Saturday, December 04, 2010

By Special Request

All right, y'all ready to get festive? Today we're sampling Frosted Frog's Christmas Ale from Hoppin' Frog Brewery out of Akron, Ohio. This is the first of their beers that I've tried, I believe, but I checked out their website and they have a lot of great-looking brews that I'm looking forward to trying. I'm doing this one by request for my cousin Lori Day Marshall, and I actually had to go to two different places to find it. The Charleston Beer Exchange was out of it, but that's okay; I'm like a kid in a candy store at that place and I picked up a couple confections that I will be sampling soon. I also got to watch the hard-working proprietors there trying to satisfy a woman who said she wanted a Christmas ale but not with any spices, and although I held my tongue I did want to ask her what the hell was wrong with her, trying to bland up Christmas like that. What does she think makes an ale a Christmas ale? Correct answer -- spice.
(She wouldn't have wanted any Frosted Frog for sure. This thing looks spicy -- specifically, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and I can't wait to see if my olfactory Olympics are paying off and I can pick these flavors out.)
So, then I went to Whole Foods and they not only had the Frog I was looking for, they had some kind of food fair going on and I got even samples to make a whole, free meal.

All right, let's get to drinking. The recommended glass for this ale is a pint glass. Green Arrow's in the dishwasher trying to recover from his battle with the Hop Devil last night. So I'm going with a Dogfish Head pint bottle. This might get me arrested in Belgium, but we live in the land of the free. (I read somewhere that in Belgium it's supposed to be very important to drink a beer in that brewery's glass and if said glass if unavailable because another barfly is using it, you have to either wait or choose something else.)

APPEARANCE: Pours a dark brown with almost no head (although this might be me falling back on my Old Milwaukee pouring habits). Looks almost like a porter but I can tell (though I don't want to jump ahead to the mouthfeel section) that it's not near as thick. Since there's no head there's no lace.

AROMA: OMG I can actually smell the cinnamon!! I am so proud of my nose. There's something else there too, something sweet but comforting, not cloying like the way the kitchen smells when your grandmother makes candy apples.

TASTE: Very interesting. You can definitely taste the spices. It's like a pumpkin pie without sugar -- except that a pumpkin pie without sugar would probably taste boring, but beer is not pie and being able to separate those autumnal spices from the deadly white powder we all snort is an experience I'm glad I've had. Hoppin' Frog is kind enough to give aspiring beer geeks like me some specs on this ale -- 8.6% alcohol by volume, 84 OG (20.1 oP) (your guess is as good as mine) and 12 IBU. IBU stands for International Bittering Units and 12 is very very low. It means the hop taste is not at the forefront like it was last night. But I must be very sensitive to IBUs because I can definitely taste some slight hoppy bitterness. BTW, 8.6 % ABV is pretty high and this is a large bottle, so if this post makes less and less sense as we go on that's why. Also BTW, because it is such a big bottle I was able to pour a second glass and this time we got a 3/4 inch that quickly dispersed. Still not much in the way of lace.

MOUTHFEEL: As I could tell from the APPEARANCE it is thinner than the porter it resembles, but it packs such a potent spice punch it feels big in your mouth.

DRINKABILITY: Like most strong beers, strong in taste and alcohol, this is not something you want to swill like BudMillerCoors. But this very festive-feeling ale forces me to paraphrase the great Tony the Tiger: Frosted Frogs? They're Gr-r-r-eat!

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