Chris Frey

It seems appropriate that for GABF weekend we have someone from the Brewer’s Association represent.  Chris Frey is not only the Committee Chair but also a Board Designate.  With Chris we find proof that a love of great beer can lead you to great adventure. 

I won’t spend too much of your time here flapping my gums.  Probably a good thing because Chris is bursting at the seams with a story to tell.

1.                  What was the beer moment, when you knew you wanted to become involved with the craft beer renaissance?

In 1994, when I first moved to Michigan from the East Coast, I was staying at a relocation apartment on Grand River, near I-275. As the weeks went by, I kept noticing “party stores” everywhere. Having none out East, I kept wondering how many birthdays, graduations and other special events could people in Michigancelebrate and keep these balloon stores open?


One day I was taking a walk, and as I was passing one I stopped in to check it out. When I entered and saw the liquor, beer & wine it hit me – dude, party store!


As I checked out the store, I picked up a bottle of Chimay Cent Cinq. Unfamiliar with beer, I saw the price of $9.95 and laughed out loud. The owner heard me and asked what I was laughing about.


I said “Man, you must have some pretty drunk people coming in, paying ten bucks for a forty!” He sighed and then asked how much I might pay if he told me that was a bottle of one of the worlds best wines or single malts? Hundreds, no, thousands I responded.


He asked me a few questions and then told me a few details about the 750ml bottle I was holding. He then made me an offer that changed my life. He told me to buy the bottle and take it home. If I didn’t like it, he would refund me, no questions asked. But he would keep a dime for the deposit. That is when I learned about this particular Michiganrule.


That night I bought a salad from a local salad bar, and I almost forgot about the Chimay. When I did, I casually opened and poured myself a milk glass (heaven forbid) of this golden nectar. It was my beer epiphany! When I returned to the store the next day the owner recognized me and asked if he needed to pay me back. I said no, he owed me another awesome beer. Long before it was coined, I had found my first Cicerone. For the weeks to come I stopped in 3-4 days a week, always buying one or two more special beers.


Maybe two months after this started, I saw a notice for the Fermental Order of Renaissance Draughtsmen (F.O.R.D.) homebrew club. Since I was enjoying this budding love affair with good beer, I thought learning how it was made just seemed like a good idea.


Back then the club meet at Traffic Jam & Snug in Detroit. I went to my first meeting and a gentlemen offered me a sip of his Chimay Cinq Cent clone. Having just become acutely aware of this brew, I eagerly gave him my glass. I was immediately stunned how close he had matched the flavor profile. He then casually wrote down his recipe and handed it to me.


I couldn’t believe that he would just hand me this precious recipe and he simply responded “that’s how homebrewers roll.”. I was hooked.



2.                  If you could have any beer in your hand right now, what would it be?

Well, so many have said that isn’t a fair question, as it is like picking one’s favorite child. Even if you have one, you hurt the others feelings.


Still, I do love Bells Hop Slam, and I would be hard pressed to be left with anything else on a dessert island. Except maybe for Chimay. Or ArcadiaSky High Rye. Or Sierra Nevada Big Foot, Ypsi Gypsy, Goose Island Bourbon Barrel series, Deschutes anything, Dog Fish Head 90 minute, Sam Adams Noble Pils, Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout…you get the picture. But I do love me dat Hop Slam!


3.         Can you describe your beer life in a song lyric/title?  If so what would you choose?
99 bottles of beer on the wall…
4.         Do you have a steady beer, or do you like to “play the field?”
 I definitely play the field. As a homebrew I have brewed my Nearly Nirvana Pale Ale recipe 59 times now. It is my homage to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but a little bolder, maltier and hoppier. Same ingredients, just about 15% more. So it is in my hand more frequently than just about anything else. Wait, that didn’t sound right…



5.         Crowded smoky bar or back porch watching the clouds float across the sky?
Back porch, hands down. My beer fridge is filled 30 feet away, my friends or wife are next to me, the car is parked for the evening, no tipping in needed J, the bed is close, the air is clean, my wallet isn’t even near me.


And the lame one…


If tin whistles are made of tin, what do they make fog horns out of?


Anchor Steam provides the fog, and an old Norse drinking vessel provides the horn. Alright smart ass, what do they make baby food out of?
Time for a pint…

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