Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dead Frog Brewery - Have they been resurrected?

It’s no secret that Dead Frog Brewery in Aldergrove, BC has had its ups and downs over the years. The brewery opened in January 2006 and over the years, many a brewer has come and gone. This isn’t necessarily unique to Dead Frog but they seem to have had more than their fair share of new Brewmasters.

Dead Frog has been known for some good brewers, but it was rumoured that brewers weren’t being given much creative freedom by management. Thus, they may have been brewing beers they didn’t particularly like or support.

Beers such as Pepper Lime Lager and Mandarin Orange were produced, marketed to death and were sold in clear bottles. I says pardon? They did package their beers in closed boxes to hopefully avoid them becoming light struck, but still – why clear bottles? Unusual for a craft brewer. Sleemens Breweries even sued them in 2008 for using clear bottles with raised lettering (Dead Frog eventually won this battle), but they continued to use them.
 
Marketing told us to “Do It Froggy Style” and that “Nothing Goes Down Like a Cold Dead Frog”. If you’re so inclined, you can get various froggy paraphernalia to wear – including underwear. Lots of effort seemed to go into marketing for this craft brewer.

In 2012, there was the Big Decision reality show, which ultimately didn’t result in any money exchanging hands. Soon after this show, founder and president Derrick Smith bought out his partner.

And this is where the tides changed.  

Talented brewers Tony Dewald and Timmy Brown were brought on and later that year, Tony remained as the Brewmaster. The Fearless IPA was developed and it was good. Really good. Things are improving.

Gone were the clear bottles – replaced with brown. Two brownie points.

Pepper Lime, Mandarin Orange and even their Pale Ale were retired. For good. The only beer that survived the cut was their Classic Nut Brown Ale and I understand they tweaked the recipe to make it better. I think they mean business here, folks.

Things were definitely looking up.

With this, they introduced new year-round and seasonal beers:

Year-Round:
The Session Vienna Lager 341ml
The Bold Belgian Pale Ale 341ml
The Classic Nut Brown Ale 341ml
The Fearless IPA 341ml
Commander Imperial Stout 650ml

Seasonal:
The Festive Winter Saison 341ml (Oct – Mar)
The Seasonal Citrus Wit 341ml (Apr – Sept)
Winter Beeracle 650ml (Nov – Jan)
Super Fearless Imperial IPA 650ml (special limited edition)
Immaculate India Gold Ale 650ml (Aug – Dec)
Valiant Belgian Ale 650ml (Mar – Aug)
Citra IPA 650ml
Brazen Northwest Ale 650ml


I’ve tried most of the new line-up and I’m impressed with how they’ve changed. The previous business model was probably bringing in a fair amount of income, albeit not very interesting beers to some of the craft beer geeks. Derrick and Tony went out on a limb to change the future direction of Dead Frog. There was no guarantee that beer enthusiasts would try the new line-up but after a few good reviews, many gave them another try.

I can’t get behind the “doing it froggy style” marketing – wait, that doesn’t sound right, but you get it – as I don’t think craft beer needs gimmicky advertising, but that’s just my two cents.

I’m glad to see that Dead Frog has made a comeback and are producing interesting beers. Not every craft brewery is guaranteed to be good just because it’s craft, but one always hopes that the local ones are good. A year ago I wouldn’t have had much to say about their line up but today, there are many beers that I think are worth trying.

So if you haven’t given Dead Frog’s new beers a taste, try them. They’ve made great progress in 2013 and I suspect it will continue into 2014,

Well done, Dead Frog.

2 comments:

  1. Well said Lynn. I am quite happy with what they are doing these days.

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  2. Agree that their 22oz bottles and even regular lineup have all been very good offerings, I really liked their Festive and Winter Beeracle ones and have some others in the lineup to be tried soon enough. I do miss using their Pepper Lime Lager as a marinade though...

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