Toledo man turns hobby into Black Frog BreweryWritten by Staff Reports | | email@example.com
By Dave Kubacki, Toledo Free Press Staff Writer
For 10 years, Chris Harris served his country in the United States Army. After three and a half years of honing his craft, Harris has found a new way to serve his community: by brewing beer.
In May, Harris officially received approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco and Trade Bureau to open his nano-brewery, Black Frog Brewery.
While the Brewer’s Association doesn’t have an exact definition for a nano-brewery, it has been characterized as an operation of three barrels or less. Sometimes used by larger breweries as a creative outlet for experimentation and new recipes, nano-breweries are becoming more popular for home brewers looking to showcase their brewing talents in their communities. For Harris, his brewing skills were sharpened on the same system as many before him.
“I was really looking for a hobby at the time,” Harris said. “I was coming home from work and was looking for something to do. I bought a Mr. Beer kit and a month and a half later, I was like, ‘Wow, this is not half bad.’ It just kind of snowballed from there. I started doing some research and reading about all-grain brewing. My first all-grain brew was just a made-up recipe and from there, I was hooked. I kept doing research and trying different recipes and people seemed to like it. I decided I wouldn’t mind trying brewing at a professional level.”
For Harris, choosing a name was essentially creating identity.
“I kicked around a lot of names,” Harris said. “Of course, Toledo is the frog city and I am African-American. I put the two ideas together and thought, yeah, that actually sounds pretty cool.”
Black Frog Brewery will join a growing list of breweries in the Toledo craft beer community including Maumee Bay Brewing Company, Great Black Swamp Brewing, Sugar Ridge Brewery and Black Cloister Brewing Company, which will be making its debut in Downtown Toledo in the near future. For Harris, it was important to figure out where he would fit into the growing beer community.
“I am a little bit different than everyone else,” Harris said. “In a sense, I’m trying to reach a certain group of people who may not have been willing to try a craft beer, while catering to those who already enjoy them. I’m starting extremely small. Compared to the other breweries in town, I’m sort of a child. However, I’m trying to fit in a little niche market where I can experiment a lot with recipes and customize more than some of the larger breweries.”
As an African-American, Harris said he sees and understands there is an opportunity to introduce craft beer to another segment of the population.
“I don’t think minorities have really picked up on the craft beer craze yet,” Harris said. “I’m hoping that is something I can bring attention to because it’s a whole new market that could be opened up for the craft beer industry. It’s nothing against Miller Lite or Bud Light, but if minorities are open to try different styles of beer, they may find something they enjoy better.”
Black Frog’s initial offerings will include a cream ale, a pale ale and a porter. In addition, Black Frog will release a whiskey ale quarterly, an India Pale Ale (IPA) semi-annually, and a Christmas ale annually. For Harris, the IPA may be the most special of all.
“The IPA is sort of a tribute to my father,” Harris said. “He spent 35 years in the Air National Guard so my idea is to have the beer called Flying Frog in his honor.”
While Harris will be starting small, distributing 22-ounce bottles (or “bombers” as they are called in the craft beer community), he hopes to continue growing and expanding.
“I would love to see this brewery grow and be able to brew every day,” Harris said. “I think people associate Great Lakes Brewing Company with Ohio as whole. I’m hoping people associate Black Frog with Toledo.”
Each batch of beer brewed by Black Frog will yield about 20 gallons of beer, the equivalent of 110 to 115 22-ounce bombers. Harris plans to sell these bottles at Churchill’s Market, Andersons and possibly Joseph’s Beverage Center.
Tags: all-grain brew, Andersons, Beer, Black Frog Brewery, Chris Harris, Christmas ale, Churchill’s Market, cream ale, Flying Frog, home brewing, India Pale Ale, IPA, Joseph’s Beverage Center, Mr. Beer, nano-brewery, pale ale, Porter, Toledo, whiskey ale