First visited home of the Little League World Series at tail end of April ’06 Western Pa. sojourn, putting family up in historic Genetti Hotel’s Bob Hope Suite. Across midtown street in an old red brick building with green awning lied tiny stoic corner tavern, BULLFROG BREWERY, a trusty pub that compared favorably to regarded westerly competitors North Country, Otto’s, and Johnstown.
Opened in ’96, Bullfrog’s exposed ducts, copper tin ceiling and green ‘frog’ walls had blue-collar saloon atmosphere. But the delightful menu and even better fresh beer selection gave this rustic dive class. Copper kettles welcome patrons and silver holding tanks backend the left side bar.
Had beer mussels with ale battered fish sandwich and remainder of kids’ ‘fapizzas’ alongside sour candied Fruit Wheat Beer (a veritable raspberry lollipop with tart apricot eclipsing honeyed wheat) and lagered Bicentennial Blonde (mainstream fodder reliant on raw maize-wheat acridity and passive floral hint).
These light bodied offerings merely set the stage for the truly superb cognac-fronted Old Toad Barleywine, a wonderful digestif served in a brandy sifter. Its awesome candied apricot splurge and juicy orange peel tang enhanced bruised cherry, ripe melon, and fig-raisin illusions belying caramelized butterscotch apple seduction.
In between, I quaffed frothy nitro-injected tea-embittered nectar-daubed Cascadian Cream Ale, bitterly floral citric-dried Lil Slugger Pale Ale (with its glancing tropical punch), caramelized orange-bruised fruit punch Inspiration Red Ale, and dry black cherry-bruised, orange-burnt, coffee-roasted Susquehanna Oatmeal Stout.
Before heading out, I was totally sold by exquisite candi-sugared, nutmeg spiced, floral-daubed, dark rum-finishing Diabolique Belgian Golden Ale and honey-glazed, prune-ripened, orange-bruised, caramel malted Atomic Belgian Dark Ale. Yummy!
Revisited Genetti Hotel and Bullfrog Brewery, November ’06, quaffing pastry-glazed, lemony-hopped, biscuit-buttered, raspberry-cranberry-tart Raspberry Wheat and tangy peach-orange-grapefruit-rimmed, spritzy lemon-licked, resinously pine-hopped, peppery-snipped Edgar IPA with bounteous Cobb salad lunch.
At dinner, returned to Bullfrog to down orange-pureed, cherry-bruised, licorice-blotched, date-fig-splotched, burgundy finishing Friar Frog Dubbel and medicinal, peach-grapefruit-ripened, mandarin orange-crested, lemon rind-embittered, Trappist yeast-endured Unique (a dry-hopped Belgian-American-mingled Pale Ale).
After seafood dinner, had cured meat-wafted, cedar-burnt, beechwood-charred, black chocolate-roasted, espresso-like elixir Smoked Porter.
Ventured again to Bullfrog April ’08 during my son Johnny’s pre-college tour daze. Tried moderate bodied fare such as bittersweet lemony orange, caramel-malted, phenol-hopped Endless Mountain Amber, musty corn-oiled, wheat-husked, floral yellow-fruited Billtown Blonde and orange rind-embittered, mandarin orange-clipped, white pepper-zipped, eucalyptus-tipped, mushroom-snipped Boysenberry Belgian Wheat.
Better were two full-bodied mocha-centered brews: coffee bean-embittered, lactose-sugared, black java-finishing Coffee Cream Stout and dark chocolate-malted hop-charred Chocolate Bock (with its luscious crème brulee, Kahlua, vanilla, and Godiva-Belgian chocolate illusions).
During post-Christmas ’08 jaunt, quaffed tart apricot-candied, tangerine-soured, wood lacquered Apricot Wheat and heady XXXX Quad, a superb Belgian-styled quadrupel with bruised banana and stewed prune overtones prevailing above spiced apple, sugared fig, and green raisin notes.
Thereafter, swigged Fast Eddie’s Pale Ale, a fizzy hop-dried stone-fruited light body with sour orange, leafy twig, and herbal-spiced nuances atop marble rye breading.
Stayed at historic Genetti Hotel across the street to revisit Bullfrog twice during May ’22 W’burg brewpub tour, discovering nine new brews and the ‘latest iteration’ of an evolving dried fruited perennial. I was drinkin’ with the Dead playin’ in the background as I conversed with owner Steve Koch on a hot ‘n sticky Sunday afternoon.
Given a sourer makeover, the current ’22 Apricot Wheat retained a dryer apricot-pitted tartness and lemonier tangerine pucker above a parched white wheat base.
‘Drinkable’ light golden ale, Photon, caressed its mild citrus spritz with moldy fungi mustiness and subtle herbage.
Peaty tea-like Hellbender Red placed dried fruit spicing and sweet chestnut wisps beside its chalky cocoa powdering.
Vinous black grape tannins and acidic citric sharpness dominated cherry-soured Flanders Brown Ale, Jong Bruin Kriek, relegating its black-peppered charcoal singe.
Sharp sweet ‘n sour mango juicing permeated brisky pine-hopped tropicalia, Mango Saison, bringing sunshiny juniper-berried yellow grapefruit bittering to its dry raw wheat rusticity.
Even more rustic, wild apple-soured Graf Saison, an aluminum cleared farmhouse ale, besieged its hard cider bittering with musky barnyard funk, dry wort herbage and musty green grape esters.
Utilizing tropical New Zealand hops to gain its waxy gooseberry-guava-passionfruit souring and lemony grapefruit spritz, Tank Gurl India Pale Ale, let mild cellar-like fungi suit the musty green grape esters beneath.
Dry Simcoe hops galvanized the earthier whiskey-malted grain base for The Elder Barleywine, leaving cedar-tinged bourbon, burgundy and port wining plus delicate raisin-fig snips and mild blackcurrant saucing upon its star anise-laced dark chocolate foundation.
Weedy black tea outdid the oats-flaked dark chocolate powdering of Chocolate Williamsporter, a dryer stylistic departure with miniscule sour dried fruiting.
Softy seductive Alabaster coffee roast and nutty espresso milking greeted Alabaster Oatmeal Stout, leaving mild oaken vanilla tannins inside its chocolate pudding skin.