What a great idea! A brewery on board one of the most modern cruise ships at sea. I was enjoying my first trip on Vista along with 3,954 other passengers and came across, of all things, a brewery and tasting tour! Well, like a shot I signed up for it and at $12.95 it is a bargain.
The RedFrog Pub on Carnival Vista is definitely an excellent venue for those who love craft beers, even without the added advantage of the brewery being ‘on site’. This is the only pub I have ever visited that has a beer tap at three beer stations that you can use to serve yourself (obviously by using your sailing card) but think of the convenience … you don’t even have to stand in line at the bar. Anyhow, yes, the brewery tour … I loved it and got to taste four different beers. Glad to say that because of the Canadians and Americans sitting with me – who didn’t like the beer – I got more than my fair share! In fact, a total eye-opener for me came when one of the Canadian ladies on the tour added salt to her beer sample … I’ve never seen or heard of this before! Colin Presby is the Brewmaster of the RedFrog Pub & Brewery and he ran the tour giving us some tasting notes on each beer and patiently explaining the process. We got to smell hops and even taste the nutty malted barley; Colin knows his stuff and loves to talk about beer. In fact, if you have a question you could just go and ask him without necessarily being on the tour, just buy him a beer …
The four beers I tried were Thirsty Frog IPA, a 6% brew of quality with a fabulous hoppy flavour; the Thirsty Frog Caribbean Wheat beer, which is a citrusy cloudy Weisen beer made with coriander and orange peel (perfect for hot climates); and Thirsty Frog Red, a fabulous red craft beer. Finally Frisky Frog Java Stout, a dark and rich porter-style beer with a creamy head. I loved them all and strongly recommend the tour … The Vista brewery produces four types of beer using recipes from Miami’s Concrete Beach Brewery, a subsidiary of The Boston Beer Company.
The Brewhouse is of a German microbrewery design on a 3BBL system that works really well; there are eight 200 gallon fermenters. Each fermented batch is 200 gallons and the Brewmaster has to try and make around 18 barrels a week depending upon the popularity of different beers (brewing takes about two to three weeks). Colin did talk about bottling some beers but this is way in the future. Most of the beer is transferred to the barrel as ‘bright’ beer (all except the wheat beer) and then served up by sparkler pump. We did get the chance to try the IPA fresh and direct from the fermentor and all I can say is it was brilliant. At the front-end of the brewery there are two German-made copper top glass kettles run by steam from the ship for malting and mashing malted grains at the start of each brew.
The tours are limited to 12 passengers and have proven to be really popular. Colin may well add additional tours on port days. There is also talk of running beer and food tasting sessions in conjunction with some of the restaurants on-board.
The RedFrog Pub & Brewery is a great place in general to ‘hang out’. During our visits we saw people playing deck quoits, dominoes and chess on the purpose-built tables, listened to live music and even got to sit in a rocking table and chair! Everyone always appeared very happy – nice atmosphere (nice beer … and the cocktails were pretty special too!)