Beercation 2.0 kicks off at Bullfrog Brewery

Several months ago, the idea for Beercation 2.0 began taking shape. Beercation 1.0 being a crazy idea, made real in possibly the best way… was not something i expected to try again. In some ways Beercation 1.0 was so perfect, that it seemed like the kind of thing that should be left alone on a shelf as a trophy, a fond memory of that crazy thing we did.

Beercation 2.0 took a few forms before we settled on the current itinerary. And in all the time and planning, it took another form also. Where Beercation 1.0 was about going to places of legend. A pilgrimage of sorts, Beercation 2.0, while it does contain some legendary spots, is more about adventure. Going places we would possibly never go otherwise, in search of brews that will inspire us to spread the good word. And so excitement mounted as we headed back out on the road.

A general map of our path over the next week

A general map of our path over the next week

We kicked off with what seems to be our home base, the Bullfrog Brewery. The Bullfrog is always a nice visit, if for no other reason, than that it gives us time to hang with our good friend Rich Murphy, arguably the mayor of the Bullfrog. We had good fortune in a couple notable ways this night. Firstly the inclusion, of one of the Bullfrog’s sour beers, The Blue Condition. Secondly, the cancellation of the band that was supposed to play that night. (Sorry Bullfrog, we love you, but we’d rather be able to talk than to hear the folksy jams).

Al and Hatchy get their Blue Condition taken care of

Al and Hatchy get their Blue Condition taken care of

The Blue Condition was a great beer. A blueberry sour coming in at a pretty hefty 8%, that is well hidden in the taste. This is a great beer for those just warming up to sours. It;s full in the mouth, smooth, and tart enough to wake the taste buds. The flavor is rich slightly sweet and vinous with a nice blueberry flavor throughout. This is way too easy to drink for it’s strength.

Also on the menu, was an attractive saison, also with blueberries, called Sacre Bleu. This was mellow and slightly funky, with just a whiff of blueberry flavor. A very delicate, welcoming beer, even for it’s 6.5%.

It’s not a trip to the Bullfrog without some their IPA, The Edgar. I’ve reviewed this before. It’s a fantastic hop-lovers beer, thats is always a must have for me.

After some food and beers with Rich, he flagged down Steve, one of the owners for a special trip to the basement to see and hopefully taste some of the barrels. This was a very welcome surprise. The Bullfrog’s brewing system is in the bar itself, so seeing that comes with the price of admission, but to get down to the barrel/aging area was a real treat.

Rich and Steve tap some Kriek

Rich and Steve tap some Kriek

Being a home brewer and sour beer lover, a look in this basement space was just a delight in every direction. Gear porn abounded. Not least of which were some very cool stainless wine aging tanks the Bullfrog had recently acquired. Lucky for us they were also filled with a delicious Kriek that is coming along quite well. As this beer was very young, I don’t want to say too much about it, but I will say, it’s developing some of the characteristics of the best Krieks, and promises to be something to behold upon it’s completion. May need to keep in touch and find out when this is done.

Bullfrog barrels

Bullfrog barrels

Next we moved on to check out a bunch of new cognac barrels, and some of their Lambic barrels. Being close to all of that oak, was making me dizzy. Thoughts of filling my basement with wood, dancing in my head… but I digress. Steve was kind enough to present us with one of the highlights of the trip for sure. A sample of their 9 month old Lambic, straight from the barrel. Like the Kreik, this was very young yet, but for it’s age, it was heading in a beautiful direction. Comparisons to Drie Fonteinen were agreed upon amongst the group, and holding onto the glass for more than a second became a battle of wills. This is going to be exceptional. Hopefully some day, I’ll get to try the finished product.

Some of the Beers in the Cognac barrels didn’t fair so well. One in particular had a serious acetobacter infection, and had turned into a very nice vinegar, which we were able to sample. While this beer awry, could likely strip paint, it was developing a really nice cidery, spicy flavor, and should make a very favorable addition to some dishes and dressings at the Frog in the near future.

Steve pulling out some Flemish Red

Steve pulling out some Flemish Red

Our final tasting of the night was a Flemish red ale, similar to Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge. Like the other sours we tasted, this was also quite young, but man was it developing nicely. The comparison to Jacobins should give an idea how good this is. Seeing as how all three of these sours are on a similar track, I anticipate them possibly being on around the same time. If they are ever on, all at once, it would make quite a visit for any sour heads out there.

Last call came, and we headed back to Rich’s with a growler of Blue Condition in tow. We finished up the night with a few of my sours, which I have yet to write about. We sat around Rich’s kitchen table, eating frozen pizza, and talking over the night’s tastings… It was a fitting end I think, to what was a great kickoff to our beer adventure.


One comment

  1. […] The trip begins with a special basement tour of the Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport. Many thanks to Steve for showing us around and Rich for working the connections. Read more about it on Ethan’s blog, A Beer Diary. […]

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