Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Crosstown Scratching

Existing in Pennsylvania as a beer drinker, whether you drink the greatest American craft beers, the far flung imports, or the mega-industrial yellow lagers, you are, for the most part, resigned to buying cases. Cases are a great way to get really, really familiar with a beer because you’re not just chancing a six-pack, you’re invested in the mother of all cartons- the 24-pack. It can get to be a bit laborious, space consuming, and expensive if you’re the type of folk that enjoys quite a bit of variety.

Adapting and evolving as we have, many buyers of great beer and their beer drinking friends have taken to splitting cases or trading beers from one case to another to get more variety for their buck. This allows folks with some semblance of a budget to get their hands on beers that they’d otherwise have to shell out for 24 bottles of. In some instances and when the law permits, you have to go directly to the source to get your beer as is the case with the Troegs Scratch Beer Series.

Go ahead and

The brothers Trogner got their start with a plan and a whole lot of studying. They figured out what they wanted to brew, how they wanted to brew, and under what working conditions they wanted to both brew and distribute it. Along the way they made plenty of batches of homebrew and test beers as they began to build their craft beer empire.

As a 10th Anniversary project and treat for their fans, Troegs began to run single batch releases of their early recipes a little over a year ago. These beers have been fun and interesting with some ripe for the picking right away and others that warrant a bit of time in the cellar to catch up with themselves. Runs of each beer have been in the neighborhood of 200 cases and limited kegs. Get the full rundown here.

While I’ve tasted quite a few, I haven’t had a chance to taste them all. They’ve all been very exciting beers, but keeping up hasn’t been easy due to Harrisburg being where it is and me being where I am. Most recently, the Grand Cru finished me off at the Goat Races, while The Flying Mouflan, a Nugget Nectar inspired barleywine, has taken top honors for me. The Tripels have been really, really good too.

Now that brings us to my fridge. I have a lot of good stuff in there…more now because I’ve been shuffling beers out of their cases and boxes and into the ice box since I live on the top floor of a very old house. It gets hot in there and I like my beer in tip top shape, so there’s quite the traffic jam piling up on my top shelf. Way back at October’s end I scored a six-pack of Scratch 5, the oatmeal stout.

Gone are the days when the ox fall down, he’d take up the yoke and plow the fields around.

Troegs Oatmeal Stout was one of those beers that spent some time on their seasonal list and unfortunately fell by the wayside. I’m glad to have gotten my share back in the day and now I have 3 bottles of this Imperialized version left to enjoy. I stuck mine all in the fridge, but will gladly trade a cold one for a warm one to anyone interested in stopping by. I would love to put one of these in my satellite cellar in Pottstown.

Here’s the skinny:

“Scratch Beer #5-2007
Sold Out
Release Date: Saturday, October 27th
Inspiration: Imperial Oatmeal Stout

O.G.: 23 Plato
A.B.V.: 9.6%
I.B.U.’s: 55
Malts: Dark Crystal, Chocolate, Roast, Oats
Hops: Magnum, German Northern Brewers, Palisade

Enjoy this as a token of our appreciation. With the demise of Tröegs Oatmeal Stout, this long-forgotten recipe serves as an inspiration and a heartfelt thanks to our faithful stout fans.

What’s special here? We start with a seductive malty sweetness, combine it with hints of chocolate and roasted flavors and round out the texture and taste with a healthy helping of oats. A three-hop blend brings perfect balance to the sweet malt adding a dry finish to this big beer.”

So I decided last night was certainly as good as any to crack one of these guys open. It was a little green for me back in October, so I let the rest lie for a while. I knew that my case mates, Bryan and Dave also had theirs around so I put in the phone calls and decided we’d have a solo tasting with a discussion to follow this morning. Bryan was on board, but Dave found out too late and couldn’t play ball.

We both got chocolate and roast in the beer way in the back, but the big time flavor going on here was fruity esters. The beer started out pretty big around 1.096 and the taste wasn’t of straight heat and alcohol burn, which put the esters in a good role. There’s was definitely a bit of heat, but at 9.6% I’d say that’s gonna be a tough one to avoid.

We both found the reddish hue interesting. It is something common in dark beers that’s not always perceivable to the skinny dipping eye, but this picture kind of surprised me…and yes, I realize I need to dust. I didn’t touch this picture up at all and the lamp behind the glass has a somewhat thick shade, so you’re not seeing the result of an exposed bulb.

In all, this was a lot of fun to drink. I wish I’d have gotten bottles to the cellar before the heat came, because I would love to crack one of these open sometime this fall to get the one year treatment. I’m wondering if a certain bottle shop owner is thinking the same thing, I’ll have to check in. Heck, I could eat crab legs or scrounge for Southampton leftovers and Ithaca newbies.


“Scratch Beer #12-2008 Update
Scratch Beer 12-2008—IPA—will be released on Saturday, June 21. Here are the vital statistics:

O.G.: 15.5 Plato
A.B.V.: 6.5%
I.B.U.’s: 75
Malt: Pils, Vienna
Yeast: Thames Valley Ale
Hops: Amarillo, Warrior, Mt. Hood

If you want a sneak preview of Scratch 12-2008, head to either Drafting Room location on Thursday, June 19, for the release of Drafting Room 14th Anniversary Ale—it’s the same beer.”

Looks like a stop at The Drafting Room will be in order on the way to the normal Thursday stop at the sock hop. Hop sock?


bootboi said...

i love beer!

Dan Bengel said...

Looks like I will see you there.

Dr Joel said...

Wow, seems like a lot of people will be coming out for this. I'm looking forward to it. Plus i still haven't seen a post airplane Big Dan...'bout time.