Bullfrog: Change is Brewing

In the recent invitation to the “Say Goodbye to Terry Hawbaker” party, it was announced that Nick Micio has been named the brewer to succeed Terry at Bullfrog Brewery. He comes to us from Fegley’s Brew Works (Allentown), and from what I’ve scoured off the Internet, he has a pretty nice resume.

Micio is a graduate of the American Brewer’s Guild and apprenticed at Russian River Brewing Co. Prior to his stint with Brew Works (September 2009-present), he brewed at Moat Mountain Brewing Co. in North Conway, NH.  Some of the beers in his portfolio include Moat Rauch n’ Rye (a German-inspired lager) and Lefty’s India Brown Ale (a deep brown beer with citrus hops and dark malts.)

He’s got big shoes to fill, following in the steps of some terrific Bullfrog brewers: 

  • Charlie Schnabel (1996-2001, owner of Otto’s Pub & Brewery in State College, PA)
  • Carl Melissas (2001-2004, who crafts such fabulous beers that we followed him to Green Man, and now Wedge Brewing Co. in the River Arts District of Asheville, NC)
  • Terry Hawbaker (2004-2011, moving on to brew for a new place at 1113 Walnut St. in Philadelphia, PA – first known as “The Grainery” but just last week announced as “Philadelphia Grain Exchange” now known as “The Farmers’ Cabinet” – where he will brew small batch artisan sour, wild fermented, barrel aged and saison style beers for 4 of the planned 24 taps.)

When Bob Koch, his late wife Harriet (1943-2010) and their son, Steve, opened the doors of Bullfrog Brewery in 1996, there was nothing else like it in the area. An explosion of brewpubs and breweries has cropped up in the area over these 15 years, and Bullfrog has kept a stronghold on the attentions of the eager public and beer enthusiasts across the country.

Despite the fact that I live 90 miles away, Bullfrog played a part in bringing my husband and I together, and served as a place where my family congregated to celebrate both life, and the ending of life, many times over.  People who know how much we love Terry and his extraordinary wife, Sam, have asked if this will be the end of our allegiance to Bullfrog. Alas, I view it as an opportunity for a the Koch’s to embrace change, for a new brewer to shine, and  for our dear friends thrive in their innovative Philly venture.

I can’t wait to hug Terry (and give kisses to Sam), shake hands with Nick (and possibly meet his wife Dorienne?), and celebrate with all of the Kochs on Sunday night!

Be(er) My Valentine!

Central Pennsylvania is a great place for chocolate and beer, and this weekend you’ll find two great things that taste great together all over the area! Last year my friend Barb and I set out on our own South-Central PA Chocolate Stout Tour, which included Tröegs Scratch #27, Iron Hill Oompa Loompa and Spring House Kerplunk; our big miss was Stout’s, with a Valentine’s special of Fat Dog Stout brewed with chocolate and cherries and served on the hand pump.

This year, I’m not sure I’ll get out to all of the events, but the ones I know about add up to a sweet line-up!

Tröegs is releasing Scratch #41 (aka Cacaoabunga Redux) – a chocolate stout with 50 pounds of roasted cacao nibs and a healthy dose of vanilla beans, Simcoe and Galena hops, giving it a described “blast of bittersweet chocolate and a rich finish”. This 6.6% ABV stout is another collaboration with Scharffen Berger Chocolate (featured in last year’s Scratch #27 and a subsidiary of The Hershey Company). There is a purchase limit of one case, or two six-packs and two growlers, per person, and like all Scratch beers, you’ll only find it on tap at Tröegs .

Iron Hill in Lancaster is hosting an event called Chocolate Beer Craziness on February 11 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm in Celebration of Valentine’s Day. It will feature five chocolate beers available on tap:

  • Overload Stout (served on nitro) – an Imperial Oatmeal Stout is brewed with locally roasted coffee beans and local Wilbur chocolate (9.55% ABV)
  • Shokolad Stout (served on cask) – brewed with Wilbur’s cocoa nibs and aged on Madagascar vanilla beans (9.6% ABV)
  • Oompa Loompa Chocolate Stout (served on nitro) – an English Sweet Stout is brewed with 35lbs of Belgian bittersweet chocolate, milk sugar, and Madagascar vanilla beans (6.5% ABV)
  • Cowabunga Porter – a slightly stronger version of the Pig Iron Porter, brewed with Wilbur chocolate and toasted coconut chips and aged on vanilla beans
  • Bourbon-aged Cowabunga

Spring House has Kerplunk! Imperial Chocolate Stout, made with an amazing amount of Wilbur chocolate and west coast hops (8.1% ABV)

Lancaster Brewing has Double Chocolate Milk Stout, brewed with chocolate nibs and added lactose with Cascade, Goldings, and English Fuggles hops (6.8% ABV)

Stoudts is putting on 2X Chocolate Porter, a porter created using “several types of specially roasted malts to give it a deep, dark color, with bold notes of chocolate being the predominant flavor”. (7.0% ABV)

Do you know of more? Add them in the comments – I’d be so glad to hear about them!

Taproom – Spring House (Lancaster, PA)

We made it to the Taproom at Spring House for the grand opening – a little late, but it sounded like the actualSpring House Tap Room - King St opening was delayed by a bit anyway.  And we were glad so many friends, and future friends, were able to be there too – that place was PACKED!

Today isn’t a good day to put in a whole story of our adventure, but I wanted to share a few photos, and simply state that everything was going smoothly!  There were 5 taps on last night – they seemed to change as the night went on. We had the G2 (a sorachi ace hopped version of Seven Gates Pale Ale) and Kerplunk! (a chocolate imperial stout), Spring House - approach from Central Marketwhile our friend who showed up much later was able to have Robot Bastard (Belgian IPA) on nitro.

The staff were handling things really well, especially considering that it was opening night and there was barely space to stand after 5:30 PM. We foundSpring House - Taps seats at the bar, where we could observe all the fun!

They are doing pints and half-pints, as well as growler fills, and I have yet to try the food.

My only disappointment…no purse hooks (bar fail!) Maybe they come later?Zoltar at Spring House

Great job, Matt!

Lancaster County Brew News

The Lancaster paper broke the news, so I won’t go into full detail here, but it’s too exciting not to share!

The Spring House Brewery, which has been operating since 2007 in a converted barn in Conestoga, PA, closed to the public after the weekend of January 15 to concentrate on completing the new taproom. If you’ve been following their Facebook page, you’ve been watching the progress as Matt continually reported.

Spring House Taproom is scheduled to open tomorrow at 25 W. King St. in Lancaster (Phone (717) 399-4009) with 10 taps, including Seven Gates Pale Ale.  The newspaper reports the a U-shaped bar, window bar and a few tables provide seating for 50, and large windows look out to both King Street and Central Market.

Dishes by Diane, a Leola catering firm, will provide the food offerings, and beer will be available to take out in bottles and growlers.

Spring House Taproom Hours (which were incorrectly listed in the newspaper):

  • Monday 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Tuesday  11:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • Wednesday  4:00 pm – 10:00  pm
  • Thursday  4:00 pm – 10:00  pm
  • Friday – Saturday  11:00 am – midnight

The paper also reported that St. Boniface Craft Brewing Co., a nano-brewery located in part of the former Doneckers Art Works building (100 N. State St., Ephrata, PA; (717) 721-1744) will open its doors for the first time from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm tonight to offer growlers of its Hegemony Imperial Stout. Growlers and kegs of Libation (a DIPA) and Epiphany (a Belgian-style Dubbel ale) will be available soon.

St. Boniface Craft Brewing will have very limited hours – it sounds like Saturday visits are the best bet.