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Beer Review #210 Flying Dog Garde Dog

The Flying Dog Brewery of Fredrick, Maryland makes a ton of different beers. I have found the vast majority of their beers to be very solid and drinkable. Their most famous beer is probably Raging Bitch, and for good reason, it is delicious. I haven’t had a Flying Dog beer is a few months, but Garde Dog caught my eye. I really like the name of this beer as it is a play on the style of beer it represents; Biere De Garde. Generally beers of the Biere De Garde style tend to be gold to orange in color, have some bread and sweetness along with some hops, and they can have a farmhouse quality. I think the best way to describe the style is delicate but complex.

Garde Dog pours a cloudy orange color with a fluffy white head. The nose is super earthy with some strong wet straw odors. The farmhouse really comes out in this beer along with a slight Belgian spice. I was really impressed with the nose on this beer. It is complicated, but each piece is easy to distinguish and the aromas are not muddled like a lot of beers tend to have.

Right of the bat this beer has a very nice light touch of malt with is quickly followed by some farmhouse flavors. There is a slight Belgian spice along with some respectable hops that cancel out everything else that is happening. There is a very slight sour note to this beer, but not enough to consider this beer anywhere near sour. I really dig the malt in this beer. It is very clean tasting and has enough to stand out from the other flavors, but fades when necessary to let other flavors come through. I want to try to find a better way to do this with my homebrew.

I really liked this beer. It was very, very nice and well balanced. There is a lot of going on but they all sing together, not apart. This beer might get into my regular purchase rotation. I highly suggest this one. It’s not quite a farmhouse, but more of a “farmhouse light.” (more…)

Beer Review #160 Raging Bitch

Since I moved back east nearly two years ago I have become well reacquainted with the Flying Dog Brewery of Fredrick, Maryland. I have always enjoyed their beer and most recently enjoyed their Secret Stash Harvest Ale. Today’s beer has reached almost mythical status in the beer community. They had a naming dispute with Michigan because,

the name “Raging Bitch” and accompanying label imagery and text by renowned artist Ralph Steadman – endangered public safety and was harmful to any adult who might read the beer’s name on a restaurant menu.

You can read the whole thing here, but if you want the short version of it, they won claiming that their First Amendment rights were violated. Aside from the name, this is a damn good beer.

Raging Bitch pours a nice orange amber color with a fluffy white head. This beer is labeled as a “Belgian-style India Pale Ale” and rocks in at 60 IBUs and 8.3% ABV. The 60 IBUs and IPA classification make their presence known right way. This beer has nice grapefruit hops on the nose. There is some heat as well along with the Belgian spices. The hops really take front and center for this beer in the smell category.

On my first taste I was expected some major hops and I was right. The hops really kick in on the ending and wash out anything else that was there. Just before the hops crash in the Belgian spices kick in and add a nice pre-show to the hops. I honestly didn’t get a lot in the way of malt for this beer. The showcase is the spices and hops.

I really liked this one. I have been on a small IPA kick recently and the Belgian aspect to this IPA added some nice complexity and variation. If you haven’t gotten this one yet, try it out. (more…)

Beer Review #153 Secret Stash Harvest Ale

Flying Dog Brewery of Fredrick, Maryland has been putting out a ton of beer recently. Two weeks ago I reviewed their Dogtoberfest, their take on an Oktoberfest style beer. I have yet another fall beer to review from Flying Dog. This beer is pretty special in the sense that Flying Dog uses a lot of local and unique ingredients in the making of this beer that “celebrate the season.” The bottle only indicates that this ale is “brewed with honey and spices,” but that’s not the whole story. This beer also has sweet corn, potatoes, green peppercorns, and grains of paradise in it as well. It sounds more like an ingredient list for a meal than a beer.

Secret Stash Harvest Ale pours a nice golden orange color and comes with a fluffy white head. The nose is really interesting as it changes as the beer sits for a bit. I first got some grapefruit, but not hops grapefruit. Some distant spice characteristics then came in but I couldn’t put my finger on the exact spice (probably peppercorn though). Finally some fresh honey entered the picture. All of these odors really mixed well together to create something that I haven’t smelled before.

On my first taste the hops were again not present, but the honey really hits. It is a light flavor, but once you notice it, you cannot stop noticing it. The spices then come in and judging from my notes, I thought it resembled nutmeg.This beer has a Belgian quality to it.

This ale comes in at 5.5% and it is something that I have never tasted before. I think it’s a pretty decent beer with lots of things going on. The spices really start kicking in as you get further into the drink, but not in a bad way. If you want to try something totally different, give this one a shot. (more…)

Beer Review #147 Dogtoberfest

Dogtoberfest was a beer that I had tried previously to last weekend, but it really “spoke” to be at the Good Beer Festival. This fall offering is brewed by Flying Dog Brewery of Fredrick, Maryland. I’ve had a number of their beers and I have always been happy with my purchases. In fact, I have a few of their beers sitting in my fridge right now.

Flying Dog’s beer pours a nice amber color with a slightly off-white head. It is perfectly clear as well. The nose is very malty, with tones of caramel and some toasty notes. This is more of what I think of when I hear “Oktoberfest.” The taste is full of rick caramel. The sweetness sits on your tongue for awhile and then the hops kick in right at the end to cut the sweetness. A nice bready flavor presents itself after the hops and malt are washed away.

I think this is a pretty solid Oktoberfest. This beer would be the perfect compliment to a nice cold fall night. If the Phillies were still playing (I’m still not over it) I would be drinking this while watching the playoffs with my windows open. It is only 5.6% so you could have a few and still be alright. On a side note, I love the art on the label of this beer. Flying Dog usually has some weird stuff on their labels and this one is no exception, but it fits in with the Oktoberfest feel. (more…)

Beer Review #91 Snow Goose Winter Ale

I will appoligize in advance for this beer review. The reason: the brewery it is made at is closed. Snow Goose Winter Ale was brewed by Wild Goose Brewery of Fredrick, Maryland. When I heard the name of the town where it was brewed I knew that another brewery was located there as well, Flying Dog. Apparently Flying Dog purchased Wild Goose in 2006 and shutdown the brewery at some point recently. The reason, Flying Dog is so heavily in demand that they didn’t have the capacity to brew the Wild Goose brand. It’s a shame too, this is a solid beer.

I read a story that they are looking to find someone to contract brew the beer I am about to review along with their IPA. I hope all goes well for them because Wild Goose has been around since the start of the craft beer movement. On to the beer (that you can’t have).

Snow Goose Winter Ale is a classic English style Winter Warmer. It pours with a deep ruby to amber color. A whiteish head accompanies the beautiful color of the beer. The nose is remarkably malty with lots of toasty aromas coming from the glass. There is a lot of caramel in there as well. There are no hops to speak of from my nose’s perspective.

The taste follows the nose for a bit and then takes you by surprise. The nice malt flavor is there with plenty of biscuit to go around and the a really wonderful hop flavor hits home. It is so well balanced that I was taken aback. I was expected a nicely bodied beer that had some good toasty flavors, but the hops came in and dried it out. Lovely.

This beer has a lot more to offer than what the nose would lead you to believe. I love toasty beers, and this one does a great job of delivering on that promise. And at 6.3% ABV, it doesn’t rock your socks off. I really hope they find a home for this beer soon, because it is a solid Winter Warmer. (more…)