- Chris and John Trogner’s innovation will allow them to experiment with new packaging and beer styles at Tröegs, the home of Perpetual, the state’s best-selling IPA.
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Thousands of beer cans stand at attention along a towering ramp, waiting for a taste of Perpetual IPA, as Tröegs brewery founding brothers John and Chris Trogner navigate a catwalk through their new canning line.
The 400-can-per-minute system is the latest innovation in the brothers’ 26-year brewing adventure.
“The new canning line really just sets us up for success in the future,” says Chris. “It’s more planning for where we think things are going.”
Late to the game?
In 1997, the brothers, then in their early 20s, embarked on a quest to bring their love of craft beer to the masses. Armed with a few years of combined experience in Colorado breweries and a whole lot of determination, John and Chris set up shop in a small warehouse in Harrisburg.
From those humble beginnings, Tröegs Independent Brewing was born. In 2011, the operation expanded with a move to its current production facility and taphouse in Hershey.
Before their 1997 launch, Chris feared that the craft brewery market was too crowded for them to be successful. There were 26 craft breweries in Pennsylvania.
“We were kind of wondering if we were kind of late to the game,” Chris says.
The number of breweries has grown to over 500, but Tröegs has grown as well, producing 100,000 barrels of beer every year. The Tröegs team has about 250 employees, and its beers are distributed throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
With their dedication to quality ingredients and innovative brewing techniques, the Trogner brothers quickly gained a loyal following among beer lovers across the state. Today, Tröegs is a household name in the craft beer world, and John and Chris are celebrated as pioneers in the industry.
Innovation in the building blocks
From the start, the brothers were obsessed with understanding the “why” behind the flavors and essence of their brews.
“Chris and I are both brewers at heart — and tinkerers,” says John. “We like to figure stuff out. So everything’s driven through the eyes of a brewer or the eyes of someone that wants to make — in this case — delicious beer.”
Innovation is important not just in their beers but in their team. Finding employees who understand and fit in with the company culture and its core values is a key ingredient for Chris and John. They reinforce those ideals among their workers.
“We try to foster it through collaborative work environments,” John says. “Basically, you put the right brains in a room and have them go after a subject of some kind and come out with the best way to win, the way to reach that whole goal, whatever it may be. And make sure the people in the room know that they’re there for a reason.”
Building a quality team has allowed the brothers, who serve as president and vice president of the company, the freedom to focus on what they love to do.
Looking to the future
Rather than broadening their reach through the canning expansion, the brothers are focused on sending their roots deeper into the Pennsylvania soil, literally. They’ve begun sourcing Pennsylvania-grown and malted grains from local farmers. They’ve always used local honey for their signature holiday beer The Mad Elf and locally sourced ingredients for the taproom’s snack bar.
The new canning line will give the brothers the flexibility to experiment with new packaging and styles of beer, including 19.2-ounce cans, which they haven’t been able to distribute. Through their new canning line, Chris and John look forward to continuing to foster and expand the innovative mindset they unleashed 26 years ago.
“If you can dream something up and come up with something creative, and then actually put it together and make it come to fruition and see it when it’s done, and then share it with our community, it’s really fulfilling,” says John. “We’re hoping to continue on that path.”