HERSHEY, Pa. — It's estimated that by next year, there will be more than ten thousand breweries in the United States.
And while Troegs in Hershey has won plenty of hardware for their liquid that fills glassware, it's not just award-winning beer that they're brewing.
"I actually started as a tour guide when I first came to Troegs," recalled Troegs Brewery Experience and Tour Supervisor Joh Kinkead. "I can't be happier, especially with the fact that we have the best brewer tour, three years in a row."
USA Today readers have voted that Troegs in Hershey has the Best Brewery Tour, not just in the state, but the entire county, for the third straight year.
"I knew a lot about the brewing process from germination to fermentation, the different yeast strains, bacterial fermentation, and all that," said tour guide Zack Wilkinson. "So, for me, once we get past that door heading out of the art gallery, I can just go, no problem."
"We have nine different tour guides," adds Kinkead. "Each tour will be a different tour, without a doubt. Zack, his tour is going to be completely different from Vernon. We have a gentleman by the name of Art who's going to do a different tour than Bob. We have a gentleman who's a retired Colonel in the Army. He's 80 years old and is still doing tours to this day."
Other brewery tours may talk about ingredients and history, and while Troegs' tour does that, it's also one for the senses. As people walk through the brewery, they can see, hear, smell, feel, and of course taste what goes into making the beer that people have come to know and love.
"Some people just want the tour. They just want to have that. Some people aren't even beer drinkers. Some people do it for bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, microbiology students from the universities will come in and that's when I get to really nerd out on fermentation for a while," laughed Wilkinson. "They want to know all about that, We'll get those people and I absolutely love that one. And then we get home brewing groups and other breweries coming in."
Of course, having won the best brewery tour in the country, three times in a row, does set a standard.
"We were all like, 'Let's not screw this up. Let's not mess up, cause we want to win this award again. We don't want to be the new guys coming in and then we don't win the award that year.' And it means a lot because it kind of shows we're doing a good job and we know what we're doing," Wilkinson said.
But at the end of the day, Troegs knows that what they're bottling on these tours is the same as their product, something people connect with having a good time.
"We're just kind of a rag-tag group of people that are having fun," said Kinkead. "I mean, Troegs is about fun. We're making a product that people are going to drink and enjoy and that's what the tours are. I want to make sure the tour guides are having fun because if they're not, the people they're showing around are not going to have fun."