Beer, Space and Time: Frog Hop, Batch 33 and Winter IPA
Every so often, a brewery or distributor is kind enough to send me a sample or two of their beers.
The problem is, the travel focus of Road Trips for Beer does not really encompass beer reviewing except for occasional mentions of brews that I’ve tasted on a road trip. It just doesn’t seem quite right to shoehorn a beer review into the site every so often because that’s not what you come here to read.
Another issue, I confess, is that my palate is not as well-developed as some others. Sure, I can tell the difference between “hoppy” and “malty” and can detect coffee or chocolate flavors in an imperial stout or porter, but I enjoy trying different beers and basically categorize them as “I like it” or “I don’t care much for it.” And I have drunk brews in the “don’t much care for it” category that others have raved about. I believe the old maxim is “to each their own,” and that’s the way I look at it, so I don’t feel comfortable recommending or rating beers.
To get to the point, I’ve been thinking for a while about how best to write about these samples. The breweries are kind enough to send them to me; the least I can do is mention them at some point.
Here’s what I’ve decided. I’m going to let you know a few basics about the brew, give you the brewer’s take on it, and then close my eyes and use my experience and imagination to write about where the beer might best be enjoyed.
Let’s get started on the inaugural “Beer, Space and Time,” in which I get three beers out of my fridge, into my mouth and out of the way.
Frog Hop Fresh Hopped Pale Ale (5.1% ABV)
Brewed by: The Great Northern Brewing Company, Whitefish, Montana
What the Brewer Says: “A truly fresh hopped pale ale. Pronounced tropical fruit characteristics and grassy hop qualities dominated the aroma while well-rounded maltiness balances the moderate bitterness. As a result, Frog Hop is a very crisp, drinkable, and unique beer – perfect of enjoying on a beautiful fall day.”
The Space and Time: Fall, yes. A long morning of fly-fishing for trout in a swift mountain stream morphs into an Indian summer afternoon. Waders are off, creel is filled and you pull out the bottle of Frog Hop out of the stream, open it, pour it and recline for the duration of the drinking against the trunk of a tall pine tree. Dinner will be fish, served fresh.
Fun Fact: Great Northern bought the 126 pounds of fresh hops for this brew from local growers, who brought their crop to the Whitefish Farmer’s Market. Within 24 hours of picking and while still wet, the hops were added to the boil.
Where You Can Find It: Only at the Black Star Draught House in Whitefish, on draft or in 22-oz. bottles.
Batch 19 (5.5% ABV)
Brewed by: MillerCoors
What the Brewer Says: “The pre-Prohibition style lager delivers a bold, hoppy flavor that is surprisingly well balanced. It derives its bold taste by using a rare combination of hops, including Hersbrucker and Strisslepalt. Hersbrucker provides herbal notes and Strisslespalt delivers notes of black currant. We are aware of no brewer in America who uses this combination today.”
The Space and Time: Your buddy scored the use of an old warehouse for the band to practice in, but the space needs a little – make that a LOT of work. From early morning until after the sun sets, you and your friends are sweeping, cleaning and hauling out trash. Finally, you whip the warehouse into good enough shape to set up the instruments. A bottle of Batch 19 washes the dust out of your mouth, quenches your thirst and gets you in the mood to jam all night.
Fun Fact: MillerCoors claims the beer is “derived from a recipe found in an old logbook discovered in brewery archives dating back to before 1919, when Prohibition banned beer.”
Where You Can Find It: Currently available on draft only in 16 cities across the country . It should be noted that my sample came in one of the coolest-looking beer bottles I’ve come across in quite a while.
Newcastle Winter IPA (5.2% ABV)
What the Brewer Says: “Zesty in character and jam-packed with a creamy finish, the Newcastle Winter IPA is full-bodied and hoppy, delivering unique and authentic malt flavors for the cold season and snowy matchdays.”
The Space and Time: It’s December, in Florida. A cold front has moved through, creating one of those rare Southern evenings when sitting with the family around the fire pit in the backyard sounds like a great idea. The weenies are roasted, and the last of the gooey marshmallows have been carefully toasted to a golden-brown and slurped down. You send the kids into the house to put on their PJs, pop open a Newcastle Winter IPA and sip it while being mesmerized by the warm glowing embers of the fire’s last hour.
Fun Fact: The Winter IPA is part of Newcastle’s Limited Edition seasonal ales: The others are Summer Ale, Werewolf (fall) and Founder’s Ale (spring). Also, it comes in a brown bottle, while Newcastle’s flagship Brown Ale is still shipped in clear glass.
Where You Can Find It: Nationwide in six- and 12-packs, as well as on draft. Available November to January.
The beers mentioned in this article were provided by the breweries or their representatives. However, any personal opinions expressed are mine and not influenced by any other. Anyone interested in sending samples for this feature can find contact information here.