Meet Nick Johnson, Tröegs’ Regional Sales Manager and universal spreader of Tröegs love.
Philly Beer Scene: What were your plans in life before you got into the beer business?
Nick Johnson: I was either going to be a Sherpa mountain guide and carry out my life in the Himalayas helping people reach the summit of Mt. Everest or fulfill my lifelong dream of winning So You Think You Can Dance with my sick break dancing skills – but then I found beer.
PBS: How did you start working for Tröegs?
Nick: In college, I spent three years slinging kegs of Natty Ice into car trunks on a nightly basis at Gabler’s Beverage in beautiful Shippensburg, PA. After graduation, I fell into a job at local wholesaler selling beers like Coors, Rolling Rock and PBR. A friend in the beer industry told me Tröegs was going to hire a Philly rep, so I got a hold of Chris Trogner and went to the brewery to have a beer with him (no lie.). A few weeks later I was selling beer for an amazing craft brewery in Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
PBS: Everyone seems to think you’re just a sales rep for Tröegs. What is your real role at the company?
Nick: My core job is to sell Tröegs to anyone and everyone. Marketing also plays a huge part in my day-to-day job in regards to spreading the Tröegs love from one person to the next. In my time as a brewery rep I also tackled glamorous jobs like delivering beer, working on the bottling line, brewing my own batch of wedding beer (that doubled as a Scratch Beer), building variety packs, giving tours, and of course monitoring quality assurance!
PBS: When not selling beer, what are some of your interests/hobbies?
Nick: If I could find a moment when I’m not selling beer, that would be awesome! My job crosses into all aspects of your life – inevitably every conversation turns to beer, but I’m not complaining. I play ice hockey (Team Tröegs Brewing – Oaks Center Ice), love my Philly sports, spending time with my family and friends. If you’ve seen the movie Airborne that sums up my life outside of beer selling.
PBS: With Tröegs growing and opening a bigger brewery, what can we expect to see from them?
Nick: Only time will tell but hopefully a lot more people on this planet will be drinking Tröegs beer! We are creating a working brewery where visitors will be able to see every aspect of beer production via a self-guided tour. The new brewhouse is located in the middle of the tasting room. It consists of a 100-barrel system, and a 16-barrel experimental system which gives us a lot more space for experimentation on Scratch Beer and on-premise only beers, as well as the ability to create greater quantities of year-round and seasonal beers. Splinter beer production will also be increased, as we have a dedicated wood barrel room that can accommodate 150-200 barrels.
PBS: Aside from Tröegs, what is your favorite/go-to brewery?
Nick: That’s a tough question. I don’t have one specific go-to brewery when I’m trying someone’s beer. But, I just opened my fridge, and other than Tröegs, there were beers from Ommegang, Victory, Brewers Art, Allagash, Captain Lawrence, Flying Fish, Boon, De Ranke, & Yards. As with many in the community, I love drinking beer just as much as selling it.
PBS: What is your take on the constant arrival of new breweries to the area? Do you think the market is getting flooded or the locals are getting lost?
Nick: New beers keep me on my toes. It’s a weekly reality I have to deal with and it sometimes feels like a flood. While it’s frustrating to see no local beer on tap at accounts, Tröegs continues to grow in the Philadelphia market so we are more than holding our own in the best beer market in the country. Everyone always wants new, but the core brands are what ultimately grows the business more than chasing the next new thing.
PBS: What is one of your best memories working for Tröegs?
Nick: There have been quite a few vivid memories over the past six plus years. We held our first sales meetings on a torn-up couch in Chris’ office, and the last meeting was in our new conference room overlooking the location of the new brewhouse. One of my standout memories was last year’s GABF where Tröegs won three medals. Three of us represented the brewery on the awards stage and the brewery won medals for our two flagships – Hopback and Troegantor.
PBS:Why should people drink more Tröegs?
Nick: I really love my job and want to keep working at Tröegs, so on a selfish level people should keep drinking Tröegs so I can pay my mortgage and still afford my fancy cars and gold chains. But seriously, we’ve been making great-drinking beers for 15 years that are consistent and well-made. With our expansion, we’ll be bringing some new beers into the marketplace and we will be increasing quantities on hard-to-find beers.