout the season with the stout being added in and with some other changes here and there.
As for Troegs ‘build your flight’, this has changed. And twice very recently. So for seemingly forever (up until about 2-3 months ago) it was 3 beers of your choice on their draft menu (no bottled beers, so none of their foeder release beers like Blackberry Tizzy, Farmette, Freaky Peach, etc.) and it came in 5oz pours in their sample glasses. 6$ for the flight. This could include everything from their mainstays (like Perpetual, Troegenator, etc.) to their scratch system (they typically release a new scratch beer as a one-off each Thursday). I liked to make a stop out at to Troegs about every two-three weeks and do a flight of their scratches that I haven’t had yet, and any new releases they have done (like when Lollihop, Field Study, Golden Thing, etc get released), and for 6$ (+2$ tip minimum) you couldn’t beat that. Was great for a little noon-lunch-time stop while kiddos were in school or while running errands.
About two months ago they changed it to now make it a flight of 4 beers, same policy (pre-set or build your own) but the cost now being 8$ rather than the 6$ (understandable increase). 2$ a pour is pretty standard for most flights, and very reasonable when you have a full list of choices of various styles and with their scratch system and their mainstays there is definitely a lot of choices there.
So when I came in this time after a morning full of errands (DMV, car garage, Giant, and the Hershey Library) I did my usual and got a flight of the four latest scratches (all of which were new to me). The board still stated the new policy of “Chose Your Flight – Our Regulars or Build Your Own Flight, 8$”. So I built my own, and did my typical, and got the four scratches listed herein.
Well, their policy has once more changed, to what many other breweries do, which is “unlimited flight” but its price-adjusted. 2$ for the standard, plus a slight cent increase depending on style. So instead of the 8$ for my flight, it came out to be 11.25$ for the four. Which broke down to 2.75$ x3 and the last beer being 3$. Not terribly bad at all and nothing to be alarmed about (just something to be aware of, especially since there was no price listings, in case you are heading to Troegs soon). (Hopefully with the change to their flight policy they will start listing the prices per oz style pourings so people can be aware of this ahead of pay-out). Still 11.25$ isn’t bad for four brand new beers, so I was ready to dive in.
The scratch system at Troegs can be hit or miss. Its their small barrel system that they use to experiment on and try out new styles, techniques, whirlpooling, hop cycling, etc, to try and get new ideas, and and just in general advance their knowledge of brewing. Its been through this that we’ve gotten beers like Nimble Giant, Blizzard of Hops, Lollihop, and Golden Thing (as well as many many many over the past years, like Naked Elf, etc.). Nimble Giant itself was many various scratch beers that they honed in and dialed in til they got it to just how they wanted it, and then released as the big bad summer monster itself Nimble Giant.
So as you can see the scratch system has been a big boon for Troegs and especially with their larger facility in Hershey and with time and years of practice they have gotten some great results out of it. And its also a great way for people in the area to consistently try new beers from Troegs despite Troegs being everywhere in the market.
So starting off with this picture and working my way left to right like a book, I have Scratch #379, Scratch #378, Scratch #376, and finally Scratch #377. I will break each of these down and do a bit of a mini-beer review for each.
(The styles above in order are – Pilsner, DIPA, Gose, DIPA.)
Scratch #379 – Krausened Keller Pilsner
Beer Style: Pilsner – German (Open)
Untappd Write-Up: The delicate profile of a good pilsner leaves nowhere to hide. For Scratch #379, hot-steep tests with four grains pointed us to a pilsen malt that struck the right balance between earthy straw notes and a clean finish. One pound per barrel of Saaz, the quintessential Noble Hop, adds a delicate herbal layer. Finally, we krausened this beer, adding wort and fresh yeast as it finished up fermentation to create a soft, bready mouthfeel. When every ingredient comes through just-so, it’s pilsner perfection.
We taste: flowering herbs, fruity esters, earthy straw.
I will be honest with this, Pilsner is typically not my style. I’ll drink them and can enjoy and appreciate them, but rarely do I reach for them. In that vein, if I’m having something I’ll grab a good well produced lager (the 717 Lager this year was very good) rather than a Pilsner.
Troegs has been experimenting a bit heavily with these Krausened style beers. I believe this is their third rendition of it on their scratch system and it seems like their dialing it in and trying to perfect it for a possible full-fledged beer.
Luckily I got the ‘worst’ of the flight out of the way first. And by ‘worst’ I don’t mean its a horrible beer, just out of these four, it comes in last. Its not a horrible beer by any means, but it is completely non-interesting and frankly boring. Its light, watery, and dull, without much flavor. Maybe not bad as a palate cleanser between beers, or maybe pilsner fans will enjoy the flavor more, but for me it didn’t have the crisp and the pop of a pilsner or lager and it tasted very light and without flavor. Typically there is an earthy, sometimes bready, flavor to most pilsners or lagers, and this is definitely lacking in both of those flavors.
My Untappd rating: ***
Global Untappd Rating: 3.86 (as of 6.13.19)
Scratch #378 – DIPA (Peach and Apricot)
Beer Style: Double Imperial IPA
IBU: None listed
Hops: Lotus, El Dorado, Azacca
Untappd Write-Up: We’re hot on the heels of a new Double IPA. An oat-dominated malt bill gives this beer a super-soft mouthfeel, and it’s loaded with 25 pounds per barrel of fuzzy peaches and apricots. A hop combo of Lotus, El Dorado and Azacca complements the stone fruit with notes of orange rind and pear, and a fruit-forward yeast pulls in flavors reminiscent of gummy peach rings.
We taste: juicy peach, orange rind, brown sugar
This is a wonderfully delicious brew. This is very fruity, very in your face juicy, and just wonderfully delicious. The ABV is completely hidden (a noticeable trend in Troegs DIPAs) and there is no boozyness, no hop bitterness, nothing but clean hazy juice IPA. Probably could be considered a NEIPA but Troegs doesn’t like to label their beers that way.
The appearance is a beautiful orange golden hue and the smell is phenomenal. Straight peach with the hint of apricot and slight hoppy smell backbone to it. The mouthfeel is soft and wonderful and this is just a delightful beer all around.
My Untappd Rating: ***.75/****
Global Untappd rating: 3.83 (as of 6.13.19)
Scratch 376 – Passionfruit & Guava Tart Ale
Beer Style: Sour – Gose
Untappd Write-up: This week’s small-batch Scratch release was born at the crossroads of a few styles and ingredients we’ve been diving into lately. Hornindal Kviek yeast (you might remember it from our recent Brut IPAs) ferments hot and lays down a base of dank pineapple and fruity esters. On top of that, we took a page from our Tart & Fruit Series and loaded this beer up with fruit – in this case passionfruit and guava.
We taste: a tart cross between strawberries and pears, pineapple, passionfruit
A nice change of pace from the last DIPA and the pilsner before it, though just as fruity and tasty at the juicy DIPA. Despite the description I didn’t really get any strawberry or pineapple flavors but the passionfruit definitely came through big time with the guava added a nice effect to it.
The kveik yeast gives it the tart flavor, a good puckering and adds some distinguishable notes for those who have had kveik yeast before that makes it pretty easily apparent.
This has a beautiful coloring just like the peach/apricot DIPA, a nice golden straw with the hazyness and juicy look that the fruits give off. The aroma is also a a powerful fruity punch of passionfruit and a host of other floral fruity smells (notably pear and guava).
A nice lingering aftertaste that lets the fruit flavors cling to your tongue.
My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 3.95 (as of 6.13.19)
Scratch 377 – Oat IPA
Last but not least, we get to the Scratch 377 Oat IPA, which they’ve done some cans of but I’m just getting the small taster. This is a juicy DIPA that some could peg down as a NEIPA though Troegs is pretty adamant about not using that naming style.
Beer Style: IPA – Imperial Double
IBU: None Listed
Hops: El Dorado, Citra, Mosaic
With a malt bill dominated by oats and unmalted wheat, Scratch #377 has a soft, rich mouthfeel, laying a canvas that lets the hops shine. A combination of El Dorado, Citra and Mosaic gives us resiny mango, grapefruit and passionfruit notes, and a new-to-us yeast adds juicy notes of peach.
We taste: passionfruit, stone fruit, peach, pine
This is definitely the best of the four pack sampling I did. This is a bright, powerful, juicy, gorgeous looking beer. With a first sip you are instantly enjoying and falling in love with it and wanting much more of it. I can see why they decided to can this, and they have done several other versions of this in their scratch series, so here’s hoping they decide to turn this into a staple beer.
The coloring is a wonderful hazy juicy golden straw beer. Very reminiscent of Tree House or other hazy creations from up north. The aroma is likewise a wonderful blend of hop smells with a bit of pine notes and very heavy mango.
First sip you can get the juicyness of the hops with no true hop bitterness, a burst of mango and passionfruit notes with the right balancing of the malt to give it a very heavy mouthfeel that just feels right.
This is definitely one of their better offerings in quite some time, and a wonderful beer all around. They’ve gone through a couple iterations of these Oat IPAs and most have been hazy. Similar to their krausened ones that they’ve been doing, they’ve been pumping out a new Oat IPA seemingly once per 3 weeks or so on their scratch system, and most have been very good, but this is probably their best version so far.
My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.98 (as of 6.13.19)
If you can ever get into the Hershey area, I highly recommend stopping in at Troegs, its a lovely facility, both inside and out. (I sat out in their new-ish beer garden area to relax in peace to drink mine while reading). They have a wonderful kitchen (both upstairs and downstairs) and a top-notch brewery tour. Definitely a must stop if you are in the Hershey area.
Until next time everyone, cheers!