Profile by Ken Carman
In the 90s I was touring northeast Ohio and decided to pop into the Thirsty Dog on the northwest side of Akron, back when The Dogs were a small Ohio brewpub chain. Often, after performing as an entertainer, I would stop and write something about what happened during the show. Honestly? It was an excuse to try local cuisine and good beer.
I sat at the bar and asked what they had that was hoppy. I sighed to myself when I heard the answer, “Only an ‘ESB?'” A moment later the tender came back and I sipped a little, wrote a little and… “wait, there’s another hop in here…” wrote a little, and… “Damn, another hop!”
That ESB literally unfolded one hop at a time as it warmed. I immediately asked if the brewer was in. It takes talent, a knowledge of brew science and hops to do that. While I have had some incredibly great hopped up beers over the years, no other brewer’s beer has come close to that amazing experience since.
Fred Karm: short, black hair, beer/brew hyper in an absolutely pleasing way for those of us fascinated with the craft, looks a bit different than the picture from Hoppin Frog’s web site. In fact, if you’ve ever seen Warehouse 13 on SyFy, Stargate SG-1, Unforgiven or Rush Hour 2, he looks a lot these days like the picture of a young Saul Rubinek you see to your right. The height is about right too. I found it a bit spooky.
Last year I wrote a Brew Biz column on Ohio brewer Tim Rastetter and the new Thirsty Dog; my second interview with Tim over the years, and asked Tim what ever happened to Fred. He told me he was at Hoppin Frog. I should have known: I’m a giant fan of extreme beers and have given out samples of B.O.R.I.S., their Russian Imperial, at my two yearly summer beer tastings in Beaver River Station, NY, and at Big Bob’s Barley Wine Bash on Pensacola Beach every September.
Of course I did. How could I resist sharing a beer with a fascinating name, label and such a grand savor: all before I knew it was a GABF Gold Medal winner in 2008?
I promised Fred I would come back and do a Brew Biz on Hoppin Frog in June. Right now they’re expanding and pictures simply wouldn’t do it justice. It may be August, depending upon my schedule. I will stop by though.