Recently Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Company out of Akron, OH announced their limited release of B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher Oatmeal Imperial Stout batch #100. This batch is different from other batches of the beer. In celebration of the 100th production run of Hoppin’ Frog’s flagship beer, Head Brewer and Owner Fred Karm decided to play around with the base malt used in the beer.
Instead of the American malted barley that is typically used in B.O.R.I.S. Fred decided to use “the finest English Pale Ale malt” to celebrate batch #100. While changing the malt’s country of origin might not sound like much of a difference, bear in mind that each maltster uses their own unique methods for kilning, drying, and processing the grain. It should be of no surprise that English malts bear the weight of centuries of tradition and time-honored perfection of methodology. Most brewers would readily concede that an English Pale Malt will produce a different beer than an American or Canadian Pale Malt.
When I stopped by the brewery to pick up my bottle over the weekend, Fred Karm was present and he described the beer as being more sweet than the original and perhaps also lending some body to the beer as well. I also caught him make an off-hand remark to an employee about how they ought to try playing around with the base malts of some of their other beers. I like the sound of that…
With all of this said, it should be noted that this beer will still largely resemble the regular B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher. This is a good thing though, because the beer has won Gold at the Great American Beer Festival twice in the last four years.
The beer was meant to be a playful riff on the normal Russian Imperial Stout. As such, I poured it into a playful glass – a Parra Duvel tulip. This is actually my first time using the glass – what a nice way to christen it!
As with the regular B.O.R.I.S., batch #100 pours extremely thick and straight black like crude oil. A tall slow-to-rise head reaches to the edge of the glass and halts is ascent.
The beer is awash with aromas of bittersweet chocolate and ashy roasted coffee. There’s a slight notion of hard water minerals, and the beer is generally very smooth. Things begin to really shine once you take that first sip. Suddenly you are keenly aware of why this stout is called a Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout. A wonderful helping of hops bring the IBUs to 60, which is IPA territory, but also very necessary for providing balance to all of the malty sweetness going on in this beer. There’s also a really big hit of roasted barley in the flavor – which adds bitterness as well, and a dry coating mouthfeel to the beer.
Speaking of sweetness, lots of rich sweet dark chocolate and gritty fudge really assert themselves as the beer warms. One might also detect flavors of dark bread and caramel. But again, the roast is huge here, bigger than I remembered from the regular B.O.R.I.S.
Batch #100 drinks very smoothly, with a silky texture that is in no small way due to the oats used. However, the English malts are also playing into this somewhat I bet. Overall I really enjoyed this beer, but that can be said of any B.O.R.I.S. variation out there. It’s not hard to do though when the base beer for all of the various incarnations is a world-class award winning stout. Buy Batch #100 while you can, because it’ll likely be a one-time deal! I look forward to seeing something even more unique come about when B.O.R.I.S. hits the batch #200 mark!
I bought my bottle at the brewery for $10.99. While releases like this often wind up being distributed somewhat if the beer doesn’t sell out at the brewery, Batch #100 doesn’t seem to be leaving the brewery. So get on down to Hoppin’ Frog and give this wonderful brew a whirl. You’ll likely get to meet Fred Karm. If you do so, shake the man’s hand and congratulate him on his recent Gold medal for B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher at Great American Beer Festival (GABF). If you’re into this type of thing, he’d also likely be willing to sign your bottle, and possibly give you a brief tour of the facility.
Finally, if you’re looking for cool beer to try or gift someone this season, Hoppin’ Frog also has a cooler stocked with tons of great beer. All of their normal offerings can be bought fresh from the source, as well as some seasonals and rarities:
- Fresh Frog Raw Hop Pale Ale – their “wet hop” beer from the recent hop harvest
- B.O.R.I.S. Royale – this is BORIS aged in Crown Royal Canadian whiskey barrels
- Barrel-Aged B.O.R.I.S. – a personal favorite
- Barrel-Aged Naked Evil – a bourbon barrel aged barleywine aged on Belgian yeast. This beer won a Bronze medal at this year’s GABF in the wood-aged strong ale category.
- Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale – a GABF Gold medal winner in 2010
No matter what Hoppin’ Frog has something to satisfy. If you buy a case (12x 22oz bombers) you get 10% off. They also sell a limited amount of merchandise as well, and recently this was on sale for 20% off. If you mention the discounted price to Fred I’m sure he’d honor that if you were looking to buy a T-shirt or something.