Troegs is an utterly fantastic brewery in Harrisburg, PA, which is about 90 minutes or so from Philadelphia, with a reasonable amount of speeding and light traffic. I’ve never actually been there, but I can find the brewery on a map, and, like, I’ve had the beers before, so I’m pretty confident in everything I’ve said so far.
Troegs makes a number of excellent and popular beers. Their Christmas beer, Naked Elf, is a spicy, big ale, and worth a try next to a fireplace. Ya know, instead of hot chocolate. Their Troegenator Doppelbock won an award at the Great American Beer Festival this year, and is probably on par, in quality, with Ayinger’s celebrated Celebrator Doppelbock. Their Nugget Nectar is something of a legendary superhopped amber ale, especially since a local bar had the stuff on a hand pump, and it was pouring with unrivaled creamy smoothness. As a bonus, almost all their beers can be had at reasonable prices, so this is a brewery to treasured, their beers to be hoarded and consumed greedily by grateful masses.
The brewery was founded by two brothers, Chris and John Trogner (according to the website, Trogner, combined with kroeg, the Flemish word for pub, yielded Troeg). Before starting the brewery, the brothers, obviously, had a significant interest in craft beer drinking, and as such, they would try different beers, making notes upon them, and then try to emulate the styles they liked as homebrewers. Those early, homebrew recipes are what led to the Troegs Brewing Company. This year, the 10th birthday for Troegs, the brothers decided to release a series of one-off beers, called the Scratch Beer Series. Each beer would be made from one of their early homebrewing recipes. The 5th Scratch beer was released last weekend at their 10th Anniversary Celebration. The first four Scratch beers (1 – Steam beer, 2 – porter, 3 – tripel, 4 – barleywine), were so well received and the anniversary party so anticipated, that it was expected that Scratch #5 would sell out before the day was over.
I could not go to the party, as I had plans in the afternoon, but was planning to get up early, drive to Harrisburg, pick up a case of the stuff from their bottleshop, and then drive back home to Philly–3 hours of driving for one case of beer. However, things beyond my control waylaid my plans, and it was assumed that Scratch #5 was lost forever.
And then, thankfully, a local bottle shop sent out their weekly email to let me know that they had, in stock, Scratch 5, and shortly thereafter I appeared to buy four of them.
So, is there any point in telling you about this beer? It was, in all likelihood, a one-off. It’s a beer made a brewery that only distributes in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Virginia. So, only you readers in one of five states even have a chance of finding it, and even then, your chance is small. So, no, there’s probably no point. But in the hope that they do this again next year, I’ll tell you: Scratch #5 is a fantastic beer.
I sat drinking it last night, flipping back and forth between Houseand the Democratic Presidential Debate, which was happening in Philadelphia, at Drexel University. Mrs Thursday was on a nearby chair, battling flu, and going through tissues at a prodigious rate. Brother Goose was lying on the couch, his cheek swollen from having wisdom teeth removed, and his face swollen from an allergic reaction to medicine given to him by the dentist. Everyone was miserable, except for me. Scratch 5 is an oatmeal stout. I don’t know the alcohol content, but I can tell you, you can’t taste it. The beer is black and opaque, and it smells sickly sweet, like an oatmeal raisin cookie. The beer feels heavy in the glass. Much heavier than expected. The taste isn’t nearly so sweet as the smell, but some natural oatmeal sweetness comes through, anyway. The beer is thick like heavy cream, with just a touch of bitterness at the end, which doesn’t linger. It’s an utterly fantastic beer. I hope they make it again.