#717Collab: The Story Behind The Beer

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Harrisburg Beer Week is on the horizon, and with it comes a new 717 Collaboration Beer.

717 collaboration beer

Each year, anticipation for the 717 Collab grows as eager imbibers begin speculating about what it will be months in advance.

While the 717 has always been a joint project between Harrisburg Beer Week and the participating breweries, this year’s staple brew made for something special.

From its inception to brew day, this year’s 717 collaborators, Zeroday Brewing Co., Appalachian Brewing Co., Tröegs Independent Brewing, and Boneshire Brew Works, along with the entire Harrisburg Beer Week team, worked hand-in-hand to create a beer that is unique to the greater Harrisburg area and its brewing DNA.

Over the six months of meetings, text messages, test batches, and a few headaches, the 717 Collab took shape and is now in fermenters waiting to be canned and kegged for the start of Harrisburg Beer Week 2019.

What is it?

This year’s 717 Collab is a Helles Bock, a style of lager.

Getting to this style didn’t happen by accident, and it wasn’t the first style that was proposed.

Initial ideas included styles like a barrel-aged beer or a light E.S.B., but nothing was hitting home with everyone in the room.

To bring a little more clarity to the project, John Trogner, Tröegs brewmaster, polled the team to help hone in on a style.

“When this got started last summer, we all went around the table and talked about styles, ingredients and techniques we were interested in,” said Trogner. “Classic styles of beer started to pop up in the conversation, and eventually we settled on a subtly complex lager.”

From there, the brewers got to work.

Testing 1, 2, 3, 4

Unlike past 717 Collabs, this year’s went through numerous test batches before it was ready for its official brew.

Each brewer set out to experiment with a specific approach to work out the final recipe and techniques. You may have even sampled one of these without knowing its roots.

“Zeroday did a dunkel with Augustiner yeast,” said Trogner. “ABC worked on a hop combination, and we brewed a Mexican Lager and a Golden Lager to dial in the malt bill.”

Once tapped, each batch was distributed to the collaborators, and tasting notes were shared through text messages and in-person meetings.

“That’s the web, the collaborative nature,” said Trogner. “That’s why this beer could only come from local breweries in the 717.”

The breweries pulled out, plugged in, and set in motion aspects from each brew to prep for brew day.

What’s in your glass

This year’s 717 Collab is an old school style with an old school approach that is not common in modern brewing.

Helles Bock style lagers have German origins where they traditionally are served at beer festivals, making this seasonally and circumstantially appropriate for Harrisburg Beer Week.

This version is subtly complex with semi-dry layers of toasted grains and fresh bread balanced with restrained herbal and wildflower notes from Hersbrucker and Huell Melon hops.

Tröegs brewed three 15-barrel batches on brew day. The following week, a fourth batch will be brewed for krausening, a traditional German brewing technique that adds a layer of flavor.

Wort from the final batch will be mixed with fresh yeast and added to chilled tanks of the fermenting lager. Stressing fresh yeast captures carbon dioxide and subtle ester notes.

717 Collab Beer description

With each spring, a new 717 Collab emerges. This Helles Bock is built in layers culminating in a semi-dry, malt-forward, complex lager with subtle hop flavors and aroma.

To make sure everyone could enjoy the collaborative spirit, 717-area brewers were invited to join brew day at Tröegs, and Trogner also released the recipe for brewers and homebrewers to use, if desired.

#BeerForGood

Harrisburg Beer Week not only connects the craft beer community through hundreds of events, but it is also the only non-profit event of its kind.

A fully volunteer and independent operation, proceeds from the 10-day festival benefit its exclusive beneficiary, Harrisburg River Rescue & Emergency Services.

This year, $1 per draft sold at collaborators’ locations will be donated to Harrisburg Beer Week and ultimately, Harrisburg River Rescue.

Beyond the taproom

717 Collaboration Beer will be released at the start of Harrisburg Beer Week on Friday, April 26.

In addition to being on tap at each brewery, this year’s 717 Collab is making its way out into the world in both cans for the first time since 2015 and on tap at local bars and restaurants.

Venues carrying this year’s 717 include:

#717Collab also will be pouring at the Harrisburg Beer Week VIP Party on Friday, April 26 and Harrisburg Beer Week booth at PA Flavor on Saturday, April 27.

With so many ways to enjoy the 717 Collab Beer this year, there’s no reason to end #HBGBeerWeek without at least one pour.

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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