Trying out the Rail’s Beer Exploration Society
by Emily Anderson
Last Thursday I went to The Rail’s Beer Exploration Society meeting in Fairlawn. The Rail is known for seriously delicious burgers and even better local beers. Each BES meeting features beer from a different brewery, hosted by a rep from that brewery. (You don’t have to be a member to attend, just call in advance and save a seat.)
The meeting I attended featured Akron’s own Hoppin’ Frog Brewery. If you aren’t familiar with Hoppin’ Frog, I strongly suggest you check them out. RateBeer.com has named them one of the “Top 100 Breweries in the World” for the last three consecutive years. If that isn’t reason enough, we all know that supporting local businesses really helps our economy. What is a better way to help Akron out than enjoying a delicious beer?
John Humphrey, a brewer from Hoppin’ Frog, led an informative and interesting conversation about each beer as we sipped and munched on some fried goodies provided by the kind folks at The Rail. We jumped right in with Outta Kilter Wee Heavy Scotch-Style Red Ale – sweet, toasty, and warm with alcohol. This Wee Heavy was brewed with some rye, which gave it a nice crisp balance to all the sweetness.
Next, we had the Karminator Imperial Dopplebock Lager, a classic German-style that Hoppin’ Frog makes with ingredients imported from Germany. Similar to the first, but with lots of raisin and other dark fruit flavors. It was surprisingly smooth for a dopplebock — definitely the best example of this style I’ve come across.
After those first two, at 8.2% ABV and 9.3% ABV, I think most of us were feeling a buzz. Even in small glasses, these beers are no joke! John explained to us that their beers have a higher ABV (alcohol by volume) because it allows them to use more ingredients, creating a really “big” beer that has more flavor and complexity than is possible with lower ABV brews.
He gave us a bit of a break with the third beer, Gangster Frog, which is one of their lightest beers at 7.5% ABV. It’s a west coast-style IPA brewed with Citra hops. A great representation of this style – refreshing and juicy, with orange and tropical fruit flavors. John reminded us that while many of their beers age well, IPAs do not so they should be enjoyed as fresh as possible.
Next we had the B.O.R.I.S. Reserve. Most of you are probably familiar with B.O.R.I.S.(Bodacious Oatmeal Imperial Russian Stout), it won RateBeer.com’s Best Beer in Ohio in 2014 and 2015, and comes in tons of variations (aged in several kinds of barrels, Café B.O.R.I.S., a double named D.O.R.I.S., etc.) Unlike the original, the Reserve was made with Belgian Chocolate Malt and is much smoother.
We ended on Infusion A, a coffee porter “infused” with peanut butter. Peanut butter porters seem to be trending right now, but most of them are way too sweet for me. The *local* coffee in this beer cut that sweetness and I absolutely loved it! Infusion A is a product of “Tower Tuesdays” – an experiment in infusing interesting ingredients into favorite Hoppin’ Frog brews at their tasting room every Tuesday. They even take suggestions from customers, so get over there if you have a good idea!