Our priority is buying the best ingredients in the world. A lot of times that means we’re pointed toward Germany for grain or the Pacific Northwest for hops. But sometimes, because we live and brew in fertile central Pennsylvania, we find what we’re looking for right in our backyard. For our IPA Field Study and double IPA LolliHop, we used nearly 100,000 pounds of two-row barley grown by third-generation farmers Dustin and Cody Musser of Mount Joy, Pa.
We started sourcing local honey for holiday favorite Mad Elf back in 2002, and we still get all the honey we can from the same supplier in Carlisle, PA, about 30 miles south of the brewery. We’re now buying 25,000 pounds of local honey from The Happy Beekeeper who works with small local beekeepers to source his honey.
About 30 miles south of the brewery is the Pennsylvania Fruit Belt, 20,000 fertile acres covering the slopes of South Mountain. The soils are deep, well-drained and gravelly, and it’s one of the finest fruit-producing regions in the United States. So whenever we can, we get cherries, peaches, nectarines and other fruit for our Splinter Beers from the orchards down there. “When we’re coming up with recipes, the first thing we look at is what’s grown in our backyard and from our personal knowledge,” brewmaster John Trogner says. “We’ve eaten these things all our lives. We’ve gone to local farmers markets and picked up this fruit from when we were kids all the way to now. When we talk recipes, we want to talk things familiar to us.”
In fact, a while back, the owner of Peters Orchards – just a few miles south of the brewery told us about a hailstorm that bruised a whole crop of nectarines. The peaches wouldn’t be attractive for Peters to sell, but the scarring didn’t bother us one bit, so we took them. That helped Peters get a good price for his bruised nectarines and helped us brew Dear Peter, a bracing sour with big notes of fresh-off-the-tree nectarines.
Local PA long-neck pumpkins for Master of Pumpkins, which we first brewed in 2013, planted and grown just for us at Strite’s Orchard, less than 10 miles from the brewery. We bring in about 3,000 pounds after harvest, and our kitchen team cleans and roasts the whole lot before handing them off to our brewers.
We bake our own bread here at Tröegs. We ferment local vegetables. We dry and cure meats. Everything we can do here, we do here. And when we need a hand, we turn to Pennsylvania farmers, makers and friends we trust. For example, much of the produce we serve in our Snack Bar is built around what’s coming out of the ground at Little Peace Farm in Schuylkill Haven. “We look at seed books with the folks at Little Peace and map out the entire year,” says brewmaster John Trogner. “They’re a small, family-run farm with great classic crop rotation. Lots of heirloom varieties. It’s nice to be working so closely with them.”