Thursday, October 25, 2007

Who Let the Dogs Out - Flying Dog Brewery

Today's blog entry is going to review some of the beers from one Colorado brewery in particular and this time I choose to review the ales from Flying Dog Brewery (formerly) of Denver, Colorado. I've heard some good reviews on this brewery from listening to the beer podcasts covering the 2007 Great American Beer Festival that took place on October 11-13 in Denver. I went to my local beer store and found a Flying Dog Mixed Pack in the cooler and decided to try them out. The mixed pack had 12 beers in brown bottles with a random sampling from their many ales. In this particular box, there were 5 different beers featured so some of them had either 2 or 3 of the same brand included in the box.

I decided to taste test as many of Flying Dog's beers as possible while I ate dinner and watched the World Series last night. My Colorado Rockies were playing and this presented the perfect opportunity to try some of the local Colorado microbrews.

The first beer I opened up was Flying Dog Road Dog Porter, a Scottish Porter (5.5% ABV, IBU's 26). This was the darkest beer of the sampler pack and I'm becoming a lover of darker beers these days. I was eating some steak tacos from Qdoba Mexican Grill while I tasted this beer and I must say that the hot salsa on the tacos mixed perfectly with this Scottish ale. This is a decent tasting beer that goes down easy. I really enjoyed the aroma of this beer from the Yakima Golding and Cascade hops. It is lightly hopped and wasn't heavy at all. Very nice! I'd give this beer a 3.2 out of 5 on the personal rating scale.

Update: Had another of these on Feb. 7, 2009 and the recipe had changed. It's no longer labeled a Scottish porter but rather just a porter. The ABV was raised to 6.0% and the IBU's upped to 30. Tastes even better now!< After dinner, I sat down and opened up a Flying Dog Tire Bite Golden Ale (ABV 5.1%, IBUs 17.5). This was a wonderful golden colored ale that was light and tasty. A bit more hoppier than the Road Dog but still an excellent ale. I ended up finishing this beer quickly. This was more of a summer-like ale and uses German Perle and Hallertau hops. I enjoyed this beer - smooth and would probably drink it again. I'd give this beer a 3.0 out of 5 rating.

Quickly, it was time for beer number three. This was the Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA (ABV 5.8%). Now let me say up front that I do not particularly enjoy IPA's. They are much hoppier and a lot more bitter than other beers. It takes an acquired tasted to enjoy an IPA and I knew the minute I smelled this beer that it was going to be a challenging experience. First off, this beer is rated an IBU 48 on the bitterness scale and uses a lot of Warrior, Columbus, and Golding hops.

Snake Dog IPA is dry hopped with the Columbus hops. When I tasted it, I got the feeling that I had a mouthful of bitter hops. I like a little bit of hop taste to my beer, but this one was nearly too powerful. The beer itself has an orange color with a slight citrusy aroma and the taste was what I expected from an IPA - bitter. I initially struggled to drink this beer as taste was not one that I was used to. I decided this beer needed something to counteract the bitterness. I had a couple wedges of Colby Jack cheese nearby and bit into that and chewed on the cheese after a mouthful of IPA. Wow, did that make a difference.

The cheese was the perfect antidote for the bitterness of the beer. I was able to finish the beer after struggling with it for several minutes thanks to the Colby Jack. Whenever I drink my next IPA, I'm going to be sure to have some cheese with me. This brew was one of my most challenging of the Flying Dog beers to review. I'm going to give it a 2.8 out of 5 and put it on my list to revisit again later once my taste for IPA's improve.

Update: 5/13/08 - I rated this beer prior to loving the IPA style. I plan to revisit this beer again. I'm now a fan of IPA's and I'll bet this beer stands up with the best of 'em.

The last beer I had during the evening was the Flying Dog Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale (ABV 4.7% and IBU's 36). The beer is described on the label as having "a shit load of Cascade hops" as well as some Northern Brewer hops added to boot. This beer definitely was a hoppy beer, buy not nearly as bitter as the IPA. This beer was more amber in color. I didn't need the cheese to finish this beer but was a borderline decision on having another one. Three of the Pale Ale bottles came in the 12 pack, so I'm going to re-try this beer again this week. The cascade hops are pleasant enough to smell while drinking it, but you have to wonder whether or not a "shit load" of them was warranted. It was 3rd on my list for enjoyability in this sampler pack primarily due to the bitterness factor. I'd give it a 2.9 out of 5 rating.

A day or so later, I finally got a chance to evaluate the 5th beer in this pack, the Flying Dog In Heat Wheat Ale (ABV 4.7%, IBU's 12). This beer poured out as a golden and hazy beer with a decent white foam head. The smell immediately told me it was definitely a wheat beer. The taste was not that intriguing to me as I'm not a big Hefeweizen drinker. The beer was not as hoppy as others and enjoyed the low sprinkling of German Perle hops. I imagine this would be a good summertime ale for a hot day, but on a cool fall evening, I'd prefer something a bit darker. I'd give this a 2.8 out of 5 rating.

So overall, Flying Dog has produced some uniquely different and tasty styles. I'd recommend the Road Dog and Tire Bite for you virgin microbrew drinkers, and if you like hoppier and bitter beers, you may wish to try the Snake Dog and Doggie Style for a change of pace.

Related articles:
- Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter review.
- Beer cellar aging - a short experiment.
- Flying Dog to throw Twitter party in Denver.

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