Friday, September 17, 2010

I think I might be crazy...

Last Thursday, I found out that Troegs was doing a release of a special beer, Splinter Blue, and over the next couple of days convinced myself that leaving at 5:30am to drive for 2 hours and sit in line for 2 and a half hours was a good idea.  I'm not sure why I thought this was a good idea, but my mind works in mysterious ways aka I'm crazy.  Probably didn't help that my wife encouraged me to do it or that my buddy thought I was trying to convince him and decided he was going to come along.  Yes, let's blame others for my insanity.  Good idea.

So yesterday I woke up at 5am, got a few things together (my Troegs growler, a cooler, cookies, all the essentials) and headed to King of Prussia to meet up with my buddy.  Once there we set off for the brewery at about 6am.  Let me say, driving before the sun comes up is crazy.  Never do it.
At 7:30 we arrived at the brewery.  Now, here comes the part where I reference the fact that this is a special release beer.  Troegs only had about 400 bottles of it and, for now, isn't ever going to make it again any time soon.  Then realize that beer people who know about stuff like this are also psychotic (more psychotic than me if you can believe that).  As a result, you end up with a line like this at 7:30am, two and a half hours before the brewery was even going to let people in.
It's sort of hard to tell just how long that line is, but let me try to explain.  In the middle right on the wall, there's a gray spot and that's the entrance to the shop.  The line wrapped once around some pallets, then went the length of the wall up until it reached a Troeg's van.  That's about where we ended up.  So, at 7:30am, there were already around 100-125 people in line.  Really crazy.  Lots of people brought chairs and a number of people were already drinking beers.  The chairs were a great idea as my friend and I ended up standing around from 7:30 to almost 10:15 before the line ever moved.  Definitely going to remember that if I do this again.

By 8:30 the line looked like this:
By 9, this:
As we discovered later, the line reached 200 people right around 8:45 or 9am, an hour before the brewery was even going to open their doors.  In the above picture, you can see a truck in the distance and that's about where I ended up when I arrived and where the line started wrapping around again.  At about 10:30, one of the owners of the brewery, John Trogner, came out with some Troegs bottle caps and starting handing them out, one bottle cap per beer.  He wanted to let people know if they would get a bottle of Splinter Blue so they could know if they should continue standing in line.  Pretty cool of them to save people some effort since if they hadn't turned those people away, they may still have spent some money at the brewery even though they would have been disappointed about wasting their time.  They also bought donuts for every one in line which was also cool.  I'll say that although waiting in line was endless, everyone at the brewery was really nice and willing to talk to everyone

Finally, at 11:45 we got our two bottles of Splinter Blue and the long, long wait was over.  At this point, we settled down to a pint from their firkins (basically just a name of a smallish keg that contains uncarbonated beer, similar to a cask).
There was no head or any bubbles in the two beers because they came from the firkins.  The left was their Pale Ale to which they added fresh Citra Hops and the right was their Java Head with vanilla beans.  For the latter they just threw the vanilla beans right into the firkin.  The Java Head was pretty damn good.  The vanilla flavor grew and grew as I drank it and blended really well with the coffee flavor of the Java Head.  The Pale Ale was also good as the hops flavors were very smooth with no lasting bitterness or anything.  Honestly, though, anything would have tasted good after standing in line for 4 hours and 15 minutes.

After that we went to lunch to let the crowds die down in the brewery and came back after about an hour and a half so I could fill my growler and pick up a couple bottles of some other stuff since it was pretty cheap.  How could I not buy it!  In the end this is the collection I ended up with after my day of beer at the Troegs brewery in Harrisburg.
Do I think it was worth it?  Yeah pretty much.  It was a lot of driving in one day but I got to chat with people who love beer and know quite a bit about it, I got to chat with one of the brewers at Troegs for quite a while (his name was Jeff, skinny guy, if you ever go there) and I got 2 out of about 400 total bottles of Splinter Blue.  It was just a great experience and good way to spend a day. 

Would I go again for the next release of their Splinter series?  That's a tougher question and I'm honestly not sure at this point.


  1. Wow, way to go, Rich! If you're going to be a successful beer blogger, you have to that kind of dedication. These are the kind of crazy things we expect.

    How was the Splinter? What was that like?

  2. Well the problem with this kind of thing is deciding when to drink it because I only have 2 and I'll never get a 3rd. So, I have no idea what it's like and won't know for a while probably. =)