Craft beer snobbery is finally invading one of the last bastions for piña colada-loving, Corona-chugging stalwarts: the high seas. And checking these beers off on your Untappd app isn’t easy; the only way to try the new brews is to sail. Talk about a steep cover charge.
This month, Carnival Cruise Line has launched its newest and largest ship, the Carnival Vista, making it the first North American ship to have its own brewery on board, called the Red Frog Pub & Brewery. Brewmaster Colin Presby makes three styles of beer, and though they are based on recipes from Miami’s Concrete Beach Brewery, all three are available exclusively on the ship: a ThirtsyFrog Port Hoppin’ IPA, a ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat and a FriskyFrog Java Stout.
Granted, none of them necessarily sound like a maritime Heady Topper, but according to USA Today, Presby has a decent craft beer pedigree, previously working with brewing legend Carol Stoudt of Stoudts Brewing and running a brewpub on land in Reading, Pennsylvania. “What we're trying to do is make high quality, full-flavored beer,” Presby was quoted as saying. “I want this to compare very favorably to any craft brewery wherever a guest comes from.”
Batches are only about 200 gallons each, with the ship only making about 18 barrels a week. But even in those limited quantities, brewing on a ship isn’t easy. The biggest challenge is “ordering and making sure we have everything we need whether it is spare parts or ingredients or cleaning supplies,” said Presby. “You can't just call up and have something overnighted and get it the next morning.”
However, though the ship is only doing inaugural test runs in Europe, the brewery is already proving popular. If demand gets too high, maybe they can get a dedicated brewing ship to sail behind it. Or if they really get desperate, they can just suck up some seawater and start brewing a gose.