Hoppin’ Frog leaping to greener ponds
Some Hoppin’ Frog offerings have landed on our view table, mostly ranging from 20-22. Decent.
We’ve tasted the following:
– Hoppin to Heaven IPA – 21,
– Mean Manalishi Double IPA – 22,
– Bodacious Black & Tan Blend – 20,
– BORIS The Crusher Imperial Stout – 22,
– Smashin Berry – 17 (Nice aroma, strange taste)
Drink Craft Beer, You’ve Earned It!!!
Hoppin’ Frog leaps ahead – Microbrewery wins rave reviews, should double output with expansion
By Rick Armon
Published on Sunday, Jul 20, 2008
Brewer Fred Karm likes to say he doesn’t make beer for the masses.
Instead, he brews what he likes. What his family and friends like.
Bold beers bursting with flavor and, in some cases, high in alcohol content.
It just so happens, that’s what plenty of the masses enjoy, too.
So less than two years after opening his small Hoppin’ Frog Brewery across the street from the Akron Airdock, Karm is tripling the size of the facility to 6,000 square feet and preparing to double production. He’s even hiring a full-time assistant brewer.
Hoppin’ Frog â€” in signature 22-ounce brown bottles with the logo of the green frog holding a beer mug â€” is now available in six states: Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York. And Karm is hoping to add Wisconsin soon.
Most important to Karm, his beers â€” which range from $5.99 to $10.99 a bottle â€” are in the Chicago and Boston markets, and soon will be hitting New York City.
”So far, so good,” he said. ”We can sell everything we can make.”
Hoppin’ Frog and other beer makers are benefiting from the continued growing popularity of craft beer. Last year, the craft segment of the beer industry grew 12 percent by volume and 16 percent in sales, according to the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colo.
Today, there are 1,420 craft breweries operating nationwide, compared with 1,385 just last year. Akron itself has seen the opening of three breweries in the last few years: Hoppin’ Frog, Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. and Ohio Brewing Co.
Trying to stand out in a beer industry that has seen an influx of American microbrews and
imports on the local grocery shelves can be difficult. But discriminating beer fans are noticing Hoppin’ Frog.
BORIS the Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout is ranked 44th on Ratebeer.com’s Top 100 Beers in the World: 2008.
One reviewer called it a ”spectacular beer. One of those ones that you would kill to have available locally.”
It also is rated as one of the Top Beers on Planet Earth by BeerAdvocate.com, an online beer community known for being persnickety in its critiques. BORIS is ranked 88th on the list of the top 100 beers.
When Karm started the brewery in September 2006, Hoppin’ Frog had a stable of four beers. That’s grown to seven available year-round and other seasonal brews: Wild Frog Wheat, Smashing Berry Ale, Smashing Berry Dark, Gulden Fraug Belgian Ale, Silk Porter, Hoppin’ to Heaven IPA, Mean Manalishi Double IPA, BORIS the Crusher, and Bodacious Black and Tan.
The brewery expansion will allow Karm, who also is treasurer of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association, to increase production from about 400 to 800 cases a month.
He attributed his success to a combination of using distributors to sell his beer and making a product that people want.
”I’ve always been known for making flavorful beers,” said Karm, 44, a decorated brewer who has won numerous honors at brewing competitions. ”I didn’t want to tone my beers down for mass sales.
”I’m making these beers that are not filtered, not skimping on any ingredients. I’m using an approach like a home-brewer, where you make it for your family and for your friends. If I continue on that path, I’ll continue to make great beer. And people don’t mind paying for it.”
About 10 percent of sales are now made right at the brewery, with people stopping by to purchase their beer direct, something Karm didn’t expect.
The facility, at 1680 E. Waterloo Road, is a brewing operation and not a store. But Karm keeps a refrigerated cooler up front for drop-in customers. (There are no regular business hours, although Karm said he’s there most afternoons.)
Scott Vaughn, 43, of North Canton, stopped by last week to pick up some beer.
Asked to explain why he thinks Hoppin’ Frog beers are selling well, he replied: ”Because they are good. They are fresh . . . [Karm is] doing some things others aren’t doing.”
For details about Hoppin’ Frog, including a list of where the beer is available, go to http://www.hoppinfrog.com/ .