Hoppin’ Frog makes The Devil Strip Black and Tan as special limited edition brew
by Chris Horne
Two years ago, I couldn’t even drink beer. I mean, I could — there wasn’t a law against it and I didn’t have an allergy or anything — but if I did, I’d pass out earlier and I was already going to bed at like 9 pm every night. (Okay, okay. More like 8 pm.) That’s because I was working for The Man, so I had to get up at 2:30 am for a shift that began at 4 am in Cleveland. Back then, even one beer would make me too drowsy to stay up through whatever episode of “Parks and Recreation” my wife and I were supposed to watch next on Netflix. What’s worse, I always really wanted a beer to close out the day because I didn’t like my job and that frustration was always mounting.
Liz is a long-time friend of The Devil Strip who contributed a series of “Only in Akron” columns for the magazine, and she’s also the co-organizer of Akron Farm and Flea, along with Crafty Mart and Countryside Conservancy. She helped launch the event a couple years ago to bring a little life to downtown on the weekends. It’s evolved into a day of live music, great food, art and local vendors who range from Not Yo Daddy’s hot sauce to Gypsy Grace & the Vintage Goat, who set up a mini-version of their West Market-based shop. When she told me Fred might be interested, I almost passed out with joy.
A couple days later, I was sipping beer with the man himself in the Tasting Room at Hoppin’ Frog Brewery, which just celebrated its three-year anniversary. There I learned how Fred went from a musician with a tech engineering day job and homebrew hobby to the proprietor of a place designated as the “Best Brewery in Ohio” by both Thrillist.com and TripAdvisor.com, serving the “Best Beer in Ohio,” according to RateBeer.com, who also ranks Hoppin’ Frog among the Top 100 Breweries in the World. But we’re saving Fred’s story for the August issue.
I was in awe as he talked about beer, trying to figure out the best way to approach a collaboration like this. After a little thinking out loud, Fred settled on doing a black and tan, his symbolic nod to the dark and light that talk of the devil tends to conjure.
That’s perfect for us because I’ve often viewed Akron’s devil strips as a liminal space between two very different worlds, too — the relative safety of the sidewalk vs. the danger imposed by fast-moving traffic on our city streets. Likewise, I think of the magazine itself as a sort of bridge between the dark of not knowing what Akron offers and the light we try to help shed on the city’s unique character. Plus, you’re getting two Hoppin’ Frog beers blended into one smooth sip with this traditional black and tan.
If you can’t make it to Akron Farm and Flea on Sunday, July 10 from 10 am to 2 pm, or you just can’t get enough of The Devil Strip Black and Tan, Fred will have a keg or two on tap in the Tasting Room where you can also pair it with some truly delicious grub.