Frog Level to release new brew Feb. 25

By Jessi Stone Guide editor | Feb 19, 2014
Taylor Rogers, Clark Williams and Heidi Dunkelberg have collaborated on a new beer for Frog Level Brewing.

After weeks of anticipation, Frog Level Brewing Company will release its newest brew, Frog P, on Tuesday, Feb. 25.

Media is invited to taste the new beer at 5 p.m. Feb. 25 before the release party begins at 5:30 p.m. There will be live music and food catered for the special, historic event.

For the first time ever, a commercial brewery is using hops grown in Haywood County to produce a one-of-a-kind beer. While craft brewing is an exploding industry in western North Carolina, local brewers typically have to get their hops from other regions due to the difficulty of growing vast amounts here in North Carolina.

It has taken several years for Heidi Dunkelberg, co-owner of Coffee Cup Café in Clyde, to grow enough hops to partner with Frog Level brewers Clark Williams and Taylor Rogers for this new brew.

On Jan. 29, Dunkelberg delivered between 4 to 5 pounds of Chinook, Cascade, Crystal and Nugget hops to Frog Level that she grew on H&K Farm Hop Yard in the Beaverdam community. Her hops will produce about 30 kegs or 150 gallons of beer, which will hopefully be on tap toward the end of the month.

After seeing the variety and amount of hops she had, Williams said he and Rogers decided to make an American Pale Ale brew, which has been aptly named “Frog P.” But don’t let the name scare you — the fragrant hops set the stage for a delicious pint.

“These hops are not the same as hops grown out West or anywhere else in the world because we have a different climate and soil than anywhere else,” Dunkelberg said.

Just like grapes picked for wine, the taste will differ depending on the amount of precipitation that season, the elevation and the time they were picked from the vine. When asked how she knew when it was time to pick the hops, Dunkelberg said she just made her best judgment call based on her experience checking on them each day and smelling the buds.

But these aren’t just local hops — these are high-quality, local hops, and Dunkelberg has an official report that says so. Appalachian State University has an enology lab that tests alpha and beta acid content, moisture content and dry matter in hops. She was given high marks in each category for the hops she sent to be tested from her farm.

“In other words, she was doing it right,” Williams joked. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t be using them.”