From the Bar: Spotlight on Troegs

At Venture Cafe, our guests have expressed great enthusiasm for our bottles of Troegs Dreamweaver Wheat. This week, we feature this excellent brew on tap. While not local to Massachusetts, Troegs is native to the East Coast, and its menu offers many tasty options.

Two brothers from Mechanicsburg, PA, Chris and John Trogner, founded Troegs in 1997. Before opening their brewery, Chris and John learned simultaneously about beer while living apart: Chris in Boulder, CO and John in Philadelphia, PA. The two brothers kept in touch, and in their cross-country conversations, an idea of starting a business together developed into a complete business plan. John moved to Boulder, and learned all about the brewing process in practice at Oasis Brewpub, and in theory in university-level brewing classes. Chris, meanwhile, learned about the business side of brewing through marketing, sales and management classes.

Once the brothers completed their education, they decided to return to Pennsylvania to build their brewery. Chris and John named their brewery Troegs, defined as “an aura of complete enjoyment and contentment.” Interestingly, the brothers assert that the word may also be used as a verb, i.e., “I troeged it.” They now produce nine different beers and distribute them up and down the East Coast.

Dreamweaver Wheat combines four wheat types with noble Saaz hops, and Munich and Pils malts. The brew incorporates a yeast strain that adds a spicy, peppery, clove taste, with a hint of bananas. Troegs boasts that “Dreamweaver Wheat is an unfiltered blast of spicy, mouthwatering joy.”

We hope you enjoy Dreamweaver, along with our other offerings, and we always love to hear what your favorite local beers are!

– Amy, VenCaf Bar Manager

From the Bar: What’s on Tap This Week? The Aloha Spirit!

Although we usually strive to feature local beers on our taps, we depart from that tradition with one selection this week. We offer three reasons for this momentous decision. First, with recent improvements, our mobile bar now boasts FOUR, not a measly two, taps (we hope! testing happens Thursday morning). Second, the brewing company did serve as the local brewer once upon a time for Venture Cafe Manager Carrie. Third, and most important, the brewers care about sustainability and philanthropy, and they demonstrate their devotion actively through their practice and process.

This eco-conscious brewery, founded by a father-son team, is called Kona Brewing Company. The Company champions recycling, builds its facilities with recycled materials, and uses disposable cups and biodegradable to-go containers in its business. A heat reclamation system for the air conditioner heats water for the kitchen. Condensation from the air conditioner is used to irrigate the brewery’s landscape. Spent grain from the brewing process is sent to local cattle farmers, and incorporated into the brewpub’s pizza dough. Additionally, the brewery sponsors numerous fundraising campaigns for environmental, educational, athletic, and cultural community organizations.

This green-minded brew now gushing from our new tap is called Wailua Wheat. All beer from Kona Brewing Company incorporates Kona’s hops, malt, proprietary yeast, and of course Hawaiian water. Wailua Wheat is a golden ale, with a bright, citrusy flavor, courtesy of tropical passion fruit brewed into each batch. The website suggests pairing this beer with lighter fare like seafood, salads, or even vanilla ice cream! Let us know what you think.

Ask the Bartender: What’s so India about India Pale Ale?

Due to the popularity of the Cisco Whale’s Tale on tap and Harpoon’s and Long Trail’s India Pale Ales (IPA) in bottles last week, I orderd a keg of Cisco “Indie Pale Ale” to serve this Thursday at Venture Cafe.  Last Thursday, a few Indian entrepreneurs expressed their surprise at the name “India” Pale Ale, because India is not known for its beer, or any alcoholic beverages for that matter.  Thus, to prepare for my tap duties this Thursday, I’ve researched the history of this style of beer to discover how it came to be associated with India.

If you read my last blog, it should come as no surprise that as an ale, the IPA originated in Britain.  The birth of the Pale Ale took place at the turn of the 19th Century, when brewmasters discovered more efficient and controllable methods of kilning malt.  They produced a lighter-colored malt that resulted in a higher level of enzymes, which in turn converted more of the malt starches into fermentable sugars.  The problem with this new Pale Ale was that it did not survive long shipping distances, which were becoming more common as Britain sent its first Governor to India and increased trade in the late 1800s.

George Hodgson, an enterprising brewer at the Bow Brewery in East London, solved the problem and began shipping Hodgson’s India Ale during the 1790s.  To create a more stable Pale Ale, Hodgson and later British IPA brewmasters increased the amount of hops they added to the beer, taking advantage of the natural preservative created by the acids in hops.    Alternatively, they added yeast to reduce the amount of soluble sugar in the brew, decreasing the possibility that micro-organisms attracted by sugar would spoil the beer on its long journey to India.  These methods produced a lighter-colored, dry and bitter beer, with higher alcohol content compared to its ale cousins.  IPA served solely as an export until 1827, when a British ship leaving London crashed and auctioned off its store of IPA.

Since then, creative brewmasters have produced many variations on the IPA.  The British buyers of the shipwrecked beer clearly enjoyed the new brew, but later versions proved to be less hoppy and alcoholic than the original.  American IPAs continue to be dry-hopped like their English ancestors (an extra dose of hops is added to the beer after fermentation), but incorporate American hops, which tend to be much more flavorful with fruity, floral and citrus character.  See what you think of the Cisco IPA this week!

For more information, check out these links:

Ask the Bartender: Ale vs. Lager

Your deepest and darkest questions about alcoholic beverages: Answered.

The past two weeks at Venture Cafe, our taps featured Cisco Whale’s Tale Pale Ale, an English Ale, and Cape Ann’s Fisherman’s Brew, an American Lager. Guests noticed that the brews poured the same amber color, and they tasted similar enough that many asked me about the differences between an ale and a lager. Dutifully, I performed diligent research into the depths of (basic) beer knowledge to find the answer.

The ale originated in Britain, where craftsmen brewed the beer at room temperature, between 64 and 70 degrees. The top-fermenting yeasts that successfully ferment the brew at room temperature break down the sugars from the malts into elevated ester compounds, which give ales their characteristic fruity, complex taste. Additionally , the Brits added more hops and malt than their German brothers, which give the ale its more bitter and nutty taste.

Those German craftsmen, on the other hand, preferred their beer crisp and cool, so they fermented it in cool Bavarian caves, between 52 and 58 degrees. The bottom-fermenting yeasts that work under these cooler conditions produce fewer esters, but also produce elevated sulfur compounds that require cold storage (“lagering”) before becoming appropriately integrated into the beer. The Germans could reuse the yeast to ferment a new batch, so lagers tended to be more economical beers than ales.

So there you have it: the short version of the story, at least!

For more information, check out these sources:
Clipper City Beer Blog