Beer Review: Silk Porter by Hoppin’ Frog

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Beer Name: Silk Porter

Brewery: Hoppin’ Frog
Beer Style: Porter
ABV: 6.2%
Size: 22 oz. bottle
Beer Advocate: 86
RateBeer: 97

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you might have seen me write about how I will drink a heavy stout/porter regardless of the time of year; that being said, when the weather and the leaves start to turn, that need for dark beers becomes all the more insistent.  So when on my last trip through lovely NE Ohio I saw a bottle from Hoppin’ Frog that I hadn’t seenin Columbus before, I had to have it.

Silk Porter is aptly named at least on appearance; it is shiny black in color, and it has no noticeable head which makes it look as though it slides up and down the glass… like silk (get it). The nose brings some coffee notes as well as a bit of dark malt sweetness and maybe a hint of chocolate. The mouthfeel on the beer also reminds me of silk. It is exceptionally smooth with just enough carbonation to make it not fall flat on the tongue. Unlike the smell, the beer’s taste is mostly of sweet chocolate with light notes of coffee. The nose did foreshadow the nice amount of sweetness found when drinking this beer.

This beer is very very drinkable for a porter; it is smooth, chocolate, coffee, and (yes) silky. If I had one criticism, though it would be that it may be lacking the bitter coffee/chocolate taste that I enjoy so much in stouts and porters. That said, I think this would be a great beer for those trying to convert someone who is afraid of stouts/porters to the dark side.

Ratings:
Sessionability: 6-pack. There might be only one or two dark beers that I would consider  more drinkable and also interesting enough to make me want to have more than a couple.
Overall: 5-pack. Not the most exciting beer that I have ever had, but it is not even an ounce bad.
Would Best Be Consumed:  Crepes with strawberries and cream.

Beer Review: Cardinal Ale – Ohio Brewing Co.

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Beer Name: Cardinal Ale

Brewery: Ohio Brewing Company
Beer Style: Irish Red
ABV: 5%
Size: 12 oz. bottle
Beer Advocate: 79
RateBeer: 36 (ouch)

From time to time, I have to travel for my job. This is not usually something I dread, mostly because I like to visit new restaurants and drink new local beers. This past week I got sent to lovely Akron, Ohio; I had intended to visit Thirsty Dog, but, sadly, scheduling conflicts made that impossible. It may have been a stroke of luck, however, because I ended up having a great meal at the Lockview in downtown Akron (great beer, great food, great company).

Anyway whenever I travel, I try to stop at a beer store and see what local gems I can find. I walked into a Giant Eagle on my lunch break and found two 4-packs of Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA which kicks some serious ass; and sitting next to it was a 6-pack of Cardinal Ale from Ohio Brewing so I picked it up as well.

I have never had anything by Ohio Brewing, and this Cardinal Ale, seemed like a perfect beer in name for an Ohio-lover such as myself. Upon grabbing a bottle out my fridge at home, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t realize it was an Irish red (I know Cardinal should have been a tip-off but…). I am not generally a fan of reds, but I already paid for it so I decided to give it a try anyway. The beer poured to an amber color with a slight red tint, with a crazy amount of cloud-like head – crazy as in I had to pour it 5 times to get it all in the glass. The nose of this beer holds a one of the things that turns me off of reds, a malt smell that almost smells like dirt to me; It is not as prevalent as I have experienced with other reds, but it still is there. There also can be found a very slight piny hop aroma. I expected the dirt taste to be super overpowering since I caught it on the nose but I was pleasantly surprised that malts and carbonation were what stood out to me. There is a good level of sweetness, and even a nice bite on the back-end.

Ratings:
Sessionability: 3-pack. I can see how a person who likes red would like this beer and find it to be very drinkable, and while I think it is more drinkable than most reds, I would get tired of it quick.
Overall: 3-pack. But I would give it a 5 for style if I ranked beers that way.
Would Best Be Consumed: I could see this being good with some fried chicken.

Beer Review: Cerberus – Thirsty Dog Brewing Company

Beer Name: Cerberus

Brewery: Thirsty Dog Brewing Company (Akron)
Beer Style: Belgian Style Tripel Ale
ABV: 10%
IBU: 30
Size: 12oz Bottle
Beer Advocate: 85 (The Bros 94)
RateBeer: 89

There are a few perks of helping run the family bar, and one of these perks happens to be free samples! My Heidelberg sales rep dropped off a few beers for me to try (and who am I to say no?), and amongst the beer she dropped off I noticed that one of the beers was wrapped in gold along the top, catching my eye. I went in for a closer look to see Cerberus, a Belgian-style tripel by Thirsty Dog Brewing out of Akron. I’ve had this beer before, but that was before this website existed, so I’ve been looking forward to reviewing it for you guys and gals. Sidenote: For those of you who aren’t familiar with the name Cerberus, click here. Thirsty Dog also makes a dubbel called Orthus. I really like the play on the names aligned with dogs of mythology and styles of beer.

Cerberus pours a clear, yellowish orange (that is until I accidentally poured the bottle sediment, then it became hazy as you can see in the picture) with an almost nonexistent  soapy head. Immediately I could smell the fruity esters of this beer. I picked up smells of peach, pears, and a little citrus. The taste is very similar to the nose fruit esters up front with a slight hint of hops that quickly give a way to malt finish that balances the beer out nicely. As I finished the beer, I noticed a slight bit of lacing still on the glass.

Initially I was worried that Cerberus coming in at 10% ABV was going to have an over-powering alcohol taste/burn, which sometimes upsets my stomach, like I’ve experienced with other tripels, but it was pulled off well and the alcohol burn never distracted me from enjoying the beer.

Ratings:

Sessionability: While I enjoyed the beer coming in at 10% ABV, I don’t know that I would have more than a couple. 2-pack.

Overall: I though this a pretty decent tripel: the alcohol was well hidden and it was flavorful. 5-pack.

Would Best Be Consumed: With some pungent cheese, like a Maytag blue or Blue Stilton.

Video Review- Fresh Frog Raw Hop Imperial Pale Ale by Hoppin’ Frog

Beer Name: Fresh Frog Raw Hop Imperial Pale Ale

Brewery: Hoppin’ Frog
Beer style: Imperial Pale Ale
ABV: 7.8%
IBU: 45
Size: 22 oz. Bottle
Beer Advocate Score: 87

In this video I review Raw Hop by Hoppin’ Frog brewery. This was the hardest review I have ever done. Sorry about the length but it was the only way to fully describe this very complex beer.

Ratings:

Sessionability: 2- Pack
Overall: 5-Pack
Would Best Be Consumed: By it’s self. The flavor is so unique that you should fly solo with this one.

Video Review: MattOhioBeer Drinks a Bunch of Beers, Vol. 2

Okay, first off, I have to stop picking multi-packs that contain six or more different beers in the same box. For one thing, it make the videos long, and also I get loaded.  Well, this time I drank 7.5 beers in an evening – and had the BAC to prove it (check out the end of the video) – out a a brewer’s choice box from Thirsty Dog out of Akron. Beers included are the Whippet Wheat, the Irish Setter Red, Twisted Kilt, Labrador Lager, Cerberus, Hoppus Maximus, and Siberian Night. Enjoy!

Beer Review: Turbo Shandy Citrus Ale – Hopping Frog

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Beer Name: Turbo Shandy Citrus Ale

Brewery: Hoppin’ Frog (Akron)
Beer style: Shandy
ABV: 7.0% (from BA)
IBU: 7.3
Size: 22-oz bottle
Beer Advocate Score: 79
Untappd Score: 4 caps

WOW, THAT’S SWEET!!! This phrase could mean a couple of things. It could mean that my five-month-old just hugged one of my dogs; it could mean that I just listened to the latest Grizzly Bear song for the first time; or it could just mean that I am drinking Hoppin’ Frog’s Turbo Shandy.

First off, I am a fan of shandies – to a point. I don’t have issue with a beer with fruit, (@fitzohiobeer slightly disagrees) but it also requires balance. Turbo Shandy pours a hazy blonde with only a slight head that evaporates quickly, and then just sits in the glass kind of the way a wine cooler would. I poured two glasses at the same time – one for me and one for our editor – and I evidentially stirred up the yeast in the bottle because the second one got a few chunks of yeast in it. The bottle suggests you don’t let the yeast escape the bottle because sometimes yeast floating around in a beer can change the taste a bit – sometimes even improve it (try this with some hefeweizens for a fun at-home beer experiment). In this beer’s case, it seemed to have a strong impact on the nose. The glass without the noticeable yeast smelled of sugary lemon and the yeasty beer smelled much more of oranges.

Now for that sweet taste I was talking about earlier, that is what this beer tastes like, sweet and not much else. It has a bit of a citrus sour to it too; on the first sip it made my mouth water, but I think this was more a function of the sweet than the sour. It almost reminded me of the Lemonhead candies I would eat as a child. After the first sip, the mouth gets used to the sweet and sour flavors and they don’t cause as much mouth discomfort as they did initially, but the continued sweetness actually gave me a bit of a stomach-ache.

Hopping Frog has made some very good beers, but this beer doesn’t taste or act much like a beer; with its high alcohol content and fruity sweetness, it feels more like a wine cooler or something labeled a “malt beverage”. It is just way too sweet for me to enjoy, and besides the citrus, there isn’t a lot going on with this beer. If you had a friend that was not into beer, this might be something he/she would like; but if you like beer, maybe avoid this one.

Ratings:

Sessionability: I give it a 1-pack. I could barely handle the glass and a half of it that I had. I am very glad I shared this one.
Overall: I give it a 2-pack. Not the worst beer I have ever had, but it would not be a beer I would drink again.
Would be best consumed: This would be best consumed if I were an 18-year-old girl during my first week on a college campus. (Disclaimer: MattOhioBeer doesn’t condone underage drinking, but let’s be real: this is what your kid went away to college to do.)

 

Beer Review: Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S. – Hoppin’ Frog Brewery

Beer Name: Barrel Aged Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout (That’s a mouthful!)

Brewery: Hoppin’ Frog (Akron)
Beer Style: Oatmeal Imperial Russian Stout
ABV: 9.4%
IBU: 60
Size: 22oz Bomber
Beer Advocate: 94
Untappd: 4 Caps

This may be the first time I’ve been slightly disappointed in myself writing a review. I wanted to use this blog to not only to give you, the readers, a solid review of Ohio craft beer, but I also wanted to use this blog to try new beers from new breweries that I’ve yet to experience. So I’ll just admit that I’ve had this version of Hoppin’ Frog B.O.R.I.S. before. I won’t blame my beer shop’s lack of selection this week (I could have easily chosen a different Hoppin’ Frog offering), but I’ll blame it on the fact that this beer is delicious and to drink it again for a review is my honor.

B.O.R.I.S pours extremely dark and has a very thick look as it enters the glass, almost like chocolate syrup. The glass I used is 22oz and I’ll blame it on O.C.D., but it took me a while to pour the beer. (I like the bomber to be empty before I start to drink.) The head was dark tan, thick and took its good ol’ time to dissolve. The nose of the beer is very prominent with the smell of oak and whiskey, with it slightly giving way to notes of vanilla and roasted malt. The mouth feel of this beer is extremely smooth, as can be expected with a oatmeal stout, and the taste is outstanding. Up front you get a intense dark chocolate roasted malt taste that blends with a vanilla and toffee flavor that plays together well on the palate. The back end of the beer comes on strong with oak and whiskey flavor from the barrel, and at 9.4% there isn’t the whiskey/alcohol burn I was expecting.

I recently had a few Russian imperial stouts from bigger craft breweries, and I can say without hesitation I’d go with the Hoppin’ Frog hands down. I know that this version was barrel aged, but I don’t really care for whiskey that much and I’d still choose this over the others.

Ratings:

Sessionability: Even though this stout is coming in at 9.4%, I could have more than one of these in a sitting. But with a price tag at about $16 a bomber, I’d probably switch to a different Ohio brew after one. 2-pack.
Overall: This beer has a lot of different things going on (just look at its name), and I believe thats what makes it so special. 5-pack.
Would best be consumed: On a cold winter night, but since we aren’t in that season, a chilly summer night sitting around a bonfire with some friends and letting everyone sample what a great beer you have would do.

Beer Review: Thirsty Dog Brewing Company – Raspberry Ale

Beer Name: Raspberry Ale
Brewery: Thirsty Dog Brewing Company (Akron, Ohio)
Beer style: Raspberry Ale
ABV: 3.9%
IBU: 7.5
Size: 1 single 12-oz bottle for $1.50 at the Pickerington Kroger
Beer Advocate Score: 78
UNTAPPD Score: 3 Caps

Fruit in my beer! Blasphemy! Well not quite and definitely not any more. There was a time and a place for the Reinheitsgebot, but that time is not now. (Like how I just drop a German word like that and not explain it? It makes me look smarter.) Okay, to be fair I used Wikipedia, but the Reinheitsgebot is a German law that says that “beer” can only include three ingredients: barley, hops, and water. But like other German laws that tried to limit diversity, this rule has been stomped down by the bootheel of freedom; although most beers follow this rule, some brewers violate it in the pursuit of new and interesting flavor profiles.

I am a big fan of Thirsty Dog – their Sibeiran Night is my go to Imperial Stout – so when the wife brought home a couple of different bottles from Kroger, I was excited to dig in. Their Raspberry Ale made with “natural raspberries” pours with a lot of head (see the picture above), but even before I picked it up from the table I could smell the raspberries. After waiting a few minutes for the head to go down, I took a sip. It is very berry and very sweet, but the large amount of carbonation gives this beer an almost acidic taste until it sits on the table for about twenty minutes. As the low IBU would point to, there is not much hop taste in this beer. All in all, it is a bit too sweet and fruity for me, but I didn’t hate it.

Ratings:

Sessionability: I give it a 2-pack. It’s too sweet to drink a bunch of, kind of like port wine.
Overall: I give it a 3-pack. Not my speed but not bad either. I can see how someone would really like this beer, but that person is not me.
Would be best consumed: Some bitter dark chocolate would balance this beer very well as a desert pairing.

Beer Review: Siberian Night – Thirsty Dog Brewing Company

Beer Name: Siberian Night
Brewery: Thirsty Dog Brewing Company (Akron, OH)
Beer style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.7
IBU: 58
Size: 12 oz bottle in a 4-pack ($10.99)
Beer Advocate Score: 93
Untapped Rank: 4 Caps

I just finished my last final for the semester, and I did it stone-face sober. This is not my typical forte, but I was supposed to go on a date tonight. She cancelled at the last minute so I turned to the one relationship that never fails: the one between beer and me.

With the weight of finals relieved and the fact that I am now playing catch up, I decided to go big. Siberian Night is just that: Big in alcohol, big in flavor, and big in after-taste. This beer does not disappoint.

It pours very smooth and has a very small tan head. The aroma is barely present for a beer that has so much flavor, but it smells slightly boozy and chocolatey.

When it first hits your tongue, you will notice it has a bit more carbonation than your standard stout. Immediately you can taste the alcohol. I rather enjoy this quality, but some may find it harsh. Things smooth out very quickly though. Chocolate notes are present for a brief time and then things turn toward more of a roasted caramel malt flavor. The more you drink, the more dark chocolate and malt flavors invade your palate and linger for quite sometime. The alcohol taste fades away and you are left with a smooth stout. It is so smooth and delicious that you will want to drink more than one, but be careful. Too many and you may actually turn into a wild Siberian dog, ravaging through the night, humping anything that moves and eating anything that appears to be edible. If you like black coffee and/or dark chocolate, you cannot go wrong with this beer.

Ratings:

Sessionability: I give it a 4-pack ( I could drink it all night, but it would be a short night)
Overall: I give it a 5-pack (5 out of 6)
Would be best consumed: On a snowy Ohio evening with friends or as the first beer of the day to take the edge off last night’s hangover.