The first beer we bottle-conditioned here at Tröegs was born from a little inspiration, a lot of perspiration and no small amount of luck.

An unlabeled bottle of raspberry sour from friend and fellow brewer Dan Weirback got John Trogner’s wheels turning. Before long, he was hunting down oak barrels and figuring out what to put in them.

“Weyerbacher was a little brewery up the road, just like us, and they tried something funky,” says John. “We thought, ‘Wow, we like funk. We like fruit. Let’s put some beer in oak and make it funky.’ ”

The Scratch Series had just launched, and Scratch #3, a Belgian-style triple that eventually became LaGrave, seemed like the right choice. It was crisp, fruity and highly carbonated. A kissing cousin of champagne.

After a year or so in Pennsylvania oak, we hand-corked a few bottles to test the concept.

“Those first couple bottles turned out great,” says John, “so we went ahead and did the whole batch.”

But you know how the best-laid plans go. The yeast didn’t do its thing, and we were stuck with a pallet of unfermented beer.

“We decided to cut our losses,” says John. “We threw it up on a rack and forgot about it.”

A year went past, maybe more. Someone stumbled across the pallet and popped open a bottle. Wow. It had carbonated. And it was awesome. We’d struck gold.

“That first batch was kind of a fluke,” says John. “We were afraid it was going to be totally flat. But it worked out. Picture LaGrave – a little pear, a little apricot, champagne-like carbonation, then add a little toasted coconut, a touch of vanilla. Not super-sour, but a nice undertone of hay.”

We called it Splinter Gold, and you could say that was the first step in the crooked path that’s led to our Splinter Cellar project. One of the cellar’s three foeders, now under construction in Italy, will be all Splinter Gold all the time.

So for this Sunday’s #DrinkItNow Day (hat tip to Allagash), we raided John’s beer cellar. We found one more bottle of Weyerbacher’s raspberry sour, a Scratch #3 from 2007, and a couple of Splinter Golds. Sounds like the perfect lineup to reflect on where we’ve been and dream about where we’re going. #drinkitnow