Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hoppin' Frog - Frosted Frog Christmas Ale

Let me start right off by saying that I know nothing about this beer.  No preconceived notions.  No press.  Nothin'.  All I do know about is that my introduction to this beer was their seasonal pumpkin ale this past fall and I immediately felt bad for neglecting their wide availability in my area.  I picked up a few more bottles right away and this was one of them.  Today's review of Hoppin' Frog's Frost Frog Christmas Ale is rarin' to go!  Let's pour!

Aroma 9/12
Ahhh!  Finally a Christmas Ale that utilizes the "traditional" mix of spices.  I love a beer that breaks from the norm, but thus far it seems like all I had been drinking were those beers that dared to tread off the beaten path. This beer is a refreshing return to conformity.  Right off the bat, it's a mellow mix of sweeter Belgian yeasts and spicy cinnamon that has me thoroughly convinced this could be served for dessert.  I'd swear that molasses is present because of the color and dark sweetness, but the strong cinnamon makes it difficult to tell.  The ginger (which is almost citrus-like) and nutmeg hang back a bit, but are also present.  I also have a sneaking suspicion that a nice warmth is mingling in with those spices.

Appearance 2/3
The color on this beer alone could have earned it a three if the head were not so dismal.  The color is gorgeous and spans everything from tea browns to bright coppers, and shows tons of scarlets and magentas!  The high clarity lets the light play in the glass and the results are smile-evoking.  The head on the other hand is difficult to coax out, small when produced, and hisses as it quickly settles into a ring.  It didn't even give me time for two quick snapshots!

Neat magenta color and extremely high clarity!
Flavor 12/20
The caramel is given a brief show before the spices take over.  They are rampant!  Cinnamon is almost bitter with its strong presence and the nutmeg is extremely earthy.  The caramel malt is the only sweetness and seems to serve less of a purpose of flavor than simply balancing out the heaps of spice.  The ginger is all but covered up, but the alcohol is anything but shy.  A slurp brings out more of the Belgian yeast flavor and reinforces the warmth.  That warmth carries this beer into the finish where it becomes a bit medicinal and combines with an oriental trading route full of spices.  The Belgian yeasts are all but swallowed up by spices and can only be perceived by paying attention to the inhale while drinking.  The aftertaste is... oh who cares.  This is the hydrogen bomb of spice and hides almost any notion of a beer behind it.

Mouthfeel 5/5
It starts as a mouth-filling, über-smooth, full bodied beer.  I really enjoyed the way this beer filled the mouth and seemed to take charge.  In fact, it was the first thing I noticed about this beer, even before the spices, so it definitely attracted my attention in a good way.  The warmth is not camouflaged in this beer, but in a winter warmer I'm quite happy with that.  The carbonation is lively and sharp (though mellows nicely at the end of the bottle), and helps detract from the fact that you're drinking a bit of a heavier beer containing no less than one metric ton of spices.

Overall Impression 4/10
In case I made it vague, I was not pleased by this beer.  The spices were simply too much for my taste and did not let any of the other ingredients come to play (with the exception occurring in the aroma).  The color is fantastic, the aroma is pleasing, and even the mouthfeel is highly desirable... but those SPICES!  They make drinking the entire bomber seem more of a challenge (A cinnamon challenge?) than an enjoyable experiment in craft beer.

Total 32/50
I feel that this score is appropriate with the given system.  While there are no flaws that would earn it a score below a 30, the flavor is so out of line with my personal preferences that I cannot score it any higher.  If you love a super spiced winter warmer that has a nice alcohol presence, then this bottle is for you.  I actually mean that when I say a "nice" alcohol presence; I enjoyed the stronger tones in this winter warmer.  Upon finishing the bottle, I discovered that there is still a thin layer of residual spices covering the bottom of this bottle.  holy crap!  How much spice does a beer need?!?!

Hoppin' Frog... c'mon.  I know you can make great beer.  I've tasted it!  There's no reason to hide behind all this spice and such.  I actually want to taste your beer.  I do!  I understand the desire to make a strong flavored beer and I of all people can appreciate that.  I love a big, bold, flavorful beer.  However, it has to have more than one flavor.  "Big" and "nuanced" are not concepts that are mutually exclusive.  This simple beer seems to hide behind an intimidating veil of spice in the hopes that no one will notice that the behind said veil isn't actually the Wizard of Oz it claims to be.  I'm disappointed.  Although with such beers as Hoppin' Frog's B.O.R.I.S. and D.O.R.I.S. remaining unsampled (one of which is in my cellar), I hold out great faith that this brewery will more than redeem itself.

"Mama Mia!  Thatsa spicy craft-a bierra!"

No comments:

Post a Comment