Video Review: Frog Level Lily's Cream Boy

Today's video review comes from one of my favorite breweries, Frog Level Brewing Company, and their easy-drinking Lily's Cream Boy Ale.

I updated the YouTube video description and the outro to include more contact info (adding Untappd and Instagram), and I also put in new intro/outro music. Feel free to offer thoughts on the changes. I made one error in the audio transition coming out of the intro that will be fixed tomorrow.

I am very excited for tomorrow's review. It's gonna be a big one, folks. Stay tuned.

Beers in Review: Asheville-Best of Highland and Frog Level, plus Pour Taproom

Today will conclude the Asheville series with some of the highlights from Highland Brewing Company and Frog Level Brewing.

But before that, there was one other location I wanted to mention again, and that's Pour Taproom. Pour has two locations in the Carolinas and one in California, and they have a concept that I absolutely love. You are given a pint glass and an radio frequency tracker. You touch the tracker to the beer label above any of 30-40 accessable taps, then fill your pint glass with as much or as little beer as you like--the RF tracker tallies how many ounces you pulled. Once you're done drinking, you turn in the tracker which has kept track of ounces pulled of each beer AND the price PER OUNCE per beer, and you pay your bill. It's a fantastic concept, because you can just try a couple of ounces of beer for a dollar or less, or just pour a half of something high gravity/high alcohol without wasting beer. They had a good mix of beers too: locals, domestic crafts, import crafts, Belgians, ciders.

Now, onto Highland Brewing Company.


One highlight of this visit was their Warrior Series Mosiac Rye IPL, about which I did a video review already. We had an additional beer from the Warrior Series, the Tasgall II Scotch Ale, which was sweet and mildly boozy (checking in at 8% ABV). There were cherry and dark fruit notes and a slight boozy aftertaste. We also checked out their summer seasonal, the Early's Hoppy Ale, which had a slight graininess followed by nice tropical hop notes, along with some pine and maybe a hint of citrus. This was a really nice summer beer. I had also noticed that Highland was starting to join the wave of breweries that are canning instead of bottling beer. I don't know if that will be for certain releases, or if they are doing a wholesale transition.

Finally, on Monday, before heading home, I stopped at Frog Level. After grabbing a sampler of beers I had never had before (we only tend to get their top core beers here in Columbia), I took my tray outside and treated myself to this view:

A porch in the woods overlooking a stream. Absolutely beautiful.

Some notables from Frog Level included their summer seasonal, a Raspberry Shandy with mild berry and some grainy notes. I found it to be very smooth to drink and mild overall (to the point that I could have used a little more raspberry fruitiness, and I tend to not be a fruit beer guy). It's a very solid summer beer, though.

They also had a unique brown ale called Smokin' Joe Brown. I had had their Nutty Brunette, which I believe is also supposed to be a brown. Smokin' Joe sets itself apart with its cherry wood-smoked hops. A smoky and roasty note comes through in this beer, along a hint of cocoa and some nice malty sweetness.

Another beer I had never had before was their Shell Back IPA. It was a hazy orange color, with tons of citrusy notes, including orange and assorted citrus rinds. I found it to have a pretty juicy mouthfeel with a mild hop kick at the very end and in the aftertaste. With so much juicy citrus and so little hoppiness, it almost played like a wheat beer.

Some other beers I tried there included a chile beer called Cinco Ranas Picante made with local peppers, including Carolina reapers. I just can't get in to chile beers. I also had their Catcher In The Rye Red, which was fairly light with a nice malt-hop balance, and the Tadpole Porter, which was solid and tasty, but I didn't drink much of, for assorted reasons.

So, this concludes my "brief" rundown of my trip to Asheville, NC. To be honest, it probably could have been another couple of installments, but we'll move on to some non-Asheville beers later this week. Also, coming tomorrow (Monday) will be a video review from Paulaner Brauhaus, who have been making beer for roughly 500 years!

Beers in Review: And now for something(s) completely different

Thanks, John.

Today's review features a couple of beers that are completely different that what you will find in the standard beer scene. But we'll start with a very solid Scotch Ale.

Frog Level Brewing Company's Hopscotch Ale brings a whole lot of flavors together really well. A brown to copper color, and having lots of body, the Hopscotch hits first with plenty of malty and smoky sensations. I then encountered some mild earthiness along with some sweetness of dark fruits and a little bit of booziness you would expect from a Scotch Ale. Some caramel and toffee hints are also present, though far less prominent. Though this is kind of a more standard beer than the next two that will be reviewed, this beer is really tasty and enjoyable. Great stuff.

Next up is Cismontane Brewing Company's beer-wine hybrid, called The Mesa. The Mesa is 75% Pilsner, 25% Riesling white wine, and processed to highlight "the flavors that beer and wine have in common." (from their website) The brew pours a white wine-esque pale yellow color, and doesn't have much body. There are a whole lot of flavors going on here, starting with initial winey grape notes along with a hint of floral. There were also some grainy hints and an overall pretty sweet flavor profile, which I am told is pretty common with Rieslings. My general description of the Mesa: wine in taste (though, it is more than that), beer in make-up/mouthfeel.

Finally, 1 Brazillion Dollars from Against the Grain Brewery in collaboration with Morada Cia Etilica in Brazil (hence, the punny name). This is a bourbon barrel-aged smoked wheat wine, a style resulting in a high alcohol content and tons of flavor. The wheat wine pours a medium brown, darker than expected, and doesn't have a whole lot of body. Most notably, despite this high alcohol content, and I had initially been told it was 11% ABV, while the AtG website says 9%, the booziness is pretty well controlled. Flavors include some dark sweetness of caramel and toffee along with some smoky notes. There was a slight hint of bitterness towards the very end of the sip as well.

Beer in Review: A Winter Seasonal and a Brand New Brewery

Needless to say, when I think of pioneers of the super-hoppy IPA/beers in general movement that dominated a lot of the early craft beer movement, Sierra Nevada comes to mind instantly. Indeed, their famed Pale Ale was one of the first beers I ever remember having. Thanks, Dad.

When it comes to their many offerings, most of them tend to be very hop-forward, and their winter seasonal is no different. Their Celebration Ale is formally either an American-style IPA OR a Fresh Hop Ale. As in, freshly-harvested hops are used in this beer (typically, there is a roughly two-month window to harvest and store the full years' needed supply of hops). The result, like many of Sierra Nevada's beers, is a strong piney hop aroma and flavor, and a considerable amount of accompanying bitterness. Celebration bears a pretty full body and some malty flavors and a mild sweetness. Overall, though, this is another big, bold, hoppy beer from Sierra Nevada.

Frog Level Brewing Company is a brewery that I had NEVER heard of before, and they made a good first impression with their Nutty Brunette. Or, it may be listed as Nutty Brew-nette, I saw both. It probably just depends on your personal predilection for puns.

Nutty Brunette is a very flavorful brown ale that has a lot going on. While there is a little bit of hoppiness and a considerable amount of malts, the major player is the "Nutty" portion of the beer's name. Roasted nuts are the overlying flavor, along with some bready or crackery notes and not a whole lot of body.

I got burned on my conjecture of distribution previously, so I will just reiterate this was my first experience with Frog Level, and I hope to try more of their selections.