Flying Dog/BrewDog International Arms Race

Well, talk about being in the right place at the right time. 

I was enjoying a few catch-up pints with Andy Helm of Revolutions Brewing in Mr Foley’s last night, when Kirsty – other half of that scoundrel Dean Pugh – asked us if we’d tried any of the International Arms Race beers.

No, we replied.

Would we like to?

Yes, we replied.

Turns out she’d been gifted some and wanted to share. So,3 minutes later ,we were diving into the duo – after taking time to take in those gorgeous labels. I mean, really. Look at them. Johanna Basford has really outdone herself this time; if only Leeds’ civic owls looked as badass as this one. Gorgeous. 

Anyway – onto the beer. For those of you who don’t know, International Arms Race was a competition between BrewDog and Flying Dog to simply create the tastiest IPA – without hops. Both beers apparently have zero IBU; and the result is two beers heavy on the spice, as that bitterness has got to be recovered somewhere.

Flying Dog’s version was my favourite (Sorry, BD); it just had more complexity. Over a base of toffee and caramel there was simply a tonne of botanicals; Andy, Kirsty and I notched up White Pepper, Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Bay (lots of Bay), Pine Needle  – and a lot of fresh, lemony Root Ginger. The mouthfeel was fairly thick, but not too heavy, and  – dare I say it – I actually enjoyed it. This is a beer that lovers of Saisons and Wheat should seek out, at least to try – there’s a lot going on but it’s handled quite well. It’d make a brilliant liquor for steaming seafood in, I reckon.

BrewDog’s version followed a similar path but, for me, was just a little subdued. The caramel was much sweeter – almost too sweet – and the heavy ginger note overshadowed any other tastes/smells that should have been there. I don’t know what they put in it, but the overall effect was that of a strong ginger beer – great if you like ginger beer; not so much if you don’t.

Both beers were, however, pretty interesting and fun to drink; trying to pick out what’s in there before reading the label is perhaps the ultimate in beer geekery but hey – if you’re thinking about buying an IPA with no IBU’s and hops, then it’s probably too late to save your soul anyway.

Drink on, geeks.


About leighgoodstuff

Blog: I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

Posted on 30/08/2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I knew someone would like them, I wasn’t keen (see post) but we agree on flying dog being best and Jo’s label being fantastic at least

  2. steve – I would probably say that i found the FD one interesting! Not sure If i’d go back to either, unless using it to cook with. As an experiment – I’m all for it.

  3. John Clarke

    A few of us tried these (on draft) at BrewDog Manchester last Saturday. Consensus was they were both pretty grim with the BD version at least having the saving grace of being almost tasteless. The Flying Dog version was just horrible we thought – sharp and unpleasant. Mind you, as I commented at the time, if it had been put in front of me and explained it was some sort of Belian-style sour ale I might have approached it with a different mindset and found it at least tolerable. As it is – big thumbs down to both of these – perhaps they perform better out of the bottle?

    • An interesting experiment, john? Someone would have brewed something like this eventually, right?

      • John Clarke

        Well, in the current climate most things are going to be brewed at some stage. Doesn’t necessarily make them good ideas though.

      • You don’t know if it’s good until done, John! Not disagreeing with you, just trying to get across that although not massively successful, I enjoy the spirit in which collaborations like this are played out.

%d bloggers like this: