Who would of thought that following your brother to Boulder, Colorado while he attended college would lead to two brothers starting and owning one of the best breweries in the Eastern part of the United States. That is what happened when John Trogner followed his brother Chris to Boulder. In 1997 they opened a brewery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and since then they have been brewing some great beer. In this interview we talk about Tröegs Scratch Beer Series, dream six packs and if he thinks the craft beer industry can handle this crazy growth and much more.
How did you get into the beer business?
brewery’s roots began in Boulder, CO, where my brother Chris was attending
college. I eventually moved there and landed a job at a brewpub while Chris
finished school and developed a business plan. Three years later we returned to
Central PA with plans to build a production brewery. We founded Tröegs in 1996,
and sold our first keg of beer in Harrisburg on July 18, 1997.
How much beer will you brew this year?
produced 44,000 barrels in 2012 and project to be at around 55,000 by the close
Will you be coming out with any new beers this
year? If yes what style of beer will it be and what will the name be?
constantly working on new ideas for beers. Our Scratch Series allows us to brew
small test batches and gauge the public’s interest. Currently, we are in the
process of expanding our packaging room, which will allow us to produce both
12oz. and 22oz. bottles. We’re in the process of adding a canning line, but
we’re still working on that. We’re also adding a third line for 375ml and 750ml
corked and caged bottles. This will allow us to expand our Splinter Series, our
line of limited barrel-aged beers.
What is your most popular beer that you brew?
our flagship beers were HopBack Amber and Troegenator Double Bock, each selling
about the same volume (HopBack thriving on draft and Troegenator, in bottle
sales). However, our newest year-round beer, Perpetual IPA, is poised to become
our number one seller by the end of the year.
Can you tell me more about your Scratch Beer
Scratch Beer Series allows us to experiment with new brewing techniques and use
non-traditional ingredients. What started as an idea to kick off our 10th
anniversary has developed into more than 100 different limited beers that are
typically available only at the brewery Tasting Room. The Scratch Beer Series
has evolved into a proving ground for potential year-round or seasonal releases
– both Flying Mouflan and Perpetual IPA were first introduced as test batches
in the Scratch Beer Series.
What is the most difficult part about getting
yours on shelves and into bars?
need to set the table stakes high and ‘up your ante’. Maintaining quality and
consistency is crucial, but so is shelf space. The more competition there is,
the more difficult it is to retain shelf space in stores. You need to stay
ahead of the curve and remain relevant in the industry without losing focus of
what you do.
could have a dream 6 pack what beers would you pick to be in it?
I can tell you what WOULDN’T be in it – smoked beers! What
would be in it would be a hoppy beer straight off the bottling line, a beer
with über-fresh yeast, and of course a few session beers.
craft beer industry has had a significant amount of growth in the past 10
years. Do you think the craft beer industry can handle this growth?
When Tröegs first opened in 1996, a lot of
non-beer people were getting into the industry, which resulted in a broad
spectrum of beer quality. There were some great startup breweries, not-so-great
startup breweries, and bad breweries, to use relative terms. So we had a
weeding out period from 1996 through 2000. The difference was distribution shut
down for most breweries. Most wholesalers wouldn’t take on new breweries during
that time, which is part of the reason we only distributed to Central PA.
Basically, nobody would pick us up, which turned out to be a blessing in
disguise. Today, even the nano-breweries starting up are way ahead of the
startup breweries back in 1996. The technology is different, the awareness is
different, the taste buds are different, even the public is different. It’s
just a craft-savvy mindset. Today, we have the positive components of
consistency, creativity, and caliber of brewing. Wholesalers are also more open
to taking on new craft breweries. There’s never been more of an opportunity for
wholesale beer than right now. I don’t know how long that window will stay
open, but it is here now.