Goodbye not so old friend?

My buddy Steve is going through an existential crisis: His favorite beer is being discontinued.  He needed a shoulder to cry on and some good advice, and for some crazy reason, he turned to us.  His story follows below:

In the world of craft beers and overall beer appreciation I’m most definitely a newbie.  Having only been at it for about a year I realize I have a lot to learn and am not nearly as open to trying new things as I should be.  That being said, I am slowly making my way in the world today and it does sometimes seem like it takes everything I got.  This brings me to the subject of this post, Troeg’s Rugged Trail Nut Brown Ale.  In the short time since first sampling this delicious libation it has quickly and undoubtedly become my favorite beer.  

(How did I discover Troeg’s?  Well thank none other than Brother Jim for that one, who in a conversation a while back recommended I try their Hop Back Amber Ale since I had told him that I had fondness for Bass Ale.  His suggestion didn’t disappoint and I’ve been an advocate for the brand ever since.)

Here’s where you would normally expect to see some sort of review of this drink and though I may be a neophyte I will give it a go.  A session beer, at only 4.4% AVC, it pours dark brown, almost soda-like, with a slight head and a subtle note of nuttiness.  (Duh, it’s called Nut Brown Ale for a reason)  Taste wise it is very smooth, despite its dark color, with a slight caramel aftertaste, not bitter, not sweet, almost non-existent, but in a good way if that makes any sense.  From a profile standpoint it’s like Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale had a make-out session with Newcastle and this was the result.  Now if you don’t like either of those two beers this is not the beer for you, and if you do, well then by all means I implore you to go out and get some while you can, which won’t be for much longer.

Therein lies the rub, whilst picking up a case recently at a local Bottle King, the only store where they carry it by me, which is surprising because there is no shortage of great beer stores in my neck of the woods, I was tipped to the fact that Troeg’s will not be continuing their production of this delicious beverage anymore.  This came right on the heels of me suggesting to a friendly stranger that she put back the sixer of Brooklyn Brown Ale and grab herself some Rugged Trail instead.  Now if I had known that it would be soon be gone from my life I might not have made the suggestion and instead hoarded it for myself.

I should note that upon hearing the horrible news I loaded up a second case in my cart.  I was tempted to get all four cases on display but not sure how the wife would’ve reacted to my arriving at home with a 96 beers in my trunk.

All of which leaves me with a serious problem.

My favorite beer is going away and there’s nothing I can do about it.  I’m about to become a beer orphan once again, lacking a true “favorite” beer, which for most people wouldn’t be a huge deal but for those who know me they will vouch for the fact that being able to identify something as a definite “favorite” means a lot to me.  Take that for what you will.

Sure, I can bump up some other favorites to the top spot, the aforementioned Sammy Smith Nut Brown or perhaps Rogue’s delicious Hazelnut Brown Nectar.  I can also continue on my equal parts enjoyable and arduous transition into the world of Pale Ales, an endeavor I’m just beginning with mixed results.  Still, something tells me I won’t feel at piece until another lucky drink assumes the spot of “favorite” in my personal universe of beer enjoyment.

So I ask you Beer and Whiskey Brothers and their readers, any suggestions?

-Steve (Honorary Beer & Whiskey Brother)

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Categories: Beer, Guest Post, review


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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13 Comments on “Goodbye not so old friend?”

  1. Rob Crozier
    March 2, 2010 at 2:50 pm #

    First beer that comes to mind and is relatively easy to find is Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale. If I remember (its been a while since I’ve had one) that it has a bit more bite than the Rugged Trail. Avery makes a good brown ale but may not be as easy to find called Ellie’s Brown Ale.

    I’ve been fortunate so far in my beer years to not have a favorite beer pulled from the shelves. Best of luck to you in finding that new love.

    • frischer50
      March 2, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

      Thanks for the tip, Smuttynose has come up on a few searches I’ve done so I will definitely put them on my radar. Avery as well. There is also a Hebrew based brew, the name escapes me, that is supposed to be legit.

      For the time being I’ll probably savor my few remaining Rugged Trail friends and maybe devote more time to falling in serious like with Rogue’s Hazelnut Nectar.

  2. March 2, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    I hope you get the answers you seek here, Steve. I had a very nice “session” beer during the Simply Beer Session Beer Brawl. It was an Avery Redpoint Ale, a real malty treat with an ABV of 5.5%. You can find it around here, too.

    Here’s a link to the podcast:

  3. March 2, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    I just got off the phone with Troegs and they said that Rugged Trail was one of their lowest performing beers, which made it “susceptible” to replacement.

    But here’s the (literally) delicious irony- they told me they’re replacing Rugged Trail with 12oz. bottles of Java Head Stout – one of my favorites! So it’s bad news for you Steve, but good news for guys who love big beers like me.

    I also asked if Rugged trail might be brought back as a seasonal offering and they simply said “no.” So go back to the Bottle King and load up. Maybe by the time you’re through with the 96 bottles you will have found a new favorite beer. I wouldn’t recommend the Java Head Stout for you, though. Call it a hunch.

    • frischer50
      March 2, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

      this doesn’t surprise me as traditional brown ales don’t get a lot of love as they are not as flashy as the super hopped up ones.

      The NY Times had an interesting article on it as a matter of fact… way back in 2007, sensing the upcoming trend

  4. Don
    March 2, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    Steve, I wish I could give you a suggestion that was close, but I have none. What I might suggest is that this is a grat opportunity for you to do a little exploration in the world of craft beer. It sounds to me like you were exploring new craft brews, and when you found one you liked you just stopped, WTF is that all about? Here is the gentle nudge you needed to get back on your horse, open up your mind and jump back in with both feet into the ocean that is craft beers. You can start with the Belgians, move onto sours, play with the Saisons, and even dabble with the stouts. You aren’t doomed, you’ve been liberated! Go out and find 5 new favorites. They will never discontinue 5 beers, and that will give you time to find your favorites to replace the ones you might loose along the way…or better yet, find some seasonals you can look forward to year after year coming out and getting reacquainted with an old friend. Craft beer is awesome, and you shouldn’t climb into a box and never come out, if you’re gonna do that you might as well just drink Bud. OK…That last statement just made me throw up a little in my mouth, but you get the idea, variety is the spice of life, and beer is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest. Enjoy the Journey my friend.

    The Other Beer and Whiskey Brother

    • frischer50
      March 4, 2010 at 9:46 am #

      Nothing like getting heckled by the other Beer and Whiskey Brother… ha

      Point taken however I should say that while I did discover a favorite I have still been on the path to discovery trying to explore as many new beers as possible, it’s just that I found one I really liked and made sure to drink it pretty regularly.

      That being said, I’ve decided to suck it up so to speak and get moving on the Pale Ale Trail, albeit with designated pit stop visits with some near and dear friends like the Rogue’s and Sammy Smith’s of the world. Oh, and Long Trail Double Bag, an awesome beer that your brother first got me to sample.

      Or better yet, might actually dive into some whiskey as well as that is another enjoyable libation of mine.

      • Don
        March 4, 2010 at 9:50 am #

        Now You’re talking Steve. If you want some help with the Whiskey let me know. I have lots of suggestions for the Noob as well as the experienced whiskey fan!

  5. March 2, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

    Your loss is my gain! I think Java Head is an awesome brew and I’m glad to hear its going to be available in little bottles. Love that stuff ! (I won a bottle from my Fantasy Football league)

  6. RobbieD
    March 28, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    I too loved Rugged Trail. I love hiking and one time I was out hikin a Pennsylvania Trail called the Black Forest Trail, which is a very rugged trail and the trail passes a restaurant on the Pine Creek, Slate Run Inn. I stopped there and drank a rugged trail ale and fell in love. It was not my favorite, I usually don’t have favorite beers, I like to try different beers all the time, so it’s more like I have favorites. I recently got into homebrewing too. I really do miss Troegs rugged trail ale and have no interest in its replacement.
    York, Pa

    • March 29, 2011 at 10:09 am #

      I guess there were to few folks buying the stuff, which is a shame. I agree that Java Head, the beer that replaced Rugged Trail isn’t a beer I love.


  1. Foobooz » News For People Who Like Bad News - March 5, 2010

    […] Troegs Rugged Trail is being discontinued. We always appreciated the brown ale and will certainly miss it. On the good side, Troegs Java Head Stout is going year round. [Beer & Whiskey Brothers] […]

  2. Complaining Works: Hotel Hershey to Offer More Local Craft Beers « Beer & Whiskey Brothers - July 1, 2010

    […] took my suggestion to heart. I did mention to him that Troegs Rugged Trail Ale has been shelved (much to my buddy Steve’s dismay), but I’m sure he’ll have plenty of fresh options from the Trogner […]

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