Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sailing the Seas Brewing Beer

I recently traveled on Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship the Vista. There are new features on the ship but the one of most interest to me is the addition of a brewpub in the Red Frog Pub. The Red Frog Pub has a laid-back Caribbean vibe and serves up the pub fare and drinks. After appearing on the Carnival Magic it is slowly being added throughout the fleet and has a collection of the region’s beers, including Thirsty Frog Red, a contract brewed draught beer especially for Carnival.
Colin Presby

The Red Frog Pub is currently on 10 ships with Vista being the newest and is the result of a unique collaboration between Carnival and Concrete Beach Brewery, a brand of Alchemy & Science which is a subsidiary of The Boston Beer Company.

The Carnival Vista has the first ever brewery at sea in North American based ship and has a unique 3.5 hectolitre glass brewing system. The brewmaster is Colin Presby who hails from Pennsylvania and has 6 1/2 years of professional brewing under his belt. The goal is to have three Red Frog beers on tap in addition to the Red and will be changing as he brews. On my trip there was the Thirsty Frog Red, Thirsty Frog Caribbean Wheat, Frisky Frog Java Stout and Thirsty Frog Port Hoppin' IPA.

A typical brew day starts at deck 0 where Colin mills his grain back into the bags after which he hauls it to the brewpub on deck 5. He brews double batches to fill one fermentor and that takes most of the day.

Colin says Carnival has given him a lot of autonomy but the job description is still writing itself but there is still a lot to figure out like how can he as a one man show take a vacation. Part of this may be solved when the Carnival Horizon arrives in March 2018 which will also have an onboard brewery. Having 2 breweries may allow a three brewer rotation among the ships. One thing he notes is being extremely organized having everything you need to do your brewing because there is no borrowing from another brewery or rush order at sea.

On sea days they offer a "brewery tour", for 12.95 you get a small group guided tasting with the brewer of the 4 Red Frog beers on tap, a Q&A with the brewer as well a small look behind the scenes and a certificate. You sign up for this at the bar with your name and sail & sign card.

If cruising and small batch beer tickle your fancy the Vista has it going on.