Why Troegs Was Positioned Properly at Start of Pandemic to Grow

Last year was a crazy year for craft beer and the numbers show that being a larger company was painful to production output. Yet Troegs saw 7% growth from 2019 to 2020 with an additional 7,000 barrels produced, up to more than 112,000 barrels for the Pennsylvania-based company.

Chris Trogner quickly knocked on the wooden table he sat at when that was brought up to him in the recent cover story interview Brewer (the September/October print issue out soon) did with him and his fellow founding brother John.

There were several factors, he said. The biggest was that being in retail and in large format helped the company immensely.

​”​What we thought we saw was both our wholesale partners and our biggest fans kind of reverted back to our core beers​,” Chris said. ​”​We didn’t necessarily push those​,​ but in a matter of weeks really we could see things shifting.​”

​The biggest core brands that saw movement ​were Perpetual​ IPA 12-pack cans and Troegenator ​Doppelbock.

“All of a sudden it just took off at retail, grocery stores, and beer distributors​,” Chris said. ​”Looking back on it, in hindsight, we were actually positioned pretty well leading into it.​”

​​Troegs had just come off of ​its seasonal of ​Nugget Nectar​,​ a huge, once-a-year release​ for the brand.

​”We had a lot of really great displays at grocery stores. So we were positioned well, and when ​the ​lockdown hit, nobody could merchandise​,” Chris said. ​”People just reloaded and reloaded. We certainly had benefited from that indirectly and not knowing that at the beginning, but then once we started to get that communication from our wholesalers, we quickly jumped our team and shifted our production away from kegs and all of those pack types and just tried to keep everything supplied.

​”That was really it, just trying to keep the brewery open​. Keep it safe, keep everybody supplied.​”

Although in Pennsylvania​, the brewery​ fared well. It’s ​was ​not the case in all the markets​, Chris noted.​

​Ultimately, ​John said the true success came from the production side.

​”We had a team​ — ​a handful of people that were managing the supply chain of raw materials coming in​. We had fantastic partners that kept us supplied because that could have gone really wrong, real quick​,” he said. ​

But also, the production team took pretty aggressive measures to separate all the teams​ to avoid any sort of sickness incident.

​”We didn’t know what the pandemic meant​,” John said. ​”​We had friends in Italy and Germany that were getting hit hard, seeing them locked down and talking to them about what was going on.

“So the brewery team didn’t talk to the packaging team, they weren’t even in the same room. We’re a three-shift operation. ​The first shift had to leave the building before the second shift could come in. And the third shift​ had the same, and so on, so forth. So we took all these safety measures, which worked to keep people safe, but also that kept everything running.​ ​​We turn​ed down the ​kegging, basically, ​we turned​ it off, ​and turned​ up the bottling ​and can line​s​. And as long as your materials ​were flowing, you can brew​,​ ferment, and package.”

So because the production team​ and​ their safety measures ​while pivoting to keep everything running​, it ​supplied the beer that then surged​ through the ​”​pantry stocking​”​ ​of consumers ​and past the pantry stocking phase​ to see Troegs’ 2020 production numbers rise.​

Photo courtesy Troegs Independent Brewing

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