If a cruise is in your future and you love craft beer then the Carnival Vista is a great ship to call home for a week. As Carnival’s largest ship to date, it has everything you could possibly want, including a pedal-powered Skyride, the first IMAX Theater on a cruise ship, and its very own brewery. The Vista’s sister ship, the Horizon, is set to sail in 2018 and will also have a brewery on board. The RedFrog Pub & Brewery is the first brewery on a North American-based cruise ship and Master Brewer Colin Presby is the man in charge.
Colin began homebrewing in 2006 before beginning his career in beer with Weyerbacher Brewing as a cellarman. He then took a brewing position at Stoudts Brewing before accepting the head brewer’s job at the Golden Avalanche Brewing Co. He recently hired on Ronald as an assistant brewer from his home state of Pennsylvania.
Colin had five beers on tap during my visit. One of those, the ‘ThirstyFrog Red’, is brewed off the ship by Anheuser-Busch specifically for Carnival. The profile suggestions for the other four were made by the Concrete Beach Brewery while recipe specifics and the implementation were done by Colin.
The ‘ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat’ is an unfiltered Hefeweizen with light notes of clove and oranges. The ’ThirstyFrog Port Hoppin’ IPA’ is brewed with Warrior, Citra, and Simcoe hops that impart hints of tropical fruits. The ‘ThirstyFrog American Pale Ale’ is brewed with Centennial and Cascade hops and has a balanced malt and hop profile. The fourth brew is the ‘FriskyFrog Java Stout’ with gentle notes of coffee and chocolate.
Colin refers to his beers as full flavored, but accessible. He brews them with the novice craft drinker in mind. Typically, Colin brews 3 days a week using a 3 bbl (barrel) Joh. Albrecht Brautechnik dual vessel glass Brewhouse. Across the hall sits a room containing eight 6 bbl fermenters as well as the brewery’s cold storage.
To help celebrate American Craft Beer Week Colin brewed his ‘Miami Guava Wheat’ using 84 pounds of pink guava producing 100 gallons of tropical goodness. Carnival invited South Florida media and beer industry folks to the first ever tapping of the cask. Vista Hotel Director, Pierre Camilleri, had the honors of tapping the cask and did so flawlessly.
Also on hand for the festivities was the ship’s, Captain Andrea Catalani. The beer was an aromatic explosion of guava on the nose and thirst quenching deliciousness. It was easily my favorite beer of the day.
“I was drawing inspiration for this beer from the sort of tastes of Miami. We wanted something that spoke to our homeport. I’ve been really inspired by the Cuban pastries, the pastelitos, and the guava in that,” Colin said.
While on board a pint will run you $5.75, but Carnival has gone a step further and also sells growlers for $34.95. The 64oz stainless steel flip top growler comes from Brewsuit.com and is appropriately named the SS Growler. Purchasing the growler filled is $48.95 and a refill is $16.95. If you’re in a hurry to get back to the pool there are also self-service stations where you can get a 14oz pour for $4.00.
The pub is designed with Key West in mind and it certainly does have an island feel to it. There is plenty of seating and the folks handling the bar were as customer friendly as humanly possible. If sitting at the bar and listening to live music doesn’t do it for you there are also two foosball tables and two shuffleboard tables. You can also play Cornhole just outside of the brewery.
In closing, I would certainly look at the Carnival Vista for my next cruise. The brewery and the state of the art amenities would make for a wonderful vacation. So the next time the family brings up going on vacation show them everything that the Carnival Vista has to offer. There is literally something for everyone.