Tröegs to debut beer inspired by Graffiti Highway in Centralia

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HERSHEY — The once-frequented Graffiti Highway in Centralia may be a thing of the past, but the memory lives on through a new beer brewed by Tröegs Independent Brewing in Hershey.

The brewing company, located at 200 Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, announced the launch of IPA Graffiti Highway, named after the abandoned .74-mile stretch of Route 61 in Centralia. The juicy, tropical IPA with a touch of haze will be available on draft and in 12-oz. cans throughout Tröegs’ entire distribution footprint starting Monday.

“We’re always looking for unique stories to tell,” said Marketing Director David Graham. “This landmark is an unbelievable story and it fits right in with us from an art perspective. The communal aspect that happened there is what we’re trying to do here at Tröegs, to share a drink over a shared passion. A lot of artists came together to leave their mark on Graffiti Highway, and we love the part of beer that brings people together.”

In Tröegs’s announcement this week, it said the Graffiti Highway IPA “wanders off the beaten path, where twists and turns of citrus and tropical aromas merge into a colorful mosaic. It has notes of juicy citrus, tropical fruit, and a hint of mixed berry. It is 6% ABV.

“It seems like, if you were out of an adventure, it’s the perfect beer to drink,” said Graham. “The image of Graffiti Highway really resonates with what we’re trying to do here.”

Centralia, located in Columbia County just a few miles outside Mount Carmel in Northumberland County, is perhaps Pennsylvania’s most famous ghost town after an underground mine fire started in 1962. Only a handful of houses and residents, the municipal building, a few cemeteries, and the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church just over the borough line remain.

The beer’s namesake, despite being on private property and no trespassing allowed, became a landmark for illegal visitors wanting to see its cracked asphalt and hundreds of spray-painted words and images. In 2020, landowner Pagnotti Enterprises, of Wilkes-Barre, hired Fox Coal Co. Mining to truck between 8,000 to 10,000 tons of dirt to cover the unofficial popular tourist destination.

The beer will be available year-round on draft and in 12-oz. cans throughout Tröegs’ entire distribution footprint. Also available is Graffiti Highway Double IPA, also available year-round. Packaged exclusively in 19.2-oz. cans, this amped-up version clocks in at 9.5% ABV.

It will be available anywhere Troegs is sold, including local distributors, grocery stores and convenience stores, said Graham.

Like many of Tröegs’ beers, Graffiti Highway started as a series of test batches through the brewery’s Research & Development brewhouse known as the Scratch Lab, according to Tröegs.

“The Scratch Lab is a 3-barrel system that allows us to test hop combinations, times and temperatures side-by-side,” said Tröegs Brewing Manager Tim Mayhew. “We’re able to taste the nuances of these trials and find new inspirations.”

This exploration of flavors has always been central to the independent brewery’s ethos, according to Tröegs.

“Each time we taste a pilot batch, it’s like finding a new color of the rainbow,” said Tröegs co-founding brother and brewmaster John Trogner.

Tröegs worked with Pittsburgh-based muralist and designer Jewels Despines to turn the road’s colorful canvas into “fun, funky label art,” according to Tröegs.

“While I do make other things outside of painting, I feel that I am truly at my best with a brush or a spray can in my hand,” said Despines. “The background of the can art is layered with classic graffiti elements like drips, arrows, and bubbles.”

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