On the Beer Trail: Turbo Tasting at Tröegs in Hershey, PA
Editor's Note: Ethan Fixell tours the country as a comedian—and as a beer drinker. Can he sip a local beer in every state? Watch him try.
A few weeks back, my comedy partner Dave and I were lucky enough to attend a regional entertainer's conference in delicious Hershey, Pennsylvania. In celebration of a successful weekend during which many shows were booked, I inhaled one chocolate bar, several Kisses, and a cup of hot chocolate sweetened by powder, syrup, and whipped cream before checking out of the cocoa-themed Hershey lodge and nearly slipping into hyperglycemic shock.
Fighting symptoms of blurred vision, dry mouth, and erectile dysfunction on our way out of town, we passed a building that nearly stopped my breathing altogether.
"Holy crap—Tröegs is here!" I exclaimed from the passenger seat. "Pull over, pull over!"
Dave rolled his eyes like a patient but exasperated father as he turned towards the 90,000 square foot former warehouse, now an amusement park for beer lovers. Five thousand of the brewery's square feet are dedicated to a public space that looks more like an airplane hangar than a tasting room.
Dave—who needed to get back to New York City ASAP—would allow me twenty minutes to sample the goods while he did some outlet shopping down the road (I think he wanted a new pair of pants at Ann Taylor). Twenty minutes to power through seven beers and an order of hop-oiled French fries. Twenty minutes for a turbo tasting.
From light to dark, I made my way through the tray of five-ounce snifters. I nearly unhinged my jaw like a Looney Tunes character to take the first three down, scrawling furiously in my notebook about the Dreamweaver Wheat (brewed with Weihenstephaner yeast for hints of banana bread), Pale Ale (a simple and balanced nearly-sessionable classic), and HopBack Amber Ale (Tröegs' sweet, hoppy flagship, subtly tinged with caramel and rye).
The alcohol crept slowly into my increasingly sloppy notes as I sipped upon a Javahead Stout, a rich coffee-infused bruiser which won first place in my book.
By the time I had arrived at the Perpetual IPA, however, my tasting log—now seemingly beginning to melt off of the page—reflects that all I could discern were "hops." And Tröegs' highly hyped Nugget Nectar—an imperial amber oft described as the 'hopback on steroids'—I could perceive only as "an alcoholic beverage." Senses numbed by booze and bitter plant matter, I had learned that while touring across the country permits you to sip upon some of the finest craft beverages this fine nation has to offer, the benefits are capped when your traveling partner is a part-time teetotaler with limited time on his hands.
With 30 seconds to spare, I flopped back into the car clutching some leftover fries and a bottle of Flying Mouflan, a 22-ouncer of last year's barleywine that the well-informed bartender had recommended I take with me to go.
"Didja have fun, buddy?" asked Dave.
"Oh, did I," I mumbled as I closed my eyes, already beginning to doze off as Dave mentioned something about the fabulous Spanx sale at Dressbarn. Hershey's chocolate may have warmed (and nearly stopped) my inner child's heart, but Tröegs managed to put one giant, dopey smile on my adult face.
About the Author: Ethan Fixell is a writer and comedian from New York City best known as one half of comic "dating coach" duo Dave and Ethan. He is also the creator and editor of ActualConversation.com. For more on Ethan, visit EthanFixell.com.