We are fortunate to live in a region with a rich brewing tradition and an abundance of high-quality craft breweries. Before Prohibition, the Philadelphia area was home to over 100 independent breweries. Pottsville’s D.G. Yuengling & Son braved the nearly 14-year stretch from the 18th to the 21st amendments by producing so-called near beer and dairy products, and has since earned the title of the oldest brewery in the U.S. Today, Pennsylvania is home to some of the nation’s finest craft breweries, including Victory, Yards, Weyerbacher and Sly Fox, to name a few. But one of my favorites has to be Troegs Brewing Co. in Hershey, Pa.
Troegs co-founders and Mechanicsburg, Pa., natives Chris and John Trogner were both professionally trained brewers with an abundance of experience in the industry before Troegs became a reality. John worked at a brewpub in Boulder, Colo., for three years while taking intensive brewing classes, and Chris managed a restaurant and completed his business education while formulating marketing strategies for their quietly blossoming brewery endeavor. Their dream of operating their own brewery came to fruition in 1997 with the opening of Troegs Brewing Co. in Harrisburg, Pa.
Troegs is now located in Hershey and distributes to eight states. The brewery offers free self-guided tours seven days a week, and the tasting room even has puzzles and coloring books to keep children occupied while their questionably prudent parents partake in sampling pints and pints of Troegs beer. This way the little buggers don’t have to witness firsthand the type of behavior that probably led to their existence in the first place. Just promise the kids a trip to Hershey’s Chocolate World five minutes down the road and they’ll be happy, right? Right.
Hearken! It’s late January, and that means that the glorious Troegs Nugget Nectar is back again. This fabulous limited release is, interestingly enough, based on a scaled-up recipe of their year-round HopBack Amber Ale. More malts mean more alcohol and depth, and the accompanying increase in sweetness necessitates larger amounts of hops to balance out the flavors while retaining a powerful hoppy punch.
I grabbed a 12-ounce bottle from Rybrew for $3.50. Pouring the beer into a pint glass, the first things to note are its strikingly clear red-orange hue and its impressive frothy foam stand that lingers on the glass even after several sips. Beer nerds call this effect lacing, and some say it indicates high-quality hops and attention to brewing technique. Others say it means absolutely nothing. Either way, this is a pretty beer. The aroma is dominated by pungent floral and spicy hop notes, with some sweet, grainy malts in the background. The taste’s main element is an array of hop flavors with slight but noticeable bready malt notes present — just enough to add a bit of malt complexity to an otherwise very hoppy beer. Long after my last sip, residual hop flavors continued to linger on the palate.
This brew is proof that a hoppy beer can still achieve balance and attain a higher dimensionality of flavor, so to speak. This is simply a fantastic beer with a huge depth of flavor. I would recommend grabbing some Nugget Nectar while you can, as it’s only available until March. Cheers!
My ratings (out of 5):
7.5 percent ABV
$3.50 12-ounce bottle at Rybrew