Beer Review: Scratch 400 Pre-Prohibition Lager (Troegs Independent Brewing)

Beer Review: Scratch 400 Pre-Prohibition Lager (Troegs Independent Brewing)

Troegs Independent Brewing’s 400th scratch beer. Released on January 16th, Prohibition Day.

This is a monumental beer, and a monumental achievement, and it was released on a monumental day. This is Troegs Independent Brewing’s 400th scratch beer on their scratch system. Not their 400th beer released in total, just their 400th scratch. A very significant feat, and given the improvements they’ve made to their scratch system (and upgrades in general to their brewery) I don’t think it’ll take us long at all to get to Scratch 500. I know I personally can’t wait.

Just like I’m finally publishing this article on a significant date (2.2.20, palindrome day, Groundhog’s Day, Super Bowl LIV Sunday), this beer was released on a significant date – January 16th (2020). January 16th is known as “Prohibition Day”.

Let’s take a quick look at the history of it, from our favorite historical perspective news source – Wikipedia:

In the United States, after the battle against slavery was won (and even prior to it with the 1851 Maine law), social moralists turned to other issues, such as Mormon polygamy and the temperance movement.[11][12][13]

On November 18, 1918, prior to ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment, the U.S. Congress passed the temporary Wartime Prohibition Act, which banned the sale of alcoholic beverages having an alcohol content of greater than 1.28%.[14] (This act, which had been intended to save grain for the war effort, was passed after the armistice ending World War I was signed on November 11, 1918.) The Wartime Prohibition Act took effect June 30, 1919, with July 1, 1919 becoming known as the “Thirsty-First”.[15][16]

The U.S. Senate proposed the Eighteenth Amendment on December 18, 1917. Upon being approved by a 36th state on January 16, 1919, the amendment was ratified as a part of the Constitution. By the terms of the amendment, the country went dry one year later, on January 17, 1920.[17][18]

On October 28, 1919, Congress passed the Volstead Act, the popular name for the National Prohibition Act, over President Woodrow Wilson‘s veto. The act established the legal definition of intoxicating liquors as well as penalties for producing them.[19] Although the Volstead Act prohibited the sale of alcohol, the federal government lacked resources to enforce it.

Prohibition was successful in reducing the amount of liquor consumed, cirrhosis death rates, admissions to state mental hospitals for alcoholic psychosis, arrests for public drunkenness, and rates of absenteeism.[5][20][21] While some allege that Prohibition stimulated the proliferation of rampant underground, organized and widespread criminal activity,[22] two academics maintain that there was no increase in crime during the Prohibition era and that such claims are “rooted in the impressionistic rather than the factual.”[23][24] By 1925, there were anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs in New York City alone.[25] Wet opposition talked of personal liberty, new tax revenues from legal beer and liquor, and the scourge of organized crime.[26]

On March 22, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Cullen–Harrison Act, legalizing beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% (by weight) and wine of a similarly low alcohol content. On December 5, 1933, ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment. However, United States federal law still prohibits the manufacture of distilled spirits without meeting numerous licensing requirements that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal beverage use.[27]

Source: Prohibition in the United States (Wikipedia)

And thank goodness that madness has ended. Not going to go into the politics of it all and not really going to discuss the politics of the time (or now) as I like to keep this blog readable for all. But I think everyone reading this blog can agree on this one thing – Prohibition was a bad idea.

So thankfully that horrific time is over, and thankfully its now 2020, and we can enjoy fantastic and wonderful beers like this Scratch 400 from Troegs. (See how I segued that? Like a champ!) And this really is a wonderful and tasty brew from Troegs, regardless of the significance behind the numeration. If this was Scratch 1, 400, 69, or 285, it wouldn’t matter, it’d still be a great drink.

I started this article up on the night of January 16th after my date night with my youngest (six at the time, just now turned seven the other day). But this was written during the blog’s getting ready for the Mellow Mink article going live, and so I pushed it back, and figured today’s important numerical (2.02.20 – palindrome day!) significance would be a more meaningful time to publish this. (I wrote the beer review then, everything else being written now.)

So, February 2nd, 2020, Groundhog’s day seems like a very appropriate time to be posting this article. And heres another segue – I wouldn’t mind if this was the beer I was drinking if I had to be stuck on a time loop on Groundhog’s Day.

So, in honor of Punxsutawney Phil lets move on and review this beer!

Scratch 400 by Troegs. Mara approved! (And no, she didn’t drink any. She does approve of the fries though, and the water.)

Beer: Scratch 400 – Pre-Prohibition Lager
Brewery: Troegs Independent Brewing
Style: Lager – American
ABV: 4.3%
IBU: None listed
Untappd Write-Up: For our 400th Scratch beer, we’re turning back the clock for a pre-Prohibition lager, and we pulled a few extra levers to let our house lager yeast shine. For starters, we included blue corn grown in Imler, Pa., in the malt bill. Blue corn, floury and high in protein, lowers the free amino nitrogen in the wort, which elevates the esters of the yeast. We also open fermented this beer, an old-world technique we use for every batch of DreamWeaver Wheat. This also helps to bring out the yeast flavor. A session Troegenator? We like the sound of that. We taste: notes of corn, dried stone fruit, and subtle caramel and nuttiness.

A session Troegenator might be a great way to describe this. Far lighter, thinner, definitely lower ABV (only 4.3% !) and certainly less heavy then Troegenator. But that doesn’t take away anything from this beer though either.

Appearance is a beautiful chestnut, light brown, clearish hue. This is finely filtered, there’s no particles, no sediment, no haze, no dankness, nothing opaque, just a nice fine, well crafted, well brewed lager. Its not completely see through, but it has definite clarity and is somewhat transparent. It has a fine head with diverse bubbles, and the head retention is strong, it also leaves beautiful lacing on the tall boy glass that Troegs serves this gorgeous beer in.

Aroma is wheat and corn heavy. You get almost an acorn smell, a very heavy farm field to it (in a good way, not in a knee-deep in ‘cow patties’ kind of farm field smell). A nice rainy day aroma where you can smell the wheat, barley, grass growing. Something only a ‘good ol’ local boy’ might be able to rightly describe to you, and even then it wouldn’t be precise. This is a more subtle beer smell then some of those big macro Lagers that just have that stale, old, unwanted beer smell. The smell most of us grew up on smelling off grandpa’s breath at the family reunions and parties. Whereas this smells homely, crafted, and far better.

This is what Yuengling should pretty much be. An old fashion style, old fashion created, and old fashion lager. Germanic pride in the glass right here. Its malty, its corny, it has a bit of a nutty taste, its kind of heavy on the palate but also a bit thinner then say the Troegenator, it does still have a full body to it, and despite its only 4.3% ABV its still a hearty beer. It does have an ending sweetness to it, nothing cloying, but a fine stickyness that hangs to your palate and tongue. Nothing in a bad way about that, it just provides a nice ending sweetness. The open fermentation, the house yeast strain, and the PA home grown blue corn, definitely gives this a flavor all to its own. A uniqueness to it thats not going to be reproduced outside of using these exact means. I get notes of acorn, corn, nuttyness, malt, some sweetness from caramel malts, maybe kind of a plum like note to it, wrapping up all very nicely. This is a fine tasting brew I wouldn’t mind them possibly tweaking a bit, or keeping even as is, and releasing yearly on January 16th (or approximate) as a small seasonal run. It would most likely do well, and could have a catchy name like “Prohibition Lager” or “America’s Lager” or “Before The World Went Crazy Lager”. Eh, who knows about good names, actually, you know who does? Ffej, with his Fuzzy Nudge. Now thats how you name a beer! Either way, what I *DO KNOW* is that this is a fine tasting beer, that won’t last much longer at Troegs, and was a very significant beer for them, and for all of us fans of Troegs and fans in the Central PA area. So make sure you stop by Troegs brewery, drink up, and enjoy before its gone!

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 3.82 (as of 1.17.20)
Updated Global Untappd Rating: 3.83 (as of 2.2.20)

To read up even more on Scratch 400, you can check out Derek Markel’s excellent article over at ItsABrewLife: Troegs Scratch #400 & Beyond. ItsABrewLife is a wonderful blog written by Derek and Chelsea Markel. They are wonderful writers and a great influence on the scene in Central PA. She’s one of the co-founders of Harrisburg Beer Week, and he is an accomplished homebrewer who makes some delicious beers. So definitely pop over there and read this excellent article.

Here at the blog, we’ve been super busy as always. I’ve been writing nonstop it seems in the last few days. Beer reviews for This Is The Way by Broken Goblet, my series of Tree House beers – Sap, Autumn, Haze, Julius, and Doppelganger. Our beer review of Scarlet Sunrise by Mellow Mink, as well as our visit to Mellow Mink. The sad news of Crystal Ball’s Closing in York PA. Beer review of Hill Farmstead’s Florence. Also been doing several podcasts, LOST Seasons 1 and 2, LOST Seasons 3 and 4, Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian, and possibly soon one on the final season of BoJack Horseman. We also have much more content coming out, more beer reviews, visits to breweries, openings, an article on Liquid Noise opening in Marysville PA, an article on the progress of Rubber Soul opening in Hummelstown PA, and much more. So please be on the lookout for all of that great content. Click the follow here. Use the RSS feed to follow us or enter your e-mail, or if you already have a WordPress account, you can sign right up with that (probably the easiest way to get our blog).

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Also, if you ever check out FeedSpot’s Top 100 Beer Blogs, you’ll see we are currently sitting in the #9 position now since January 15th. (Previously we were #11). We are super proud to be in the Top 10. (Especially since #3 and #4 are the same link, so I guess that sort of, pseudo, technically, maybe, makes us really #8… I dunno.) So give that a click, and then click on us coming back, show them how much you love us!

As you can see in the pictures here, this was my daddy-daughter date night with my youngest. She absolutely loves Troegs. She loves the smell of the brewery (as does my ten year old) as soon as we get in. I picked her up from an after-school function. Took her to the Hershey Library, she picked out two books, and then we had dinner at Troegs. We read her books, she devoured her fries (which, by the way, Troegs has some of the absolute best fries ever) and I enjoyed Scratches 399 and 400. Both were fantastic beers, and Mara had a great night. The laid back atmosphere of Troegs is a nice family-friendly place, that all three of my daughters love coming to. If you are ever in the area, and never been here, I highly recommend it. Yes it gets pretty full in the summer time and with lots of kids from the park, but its still worth at least a one time visit.

Scratch 399 (left) and Scratch 400 (right) at Troegs Brewery

And as always, we greatly appreciate all of you, our fine readers. Thank you so much for stopping in, checking us out, and giving us a read. We hope you liked what you read and choose to stick around and check out our other articles. We have tons of stuff here on the blog, from beer reviews, to home brewing stuff with Default Brewing, to some guest writing from LetUsDrinkBeer’s blog and their contributions, to brewery reviews, beer events, even some book reviews, and much more.

Final note, tonight’s the Super Bowl, or technically as everyone who isn’t the NFL has to call it “The Big Game”. San Fransisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs. It should be a good game. I am going against the grain, and thinking it’ll be low scoring, and I’m predicting San Fran 21 to Kansas City’s 10.

So you heard that here folks, that as of 9:42AM, I, B. Kline, predict this as your Super Bowl LIV Final Score:

San Fransisco 49ers: 21
Kansas City Chiefs: 10

Leave your thoughts, comments, score predictions, and other esoteric antics (call back to the podcast!) in the comments section. Love to hear from you all. We greatly appreciate all the feedback we get. It means so much to us! Cheers, and thank goodness that ground hog saw no shadow! Spring is clearly on its way, rodent meteorology for the win!

-B. Kline

Scratch Number 400

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