Brewing Beer at Sea: Meet the World’s First Cruise Brewery
by Diana Bocco
Carnival’s newest ship, the Carnival Vista, is the first-ever cruise to have a craft brewery on board. Not only that, but the RedFrog Pub & Brewery comes with its own brew master. Colin Presby, who’s at hand to answer questions, offer guided tours and tastings, tell you about pairing food and beer, and speak about his unique experience of brewing beer at sea for more than 3,500 people. We asked Presby about what it’s like to run a moving brewery and how this adventure started.
CRUSHBREW: What is it like to handle a brewery aboard a ship?
COLIN PRESBY: Running the brewery on board Carnival Vista is an exciting challenge. For the most part, the brewing process is the same as it would be on land, but we have a few additional challenges. The biggest challenge is one of logistics. Since the ship is always on the move, it’s not possible to simply order replacement parts or ingredients and have them shipped to the brewery overnight. This takes an extra level of care and planning to make sure we have the right things on hand at all times.
From a beer quality standpoint, we occasionally run into clarity issues when the ship has a couple days of rough seas. When our serving tanks are full, the movement of the ship doesn’t change much, but once the tanks get low, the motion of the ocean tends to stir things up.
CRUSHBREW: Can you tell us a bit about your background and your experience in the craft beer industry?
PRESBY: I began as a homebrewer back in 2006, and I have been brewing professionally for about seven years. I started at Weyerbacher Brewing Company in Easton, PA, working my way up from the bottling line. After a couple years, there I started brewing at Stoudts Brewing Company in Adamstown, PA where I had the chance to work with craft beer pioneer Carol Stoudt. Most recently I was head brewer at Golden Avalanche Brewing, a small brewpub in Kutztown, PA. Along the way I did formal brewing education through the Siebel Institute and continued to learn through active involvement with the Brewers Association and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA).
CRUSHBREW: What can you tell us about the three special beers served at the brewery? Do you have a favorite?
PRESBY: Our three primary house beers are: Thirsty Frog Port Hoppin’ IPA: 6% abv American-style IPA brewed and dry-hopped with a high impact charge of Citra and Simcoe hops to give it a solid bitterness and notes of citrus and tropical fruits in the flavor and aroma. Thirsty Frog Caribbean Wheat: 4.8% abv Belgian-style wheat beer brewed with orange peel and coriander. This refreshing beer is the perfect choice for sitting in the shade on the open deck on a hot Caribbean day! Frisky Frog Java Stout: 5% abv coffee stout. Dark and rich, Frisky Frog is aged on whole bean coffee and cocoa nibs to give it a well-rounded bold java flavor.
In addition, we have been rotating in some seasonals, currently Thirsty Frog American Pale Ale, a nicely hoppy traditional APA. My favorite depends on the day and the weather, so it’s hard to choose one I just think it’s fantastic to have a selection of fresh craft beers made right on board.