Hoppin’ Frog Brewery

HF4
Address:
1680 E Waterloo Rd.

                Akron, OH 44306

Phone:  (234) 525-3764

Website:  www.hoppinfrog.com

Flagship Beers:  B.O.R.I.S. the Oatmeal Crusher, Outta Kilter Scotch-Style Red Ale, Gangster Frog IPA, Silk Porter, Infusion A Coffee Porter

Seasonal Beers:  Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale, Frosted Frog Christmas Ale, Turbo Shandy, Oktoberfest Froggy Style Lager, Killa Vanilla Extraordinary IPA

Other Notable Beers:  D.O.R.I.S. the Destroyer Double Oatmeal Imperial Stout, Rocky Mountain B.O.R.I.S. and D.O.R.I.S, T.O.R.I.S. the Tyrant Triple Oatmeal Imperial Stout, Teeny Tiny Test Batch IPA

The Down Low:  There’s nothing particularly great about a frog.  Think about it…they’re slimy, they’ve got eyes that seem too big for their head, they spend most of their lives in the mud, and their legs can usually be found on the buffet menu of some of the sketchier Chinese restaurants in town.  And yet, there’s something about seeing that weird creature on a bomber of beer that gets us excited every time we’re out shopping for something new.  Because what’s inside that bottle is anything but something you don’t want to touch…

hoppin-frog-borisIt all starts with B.O.R.I.S. the Oatmeal Crusher, an Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout that serves as the backbone for a brewery that pumps out perhaps more great stouts than any other that we’ve ever seen.  They have variations that are whiskey barrel aged, coffee bean-infused, and brewed with darker and richer malts.  If you’re willing to drop a little more dough, they even have one that’s been aged in Pappy Van Winkle barrels (just don’t let them see your jaw hit the floor when you see the $55 price tag).  The B.O.R.I.S. gave way to the D.O.R.I.S., a Double Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout, and then following the passage of the higher ABV law in Ohio last year, the Triple Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout known as T.O.R.I.S.  Think you’ve had a heavy stout before?  Think again.  Pour yourself a glass of this stuff and get your bread knife ready, cause you’re about to have a second helping of dinner.

Hoppin’ Frog has only been around since 2006, and yet their presence in the craft beer industry is widespread enough to have landed them in 15 foreign countries and 19 states.  They’ve got awards aplenty, racking them up by means of 22 different brews that cover all the beer bases.  Founder Fred Karm never seems to run out of new ideas when it comes to making another awesome beer that immediately stacks up next to the best stouts on the shelf, simultaneously convincing you that $15 for 22 ounces is a bargain indeed.

The food menu in the tasting room isn’t large, but it is tasty.  Appetizers, sausage and cheese plates, and specialties like pork belly pair perfectly with their array of beers, and let’s face it…you aren’t going for the food anyway.  If you are, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

HF3

Tuesday evenings at the tasting room are special nights, offering patrons a chance to try their favorite Hoppin’ Frog beers infused with everything from Skittles to Reese’s Puffs to bacon to Twinkies, and everything else in between.  Many weekends at the brewery are opportunities to purchase their new releases in bottles, or to at least try them on draft if bottles aren’t available.  That is, if you can find the place…just punch in the address in your GPS and smile at where it takes you.  And the best part is that there’s always something new to try, no matter how many times you return.  Their beer menu for vintage beer purchases seems to have no boundaries, and you never know what you’ll be leaving with (i.e. an 8 year old bottle of cellar aged B.O.R.I.S.??  We’re guilty of that purchase ourselves).

Take our word for it.  Hoppin’ Frog beer is truly something to behold, and even something better to consume.  It’s one of our 5 favorite breweries of all time, and with an accolade list as long as the beer menu itself, we’re clearly not the only ones that hold them in such high regard.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll never look at a frog the same way again…

BEEResponsible,

the Hopostles

Rhinegeist Brewery

rhinegeistAddress: 1910 Elm St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Phone: (513) 381-1367

Website: www.rhinegeist.com

Flagship Beers: Truth, Cougar, Zen, Panther

Series Beers: Experimental DIPA

Other Notable Beers: Ink, Gramps, Mushhushshu, Saber Tooth Tiger, Hustle, Pure Fury, Dad, Streaker, Fiction, Puma

The Down Low: What is it about drinking beer on an open roof top that seems to enhance the experience exponentially?  Maybe it’s the summer breeze, coupled with the music and friends that you’re gathered with that make it feel like it’s gonna be a fun night in downtown Cincinnati.  Or maybe it’s the fact that every time you go back, the beer selection is new and exciting, with names that are simple and to the point, yet offer very little insight into what style they are until you try them.  Or maybe it’s just because Rhinegeist has one of the coolest looking logos out there, as the “Ghost of the Rhine” always remains blank-staring and stoic, despite the ever-changing myriad of colors and patterns around him…

RB out
Go into any craft beer store in Ohio that carries a decent selection and you’re almost guaranteed to see at least a few different types of Rhinegeist on the shelf.  They make so many different styles of beers, and pump them out year-round at such a furious pace, that it’s often difficult to keep up.  In fact, without the aid of the Untappd app, we’re pretty sure that most of the time, we wouldn’t remember which ones we’ve had and which ones we haven’t.  Most of the more common styles such as the IPA’s, pale ales, blonde ales, etc. will be found in cans, our favorite of which is Truth, due to its hoppy and citrusy character notes.  However, some of the other styles, such as the stouts, DIPA’s, TIPA’s, and barrel-aged beers, will be found in 22 oz. bombers.  They are a bit pricier, but are worth a try if you’re looking to branch out a bit.  They even produce a few ciders, with some hoppy and dry options to satisfy varying palates.

Situated in the historic Over-the-Rhine district of Cincinnati, the Rhinegeist brewery is located in an unassuming spot.  After driving past it once without seeing the vertical sign hanging out front, my wife and I were still unsure if we were at the right place, even after parking and beginning the descent up a narrow stairwell in what felt more like a parking garage than a brewery.  However, there was no mistaking it a few seconds later, as the stairs deposited us in a large, open room that had 2 different bars, huge fermenting tanks guarded by the ever-present ghost, and a smattering of tables and corn hole boards.

RB rooftopWith a vibe that could be best described as “industrial,” it seems to fit the downtown area perfectly.  You get the feeling that you’re in an old warehouse, yet the mood is more of a laid-back college party than anything else.  After a couple flights of beer and a few merch purchases for Zack and myself, we finished up on the rooftop bar which overlooks the surrounding neighborhood.  If the weather is nice when you visit, make sure to check this out as well, as the bar outside has a few other beer options that the inside bars didn’t have.

With a city like Cincinnati (which, by the way, hosts the second largest Oktoberfest in the world, second only to Munich itself), you’re sure to find food and beer options galore to explore.  Just make sure that Rhinegeist brewery is on your list…you don’t want that ghost staring you down if you don’t.

BEEResponsible,
the Hopostles

3 Floyds Brewing Co.

3 FloydsAddress: 9750 Indiana Pkwy Munster, IN 46321

Phone: (219) 922-4425

Website:
www.3floyds.com

Flagship Beers: Zombie Dust, Gumballhead, Yum Yum, Alpha King, Robert the Bruce

Seasonal Beers (mostly 22 oz. bombers): Alpha Klaus, Brew Doo, Munsterfest

Other Notable Beers (mostly 22 oz. bombers): Permanent Funeral, Backmasking, Apocalypse Cow, Behemoth, Blot Out the Son, Rabbid Rabbit

The Down Low: There’s nothing normal about Three Floyd’s Brewing Company in Munster, Indiana.  What makes a great place for a brewery?  Probably out in the open where it’s easy to find for their ever-increasing fan base.  Three Floyd’s has theirs in the middle of an industrial parkway.  What would many agree is the best way to distribute beer to the masses?  Make a ton of it, and make it easy to find.  Three Floyd’s beers, other than a few staples which can be found year round, send you on a quest time and time again to locate, only to find out that someone else got there before you and bought the only 2 bottles that the store received.  What would be considered the best labels to attract a customer?  Probably something catchy, colorful, or memorable to stand out from every other bottle on the shelf.  Three Floyd’s does that, I suppose, if you consider gore, blood, death, and guts “memorable,” “colorful,” and “standing out from every other bottle on the shelf.”  Yes, in all these ways Three Floyd’s would be considered far from normal.  But take one sip of most of their beers, and you’ll discover your newfound appreciation for something that’s anything but ordinary…

Three_Floyds_Brewing_2

With names that read like the closed captioning at the bottom of the horror movies playing in their brewery at all times, Three Floyd’s have managed to bring the heavenly taste of their beer and the macabre together in a way that has legions of craft beer fans clamoring for anything and everything that bears their name on the bottle.  Speaking of the bottle, they range anywhere from death-metal collaborations (Crack the Skye/Mastadon, Amber Smashed Face/Cannibal Corpse, Toxic Maltz/Exodus) to the bizarre (Gumballhead, Zombie Dust, Yum Yum) to the hilarious (Behemoth, Alpha Klaus, Broo Doo).  Look past the crazy gore on the front of Permanent Funeral and you’ll find a top-rated Double IPA, right up there in taste with Pliny the Elder or Hop Juju.  Ignore the blood dripping from his sword, and a bottle of Chevalier Bertand du Guesclin will become one of your all-time favorite sours.  Turn a blind eye to the killer rabbit (Rabbid Rabbit), the skeleton king (Alpha King), the cyclops bovine (Apocalypse Cow), and the psycho (Wigsplitter), and you will find yourself loving many new styles of beer, most of which will have Three Floyd’s at the top of your list.

tf-darklordThe brewery / restaurant is rather small, and because parking is limited, get there early unless you fancy parking on the street and waiting a while for a table.  It also helps to call their hotline to find out which beers they have available on tap that day, many of which aren’t released in bottles and will make you feel even more rewarded for your trip to Munster.  The restaurant is on the right, with the bottle shop and merch shop on the left.  The brewery also has a yearly festival called Dark Lord Day (see this month’s “Have you ever..”), and if you muster up the cash to attend, you’ll leave with a Russian Imperial Stout that will have your beer buddies banging on your door for a sample the minute you get home.

Three Floyd’s occupies a top 5 spot on both of our favorite breweries of all time, and we’re willing to bet that if it isn’t on yours already, it soon will be.  Solid varieties of just about every style of beer, labels that make you cringe or laugh (or both), and quantities that anger you and cause you to gloat when you score one all wrapped up into one, make for something very not normal indeed.  And that’s just the way they like it…

BEEResponsible,
the Hopostles

Hill Farmstead Brewery

hill-farmstead-logoAddress: 403 Hill Rd.
Greensboro Bend, Vermont 05842

Phone: (802) 533-7450

Website: www.hillfarmstead.com

Flagship Beers: Abner (pale ale), Arthur (pale ale), Edward (pale ale), Susan (American IPA), Dorothy (pale ale)

Series Beers: Civil Disobedience (barrel aged versions of some of the flagship beers), Excursions (experimental IPA’s), Society and Solitude (experimental Imperial IPA’s)

Other Notable Beers: Singular Hop Series Beers (Citra, Galaxy, Simcoe, Mosaic, etc.)

The Down Low: Sometimes the best things in life, and in this case a brewery, can be found in the middle of nowhere.  A serene setting, breathtaking scenery, and an unassuming farm in the Vermont countryside are the perfect ingredients for what many craft beer drinkers in America consider to be a bucket-list location when it comes to seeing firsthand where some of the most prized brews come from.  Welcome to Hill Farmstead…

hill-farmstead-2

If you consider yourself a serious craft beer drinker, yet have never heard of Hill Farmstead before, that could be due in part to a few different reasons.  First off, unless you live on the east coast, you would have had a heck of a time obtaining any of it.  Their distribution is pretty limited, making the allure of actually scoring a bottle that much sweeter.  Secondly, to get to the location itself, you may accidentally convince yourself on the way up the mile long dirt and rock road that leads to the brewery that your GPS has gone haywire and is leading you astray.  If either of those reasons don’t fit, then chalk it up to the fact that you’ve had your head buried in your pint glass just a little too long, because when it comes to highly prized craft beer, Hill Farmstead is synonymous with greatness.

hill-farmstead-1The brewery was once the owner’s great-grandfather’s dairy farm, and fittingly enough, many of their most well-known beers have singular names taken from someone in the family ancestry.  Their best known beers are pale ales and saisons, but they also have long-running series of experimental, single-hop, and imperial IPA’s which draw continuous attention to those always looking to try something new.

If you do happen to be fortunate enough to visit the actual brewery, just keep telling yourself, “Good things come to those who wait…”. Getting that growler filled may take upwards of 2-3 hours, but we assure you, it’s worth it.  2 different buildings grace the property, one being a barn that handles all apparel, bottle sales, and beer production.  The other is a cabin that has been transformed into a tap room for patrons to sample a rotating list of drafts.  If it’s packed inside, head outside to one of several gorgeous seating areas where you can take in the scenery and taste a little bit of heaven in liquid form.  After all, once you leave the farm, you’ll need a bit of good luck or at least have a good source to score it again.  Unless, like us, you dream of moving to the farm itself…just don’t expect them to name a beer after you…

BEEResponsible,
the Hopostles

Fat Head’s Brewery

img_6646
Address:  24581 Lorain Rd.
North Olmsted, OH 44070

Phone:  440-801-1001

Website:  www.fatheadscleveland.com

Flagship Beers:  Head Hunter IPA, Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale, Sunshine Daydream Session Ale

Seasonal Beers:  Hop Juju Imperial IPA, Hop Stalker Fresh Hop IPA, Bonehead Red Imperial Red Ale, Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Holly Jolly Christmas Ale, Pimp My Sleigh Belgian-Style Christmas Ale

Other Notable Beers:  Black Knight Schwarzbier, Up in Smoke Smoked Porter, Hippy Sippy Imperial Stout, Head Trip Belgian-Style Tripel, Alpenglow Weizenbock

img_4327The Down Low:  Simply put, enough cannot be said about Fat Head’s Brewery.  With a food menu that reads like the New York yellow pages, and a rotating selection of beer that’s hard to compare to in the entire state of Ohio, Fat Head’s is what any aspiring new restaurant and brewery can only hope to become in its wildest dreams.

First, let’s talk about the beers.  While they do bottle the flagship beers year-round, it’s the seasonal beers that make this brewery truly stand out among the rest.  What more can we say about Hop Juju?  It’s in our top 5 beers of all time.  It’s one of the juiciest, hop-laden pine cone bombs of a beer that you’ll ever try, and it’s got gold medal awards from both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup to back it up.  It only comes out in February, so we usually stock up, enjoy every last drop of it over several weeks, and look forward to the following February when it rolls out again.  Meanwhile,Head Hunter, another solid IPA, helps to hold down the fort in the IPA department year-round, with Hop Stalker IPA and Trail Head Pale Ale making their appearances throughout the year as well.  Spooky Tooth is always a solid choice when the pumpkin beers start hinting at fall’s arrival, and in the winter, Holly Jolly and Pimp My Sleigh are two Christmas beers that will keep you toasty and warm.  The other notable beers listed above, as well as many others that pop up during the year, always make visiting this brewery exciting for their endless innovation at creating new beer recipes.

img_4326On to the food.  OK, I’ll admit–I’m no food critic.  But when I tell you that this place has some of the best food, as well as some of the biggest portions I’ve ever had at a restaurant, I’m not exaggerating.  Mouth-watering burgers, gigantic “Headwiches” ranging from incredible pulled pork, kielbasa and brats, and fish, and appetizers that are too large not to share, this menu literally has it all.  Craving wings?  You’ve never seen them this large.  How about pizza?  Their stone oven masterpieces will have your eyes popping out.  Wanna stick to salad?  Be prepared to go home stuffed and satisfied.

The bar is something to behold as well.  Snaking it’s way through the entrance to the restaurant, its got enough bar stools and beer options to please the thirstiest of customers.  There’s a mug club to join, large beer cap metal signs showcasing the cool labels of most of their beers, and a cool “HeadGear” shop where you can pick out a mug, T-shirt, sticker, hat, and many other various wares before you head out the door.

fullsizerender-2Don’t live or travel to the Cleveland area much?  Have no fear.  There’s a Fat Head’s in Pittsburgh and Portland as well.  Not close to those either?  Well, maybe it’s time to consider moving.  Just don’t be upset that you didn’t think about doing it sooner…

BEEResponsible,
the Hopostles

Phoenix Brewing Company

image000000
Address:  131 North Diamond Street

                   Mansfield, OH  44902

Phone:  419-522-2552

Website: http://www.phoenixbrewing.com/

Flagship Beers:  Redemption IPA, 5 Guinea ESB, Danger City Brown Ale, John Doe American Wheat, Pale Ale 419, The Ferryman Oatmeal Milk Stout

Other Notable Beers:  Cemetery Series (Black Aggie Russian Imperial Stout, Mary Jane Chai Baltic Imperial Porter, Santa Muerte Imperial Chocolate Stout), Century IPA, Surly Gnome Winter Warmer, Jane Doe Raspberry Wheat

image000002
The Down Low:  Situated in downtown Mansfield in a former mortuary, the Phoenix Brewing Company has been pumping out quality brews since April of 2014.  Though you can find the 6 flagship beers on draft there most times of the year, the true excitement in this brewery lies in the beers that pop up seasonally.  Everything from pilsners to barrel-aged stouts, from cream ales to flavored fruit beers, and all sorts of specialties like peppermint mocha stouts and cherry porters, the Phoenix Brewing Company leaves no stone unturned when it comes to finding a new and creative way to brew beers.

Due to its proximity to where we live, the Hopostles have frequented this venue often for their new releases, to hang out with friends, and even to take a tour of the brewery.  The friendliness of the staff, the knowledge of the brewmaster, and the cool atmosphere (which has added outdoor seating and a stage for summer concerts) keeps us coming back time and time again.  In addition to the Cemetery Series now available for purchase in bottles, they have also featured a Mortuary Series for Higher Gravity “lighter” brews at 8% and above, and are currently working on a Transcendence Series for Higher Gravity brews at 12% and above.

image000003

If you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods, be sure to drop in for a pint.  Pick up a cool shirt, sticker, or hat, and let us know what you thought of the place.  We’re confident that it will be worth your time!

BEEResponsible,

the Hopostles