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Bad Frog Beer
Bad Frog Brewing, Evansville, IN, and Rose City, MI

by Markian Gooley

Appeals on the label to patriotism, union solidarity, environmentalism, and so on usually mean that the beer in the bottle is bad. Bad Frog Beer has a frog flipping the bird at the drinker with one of its forefeet, and a spate of trademarked phrases: "An amphibian with an attitude," "He just don't care," "Turning BAD into good," and "The beer so's BAD."

We also learn that Bad Frog merchandise is available -- "call for catalog," that the beer is supposedly "brewed from specially selected barley and hops" and is therefore legal under the old German purity law, it is "award winning," and that it is a "rich, golden amber lager." The frog also shows up on the bottle cap, twice on the neck label, and again on a back label.

With five frogs, four flippings of the bird, and a Koch-like statement and reproduced signature from the brewing company's president on the neck label (as with Sam Adams beers) -- and enough hype and TMs for half a dozen products -- can this beer be any good?

It's a pale orange-brown, and it smells of hops -- the Saaz hops of the usual would-be Pilsner lager -- also of alcohol and faintly of malt. An initial sip of a cold Bad Frog was cleanly bitter, with aggressive carbonation and some hop (Saaz?) flavor. There's an odd aftertaste, though, as of adjuncts. (Perhaps my bottles are stale: I bought them in Lander, Wyoming, where they might have sat for a long time, and I can detect no notch or mark on the row of months at one edge of the main label. Only later did I learn that Lander has its own brewpub.)

A little more malt could help: as the beer warms, a scent of malt shows up, and the balance is a little better, but there's still that "off" flavor. There's some malt stickiness as well, more than I expected from the taste. Perhaps it's just that I associate the taste and smell of Saaz hops with mass-market North American lagers, and I'm imagining something that's not there, but perhaps not.

All in all, Bad Frog Lager is drinkable, if better served near a cool room temperature than fresh out of the refrigerator, but it strikes me as an uninspired, slightly flawed copy of a Pilsner. The frogs on the label are droll, and I suppose that Bad Frog shirts and caps might appeal to rebellious pubescent boys, but I'm adding hype and funny slogans to the warning signs for a disappointing beer.

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