As the owner and award-winning brewmaster at Hoppin' Frog Brewery, Fred Karm knows that making great beer starts with great water.
And Akron water has been very good to Hoppin' Frog — a brewery ranked each year among the top 100 in the world by RateBeer.com and a five-time winner at the Great American Beer Festival.
As a thank you to its public water supplier, the Akron brewery is releasing Rockwell Imperial Pilsner, a Bohemian-style lager that celebrates the Akron Water Department and the city's Lake Rockwell reservoir in Portage County.
"We appreciate what they do," Karm said. "They make awesome water. We've made awesome beer with their water for so long and we owe a lot to them. Water is such an important part of the brewing process and a lot of people tend to ignore it."
The limited-release Rockwell Imperial Pilsner, which clocks in at 7 percent alcohol by volume, will be available on draft and in 22-ounce bottles starting at 3 p.m. March 30 at the brewery, 1680 E. Waterloo Road. The release coincides with the anniversary of the city buying the privately owned water plant on April 1, 1912.
Lake Rockwell, located in Franklin Township and Streetsboro, was constructed in 1915. It serves as Akron's primary source of drinking water.
The Rockwell Imperial Pilsner label features an image of the city's water mascot "Willing Water," whose head is a water drop, and the phrase "Celebrating the Akron Water Department!" The bottles will sell for $6.99.
The special beer was born out of a conversation between Karm and Mayor Dan Horrigan's chief of staff James Hardy. Karm said they were chatting when the talk turned to water and the brewery owner expressed his appreciation for city water.
City officials are tickled with the beer, especially because it's rare for the workers to be recognized in such a way.
"This is a nice little tribute to them and all the hard work they do," Horrigan said. "Water is an essential part of life but it’s also an essential part of beer."
Rockwell Imperial Pilsner is the first-ever pilsner made by Hoppin' Frog, a brewery known for its high-alcohol and flavorful beers such as B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout. Karm said the beer will be sold exclusively at the brewery at first, and then distributed on a limited basis to select beer retailers in the Akron area.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his daily beer blog at www.ohio.com/beer. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.