Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Years Central PA Brewery Tour - Bullfrog!

After our long travels, we finally arrived at the Bullfrog brewpub around 7:30pm and settled in for the evening.  We weren't sure we'd last four and a half hours but we were going to do our best.  Luckily, as we were getting seated, two spots at the bar opened up so we quickly switched to them.  Jo gets tired of listening to me talk so a bartender stuck behind a bar is a great distraction.  Honestly, I talk a lot, especially if I'm drinking, so I don't blame her at all.  Does sort of stink for the bartender but I'm totally friendly and interesting. What's that?  Stop laughing.
Seriously, though, the bartender, Andy, didn't seem to mind talking to me so that worked out pretty well.  Since we were there for the long haul, I wanted to try samples of all 12 of their beers.  Turned out to not be so difficult although my hangover the next day says I'm lying.  I just told it to shut up.  I will say I really liked their tap handles.  Some were bullfrogs, as you can see, but some were pretty intricate tree branches.  Their root beer was the fanciest which I thought was pretty funny.  Here's a better picture of them.
I of course started my night with the four stouts they had on tap.  I didn't have any all day based on bad luck so I needed my fix immediately.
Right to left, we had Master Blaster an Oak Conditioned Imperial Stout on cask, Strouse's Raspberry Cream Stout, Double Coffee Stout, and kfC Pumpkin Stout on nitro.

Since it was on cask, the Master Blaster was pretty interesting.  Slightly warm and very mildly carbonated, it had a vanilla flavor that was backed by significant fruit notes.  The lingering flavors on it were very woody.  I enjoyed it, but the sample size was plenty.  A full glass probably would have been a bit much although I've been known to have been wrong on this point.

The Strouse's Raspberry Cream Stout was super interesting.  Very raspberry in the nose and very raspberry in the taste.  They used 84 pounds of raspberries, not extract, in brewing it and it shows.  Jo really enjoyed this and actually got a couple pints of it as the night went on.  Very good.

The Double Coffee definitely had coffee in it.  Huge coffee aroma and every sip had coffee mixed with a bit of roast.  I still think Spring House Planet Bean was a little better, but this was pretty enjoyable.

Now we come to my absolute favorite of the night, the Kristen Fields Chocolate Pumpkin Stout.  Man, I smelled this, tasted it and was absolutely blown away.  I couldn't believe that a pumpkin beer could taste so freaking good.  I've liked some of them, but they haven't ever been so awesome.  It had a slight pumpkin pie nose with a little chocolate.  Initial sip had chocolate backed by roasted pumpkin and finished with a dry chocolate sweetness.  I was in love.  Sort of sucked for the bartender Andy since the nitro made it pour like crap but I couldn't help ordering it a bunch more times.  Just so, so good and my favorite of the night.

The next samples were sort of a mix of styles.
Right to left, we have Nut Brown Ale, Sunrise Red, Night Owl Saison aged with brett, and Edgar IPA Christmas Edition.

The Nut Brown was tasty and Jo also enjoyed this one.  Tiny bit of roast in the nose.  Flavors were a mix of roast, caramel and toffee.  Similar to the Bavarian Barbarian Brown but slightly thinner bodied and not quite as sweet.  Jo thought they were both good in their own ways.

Sunrise Red smelled mostly of hops.  It's made with four different varieties so makes sense.  Taste was mostly bitter grapefruit.  Probably good for those that enjoy hops, but not my cup of tea.

Following that with the Night Owl was interesting.  On their beer menu, they said the style is a winter saison with brettanomyces.  Smelled a little sour as a result of the brett.  Tasted ... unique.  Very difficult to describe.  My notes just say, "Wow, just odd."  Andy was nice enough to use a warmer sampler glass for this one which accentuated the flavors but man, just odd.  Honestly, I still thought it was good although at one point I'm pretty sure I referred to it as alcoholic paint thinner.  Somehow this was one of Andy's favorites.

Finishing the tray was the Edgar IPA Christmas Edition.  Seeing as how it tasted and smelled like a double IPA, I couldn't figure out what made it the Christmas Edition.  Turns out, turning the ABV up from 8% to 9.5% is what does it.  Guess they don't want to remember Christmas.  Very tasty double IPA.  Smelled of sweet malt and grapefruit.  Flavors followed with an excellent base of malt sweetness followed by some balancing bitterness.  I like double IPAs because of that balance and this one was no exception.

After that there were only four more beers to try and try them I did.
I'll admit, this was my least favorite group.  Nothing bad, but not styles I'm super interested in trying.  From left to right this time, I got Billtown Blonde, Apricot Wheat, Amarillo-ville American Wheat, and Burton-upon-Billtown Pale Ale.

The Apricot Wheat was well made and better than Otto's.  The wheat wasn't quite as overpowering in this which made it quite a bit more balanced and drinkable.

The other interesting one was Amarillo-ville.  The Bullfrog has been doing a series of wheat beers that they single hop and then seeing the differences.  The Amarillo-ville had a mild hop nose with some grapefruit.  The hops were interesting with the wheat and resulted in a unique beer, just not my style.  The other two were fine, but uneventful, so I'm just going to skip them.

After that, I ordered more samples of the kfC Pumpkin Stout, Master Blaster and Night Owl.  It may be surprising that I got the Night Owl again but honestly it was too weird not to give it a second try.  I quickly drained the pumpkin and realized I wanted more because it was just so delicious.  Hence the picture of the pint below.
I put the night owl in the corner of the tray for a timeout in order to try it while it slowly warmed up.  Still pretty odd even after 5 beers although it does lean more towards delicious by that point.  The pumpkin was still fantastic.  I mean, look at it.  Isn't it pretty?  So good.  At that point it was like 11:30 so that was the last of my ordering.  At midnight, the Bullfrog employees handed out Champagne (or sparkling wine, whatever) and we all toasted for New Years.
I took this picture just because the frog was sitting there staring at me for nearly 5 hours.  I had to.

This wasn't supposed to be the last stop on our tour, but unfortunately Elk Creek Cafe totally screwed us by not opening at 12pm the next day.  It's a horrible pain to get there, through back roads, up a mountain and it's in the middle of nowhere.  Really, really disappointing of them to have hours on their website but then just change them randomly.  Probably won't get back there either because it's so far out of the way.  Stinks.

However, the night at the Bullfrog was awesome and both Jo and I had a great time.  Their beer was mostly great with lots of choices, the food was pretty good (the pile of fries looked delicious), and the staff was incredibly friendly.  I'd definitely go to here and Old Forge a lot if I lived closer to either of them.  Great trip and great New Years.

1 comment:

  1. Ended up here on Friday. Left with growlers of Houblonium P-38 IPA and Edgar IPA. Both were delicious.