This was my ‘new’ beer of the night last night; for those new or unfamiliar, in November, I make sure to have at least one brand new (to me) beer every day in November – as well as write one new blog post every day in November (30 new beers, 30 new blog pots); it was a 12oz can I got from Deuane as a gift for bringing him some beers back from Urban Artifact and Braxton Brewing Company from my Indianapolis trip (you can check out links to the trip at the end of this article). So last night (Nov. 22nd) while I was writing up the first full day trip article I drank that and it was my new beer for the day, and I was planning on doing this review today (Nov. 23rd). Well, as it turned out, I ended up meeting my friends Drew and Andy (Drew – is the creator of Knights of Nostalgia; and Andy is the writer for the ‘What Makes a Great Quarantine Brewery article here on The Beer Thrillers) at Troegs Brewery in Hershey today for a lunch (well, beer lunch anyway).
I had originally ran out to Harrisburg because I had to go to the DMV to renew my license, only to find out that I now have to go to Enola to renew my license and they are open Tuesday through Saturday (which… of course… today is a Monday). So I walked my dog along the Green Belt and the Riverfront, taking her over to City Island and back, and then decided I’d hit up ZeroDay Brewing. Well… I forgot they are doing the renovations and reconstruction on the old ZeroDay Brewery on Reily Street, and that their new current location doesn’t open til 4PM; so that was obviously a no – go. So I drove home, dropped off Leela, and met Drew and Andy at Troegs.
Sadly, they did not have a cranberry beer, so I only have a cranberry / lemon or lime or something gose I picked up from Urban Artifact for this year’s Thanksgiving. Typically, Troegs does a cranberry every year for Thanksgiving, usually a porter, sometimes something different, and I try to pick up a 4 pack or 6 pack or a crowler of it for the meal. Also, in recent months, it seems Troegs has also really slowed up on their scratch series. Pre-COVID they were doing a new scratch release every Thursday (or nearly every Thursday; and even sometimes doubling up and releasing two on a Thursday), but it seems now they have really slowed up their scratch series, and are releasing them intermittently.
So there was a bit of a dearth in ‘new’ beers for me to try at Troegs today. I was afraid I’d have to drink more when I got home just to hit my requirement of a new beer today, but, I am being a bit cheeky and calling my Mad Elf and Mad Elf Grand Cru picks as ‘new’ since they are technically the Mad Elf (2020) and Mad Elf Grand Cru (2020) vintages. Bit of a loophole… but I’m taking it.
Troegs has slacked a bit on their uptight mandates as well. No longer needing to check into the host and waiting for a text to be seated, and no longer having to “all be together” before seating, I was able to meet up with Drew and Andy who were already seated. Drew ordered a pork waffle thing (no clue), and Andy got fries, I just drank. I had a draft of the Grand Cacao, followed by the Coco-Nator, then the Mad Elf Grand Cru (2020) and the Mad Elf (2020). Funny thing – the very first beer review on the blog here was the scratch Coco-Nator released a year and a half ago – Scratch #375 – Coco-Nator. They then released it later last year as a new seasonal – Coco-Nator, and now its been re-released for the first time this year. And now, here I am, also enjoying a Grand Cacao that I will be doing as another review for Troegs on the blog. (And here I was just thinking to myself how it’s been a ‘hot minute’ since I’ve done a Troegs beer review.) Its almost like coming full circle….
The nice thing about doing the thirty blogs in thirty days thing, is that it gives me a chance to do a lot of reviews I might have skipped, and to really hit a lot of local breweries for the reviews. Getting to do a Tattered Flag one (The Pandalorian) as a recent local brewery beer review. You can see all of my November 2020 posts here: November 2020. Its fun to do a mix-up of local brewery reviews to get the name out and to help promote and because its obviously what I’m drinking, as well as doing some bigger name ones that are maybe from further away breweries or just bigger known beers or breweries, like the Yuengling Hershey Porter or Aslin’s Isolation Anniversary, or Elder Pine Brewing and Blending’s Villeinage.
Troegs Independent Brewing has always put out very strong beers, solid, hard to ignore, hard to hate beers. They are also the biggest local craft brewery in the Central PA area. One of the biggest producers in Pennsylvania, and the East Coast alone. They are often talked about, and one of the more well known breweries. So its great having them theoretically “right in our backyard”. When I was coming of age (of drinking…. legally) (at 21), they were the first real craft brewery that I got into (not counting Sam Adams) and was really the first brewery I visited and went to often. I don’t get to them as much as I used to, and there’s a ton more options now in the area, but they are still a solid brewery.
So let’s break down this latest seasonal beer from Troegs Brewing:
Beer: Grand Cacao
Brewery: Troegs Independent Brewing
Style: Stout – Milk / Sweet
Welcome to Grand Cacao. This deliciously decadent stout is built on a foundation of rich chocolate malt, caramel malt and roasted barley. Cold-steeping on Peruvian cacao nibs and natural vanilla doubles down on the smooth symphony of chocolate, and a splash of milk sugar delivers a velvety sweet and creamy finish.
We taste: milk chocolate, roasty grain, hints of sweet cream
As per usual with a stout, this is dark black, jet fuel black, Razor Ramon hair black. Stephen Hawking black hole black. Black as my….. (oh…. thats too easy….) ….anyway… moving on from the apt description of somebody’s heart and soul that I know….. This is a dark black beer. It had a nice creamy foam head to it, not big, but not small, nice carbonation, and nice lacing on the glass. Good bubbles that were diverse and varied in size.
The aroma is very chocolaty, very cacao, very baker’s chocolate. As me and Drew and Andy were discussing, like with the Yuengling Hershey’s Porter, which is a super sweet chocolate, we kind of (the three of us in consensus) agreed, that we prefer a more bitter baker’s chocolate to a chocolate stout. This smells just like that. This has more of the bitter, earthy, nib, roasted malt, chocolate smell to it.
Taste is surprisingly smooth, but its not the overly sweet Hershey’s syrupy / syrup taste that the above porter has. Despite this being smooth, silky, and creamy, its more of the bitter chocolate notes. The roasted malt and caramel also gives it a very deeper, darker tone and flavor, and brings out more of the bitter and earthy notes, rather than the sweet chocolate. That not to say that this isn’t sweet or creamy or smooth or silky, it is all of those things and more. I think there’s just more complexity to the flavor in that it provides a bitter chocolate taste, while being creamy and smooth and silk and sweet. A nice complexion and degree of difference between the vanilla and the bitter, between the sweet and the bitter, between the cacao nibs and the vanilla and milk sugar. This tastes more like the hot cocoa you get at a football game once the negative 10 degrees sets in fully and turns your hot cocoa into ….well… regular cocoa. Or the milk after a very chocolaty cereal and you ate all the cereal and are now draining the bowl of its chocolatey milk. This is also a pretty crushable drink too. I could easily down a six pack of the 12oz cans of these (thanks Deuane for the can by the way), or if they ever re-release it in four pack at 16oz cans, I could drink a few of them in that size as well. The 6.5% is pretty low (lower than Troegs own Perpetual IPA – their flagship and staple beer and IPA), so its enough to give you a good surprising buzz after a can or two, but not enough to send you hurting for a hangover the next day. (Jokes on my buddies too, telling me I’ll end up with a headache and hangover from the Mad Elf Grand Cru and Mad Elf I had after the Coco-Nator and Grand Cacao…. I don’t get hangovers anymore……..) A low ABV but high flavor stout is always perfect for the fall months and fall weather leading into the more wintry weather and months. This will go great for Thanksgiving and Christmas parties… I mean…. your own personal home get together’s of Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Not sure if this will become a seasonal regular for Troegs or if this was a one-shot done deal, but if it does become a seasonal regular each year, I will certainly be looking forward to it. Make sure you stop out at the brewery for some of this, not sure if the cans are hitting the distributors or stores, but its at the brewery, and its also on draft at the brewery, so make sure you at least get a try of it before it disappears.
My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 3.87 (as of 11.23.20)
This turned into a rather longer winded beer review than I intended, but hopefully you stuck around for it, as its now dragged me from 11PM when I started this til just a wee bit after midnight – 12 – so I’m still counting this as upholding my ‘post’ for the day of the 23rd. (Especially since the time stamp and posting of this is based on when the article was started, so I fly by on a technicality there.)
Be sure to check out some of my other Troegs beer reviews:
- Beer Review: Haze Charmer (Troegs Independent Brewing)
- Beer Review: Scratch #417 – Orange – Lemon Peel IPA (Troegs Independent Brewing)
- Beer Review: Scratch #400 – Pre – Prohibition Lager (Troegs Independent Brewing)
- Multiple Beer Review: Scratch #394, Scratch #395, Scratch #396, and Mad Elf (Troegs Independent Brewing)
- Two Beer Review: Fresh Fest and Trail Day Pale Ale (Troegs Independent Brewing)
- Multiple Beer Review: Fest Lager, Scratch #385 Krausened Dunkel Lager, and Scratch #386 Tangerine – Passionfruit – Guava Tart Ale (Troegs Independent Brewing)
- Beer Review: Fuzzy Nudge (Troegs Independent Brewing)
- Multiple Beer Review: Scratch #382 Blackberry Lime Tart Ale, Scratch #383 Hazy IPA (Citra, Galaxy, and Simcoe), Dear Peter, and Naked Elf (Troegs Independent Brewing)
- Multiple Beer Review: Scratch #379 Krausened Keller Pilsner, Scratch #378 DIPA, Scratch #377 Oat IPA, and Scratch #376 Passionfruit and Guava Tart Ale (Troegs Independent Brewing)
- Beer Review: Scratch #375 Coco-Nator (Troegs Independent Brewing)
For those interested in the Trip to Indianapolis, you can read more through the following articles (some full length articles, some recap articles):
The Trip to Indianapolis – Full Articles:
- Day One: Thousand Steps Trail, Juniata Brewing Company, Ghost Town Trail, Levity Brewing
- Day Two:
- Day Three:
- Day Four:
- Day Five:
- Day Six:
- Day Seven:
The Trip to Indianapolis – Recap Articles:
- The Trip to Indy
- The Trip to Indy – Day One Recap
- The Trip to Indy – Day Two Recap
- The Trip to Indy – Day Three Recap
- The Trip to Indy – Day Four Recap
- The Trip to Indy – Day Five Recap
- The Trip to Indy – Day Six Recap
- The Trip to Indy – Day Seven Recap
- Recap and Stats
As always everyone, thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the beer review and your time here at The Beer Thrillers. Be sure to like, follow, subscribe, and if you want, comment or ask any questions please feel free to do so. Love hearing from you all.
Also be sure to stay safe this Thanksgiving week, with COVID-19 and everything going on, this is going to be a tough week, and one where everyone needs to do their best to stay safe and healthy.
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