When you’re driving up to Tröegs in Hershey, you might have noticed a handful of tanks peeking up from behind the building. Those eight fermenters are where — thanks to the wonders of science — beer becomes beer, and we’re adding a few more.

The eight additional 1,000-barrel fermenters that are arriving in early August will give our small-batch Scratch and Splinter programs room to roam. Last year, we brewed more than 100 new Scratch recipes to serve in our Tasting Room, and for the first time we started getting bottles of our wood-aged Splinter beers beyond our walls. Now, we’ll be able to ramp up both of those programs.

“We’ve been under construction for 20 years,” says brewmaster and founding brother John Trogner. “And this is the next step in our strong, steady growth. These new fermenters will free up a bunch of our smaller tanks, and that’ll give us the flexibility to meet the demands of core beers that are growing – beers like Perpetual IPA and Troegenator – and to dive deeper into creative brewing pursuits like Scratch and Splinter.”

The hardware

Each of the 50-foot stainless steel and aluminum tanks holds up to 1,000 barrels of beer. That’s 31,000 gallons — or 248,000 pints — of beer.

The tanks, tailor-made by German manufacturer Ziemann Holvrieka, are where fermentation takes place. After the “hot side” of brewing, where our brewers make the sweet, malty beer starter called wort, the tanks will be home to the “cold side,” where yeast eats the sugars of the wort, converting them into alcohol and carbon dioxide and creating beer as we know (and love) it.

“We think Ziemann makes the best fermenters in the world,” says John. “We’ve bought fermenters from them before, and we know how they work, we know how they ferment, we know how they clean. Once we find something that works, we like to stick with it.”

After fermentation, our beers go through a centrifuge to spin out yeast and other solids, and to accommodate gradual increases in production, we’re also adding an Alfa Laval 701 centrifuge that has five to 10 times the capacity of our current centrifuge.

Growing deeper in our backyard

Thanks to the success of beers like Perpetual IPA (up 26% this year), Troegenator Double Bock (up 10%), Nimble Giant Double IPA and our Hop Cycle seasonals, Troegs is enjoying double-digit growth in 2017. For the first time in our 20-year history, we’ll be looking to crack the 100,000-barrel production mark.

We’re aiming to have the new fermenters up and running by December, and over the next five to 10 years, expect them to help us continue our steady growth. That will give us the ability to consider new markets, but as of now, any increased capacity will help support growth in our current markets: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, Delaware, North Carolina, Ohio, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

“Staying 100% independent allows us to make decisions that are best for our long-term health,” says John. “For 20 years, we’ve grown steadily in our backyard, and that’s always where we look first. We want to go deeper in our own territories, not necessarily wider in other territories.”

Scratch beers

So, what does all this mean for our beer? More Scratch and Splinter beers, that’s what.

The Scratch Series, our launching point for new beers since 2007, is closing in on 300 different recipes, and we have no plans to slow down.

Right now, we have several available, including Scratch #290, an Apple Farmhouse Ale brewed with bushels of Winchester and Rome apples pressed by our friends at Big Hill Ciderworks, and Scratch #299, an open-fermented weizenbock that’s a big brother to DreamWeaver Wheat.

We typically release one to three new Scratch beers a week, and no two recipes are the same. We’re constantly trying new ingredients, testing techniques, tweaking recipes and gathering your feedback.

“It’s our pilot system, our research and development system,” says Tröegs brother Chris Trogner. “We have something new almost every week, so when people come into the Tasting Room, they can try something different.”

 Some Scratch beers are one-hit wonders, and others take a winding, delicious path to production. Beers like Perpetual, Nimble Giant, First Cut Mango IPA and Crimson Pistil Hibiscus IPA are all Scratch graduates.

Splinter beers

The fermenters also will help us amplify our wood-aged Splinter Series, which includes Freaky Peach, Wild Elf, Bourbon Barrel-aged Troegenator and others.

We also have new Splinter beers on the horizon. This fall, we’ll be releasing Dear Peter, a bracing sour brewed with nectarines from Peters Orchard in Adams County, the fruit belt of Pennsylvania.

Last summer, a hailstorm flashed through Peters Orchard, damaging their nectarines and rendering them unfit for market. But nectarines that don’t work at a farmstand are aces for brewing, so we bought them up and added them to a beer we made with local rye from Deer Creek Malthouse.

“They left the nectarines on the tree to over-ripen so they’d be really juicy and sweet,” says John. “Then we drove out to the orchard, picked up 5,000 pounds and trucked them back here. We rounded up any and all co-workers who were available to slice and pit the nectarines, then tossed the fruit into a fermenter. The wild bacteria took off and it’s crazy sour.”

Thank you

Several local contractors are being used for the installation of the new fermenters. Special thanks go to general contractor Pyramid Construction, architects Maule & Associates and M&T Bank for the continued support.

About Tröegs

Founded in Pennsylvania in 1996 by brothers John and Chris Trogner, Tröegs Independent Brewing is driven by a sense of adventure and curiosity. From the beginning, our brewery has been built by family, friends and kindred spirits who share a love of great beer.

 “We’re not an English ale brewery,” says co-founder Chris Trogner. “And we’re not a German lager brewery. We take bits and pieces from each one of those traditions and try to come up with what we think is a very creative and great-tasting beer.”

Troegs is widely known for award-winning beers like Perpetual IPA, Troegenator, Nugget Nectar and Mad Elf, as well as our experimental Scratch Series, wood-aged Splinter Series and Hop Cycle Seasonals. The annual Art of Troegs contest showcases our love of art by challenging fans to reuse packaging in an original work.

“We’re drawn to people with a sense of adventure,” says co-founder John Trogner. “And we think they’re drawn to Troegs.”