The Beer Baron: The Flying Dog

When I decided to embark on this quest to try every brewery stocked by Luvians, and pair them with a tasty dish, I hadn’t counted on one thing: Freshers Flu. Nasal passages blocked, tastebuds shot, I was the living, snuffling embodiment of the poor soul on the Vick’s Advert. All the wonderful aromas of tasty craft beers stolen from me, I was to rely purely on my weakened sense of taste. Luckily for me (and hopefully for the pairings), the brewery this week doesn’t mess around when it comes to punchy, powerful flavours.

The Flying Dog is based in Maryland, USA, where they seek to embody their self-professed ‘Gonzo’ philosophy of standing “not only for extraordinary beer, but also for standing tall, doing great things, and not letting anyone make you eat shit.”

Their packaging is aggressive and distinctive, though they’ve avoided the taxidermy tendencies of their doggy friend from Fraserburgh, BrewDog , whose latest offering is ‘Ghost Deer Beer’ poured through a stag’s head.They classify their beers into four categories from ‘The Pack’ (their normal range), through to ‘Wild Dog’.

For an all round beer, complimenting the last blast of warm weather we’ve just enjoyed, I chose their In-Heat Wheat HefeWeizen, a German-style Hefe with Perle Hops. Like many Hefes, it’s a great one to enjoy sat out in the late September sun. Matching wise, banana and other fruit flavours would compliment, but cheese-wise, you’d want something with a bit of a tang. A Pear and Goat’s Cheese Crostini (like Sainte-Maure de Touraine, currently available at The Guid Auld Cheese Shop) would make for a great start to a meal. I focused on the slight spiciness of the beer, combined with the fruitiness, to match with the classic Pineapple and Cashew Nut Stir-Fry. In all, it made a very drinkable beer.

My second selection was a Belgian Style IPA at 8.3%, with the friendly name of ‘Raging Bitch’ from their ‘Canis Major’ range. The 8.3% strength wasn’t intrusive at all, although perhaps that might be the effect of regularly drinking BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA. With a combination of Warrior, Columbus and Amarillo hops, it offers grapefruit, but also a pine-like flavour lurking in the background. Avoiding the too often chosen curry/IPA match, I took the beer south and cooked up a big dish of Gumbo, as the cayenne, paprika and other spices, with chicken, chorizo and prawns all in a big pot of flavour, definitely work with this IPA.

To round off my tasting of The Flying Dog, I chose another of their ‘Canis Major’ beers, their limited release ‘Gonzo Imperial Porter’. An incredibly malty, bold bottle, I sloshed it into a Landlord’s Pie (like a cottage pie, but with Porter). The coffee notes of this Porter, combined with the mince, made a decadently glossy gravy, which set my northern soul aquiver. I topped the mash with some Isle of Mull Cheddar to get some tangy cheese contrast going as well. Unfortunately, I found the mouthfeel blew my tastebuds, so wasn’t a great beer to drink with the pie itself, although in the gravy was delicious, and as an after-dinner beer was perfect.

Next time, we’re crossing the North Sea to Norway to try the offerings of Nøgne, Luvians’ most recent arrival.