Category Archives: flying dog

>2009 Review

>Well, it’s that time of year when I cast my mind back to what we’ve tasted, seen, and cried our way through in 2009.

My Blog of the Year spot goes to Thornbridge’s brewer’s blog. I like the simple design; the articles are always interesting and present a nice mix of brewing inside-knowledge, know-how, and personal experience. As a budding microbrewer myself, this aspect really interests me – I’ve really enjoyed following thier exploits in brewing and running a growing business throughout the year. For me, Kelly and the gang are always happy to share their experiences, which is again sometimes lacking in the brewer/blogger relationship. Blogging should be embraced by brewers – we are, after all, the beer drinkers that take time to shout from the rooftops our love of their product. And I do love Thornbridge’s beers – to me, they represent a vibrant, young, questing set of brewers who represent this country at the highest level. British Brewing dull? Not these guys. So well done, Thornbridge, and I look forward to drinking in 2010 with you – mine’s a pint of Kipling.

Other honourable mentions go to the ever-excellent Boak & Bailey, Zak Avery’s YouTube Vlogs (still effortlessly head and shoulders above the rest – and apologies for not making the TNP tasting – I was busy failing my driving test) and The Beer Nut, which is consistently engaging and honest.
My Beer Venue of the Year award goes to Pivo, a great beer bar in the middle of York. I’ve always said that York is a real hotbed of great, solid English pubs and beer – and having a little slice of international craft beer on the scene ices the cake, really. It’s very small, but perfectly formed. I’m going to find it hard to visit York without dropping in from now on.
Kudos to Leeds Brewery for opening The Brewery Tap, which brews its own Leodis Lager on site. I’m not massively enamoured of the beer, but I like the idea. What about a Koelsch for the summer, guys?

Beer of the Year – always a tricky one. This year I’m copping out with a tied #1 spot for Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch – which managed to be the hoppiest beer I think I’ll ever drink and yet retain excellent balance – and Nogne-O’s IPA – another masterclass in balance between hops and body. Thanks for the memories, guys.
Also memorable were Dark Horse’s Hetton Pale, Orkney’s Red Macgregor, Dogfish Head’s Johnny Cask, Taddington’s Moravka, Sleeman’s IPA, Stone’s Levitation Ale ,Meantime’s London Pale and Young’s Special London Ale, which I am finding is taking my addiction to one type of beer to a whole new level. Wonderful beers, them all.

Beer Event of the Year goes, without a doubt, to Flying Dog’s tasting, which happened at The Cross Keys in September. The full post is here but it made such a nice change to go a well run event, with great hosting by James Brophy, and meet so many great people who are passionate about beer. Thanks again to all involved. North’s Orval & Cheese day was random-yet-inspired, and The Barge and The Owl in Rodley ran their annual beer & music festival to even greater numbers than last year, proving that the appetite for family-oriented community beer events is still there. Well done, lads.

Next Year? Well, more of the same I hope. I’m getting married in September, and my honeymoon will take in Milan, Florence, Venice and Verona – so I’m hoping to finally fill that black hole I have in my knowledge about Italian Craft beer. If anyone has any pointers for me, drop me an email. Can’t wait.

>Meet The Brewer: Matt Brophy & Flying Dog

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I was lucky enough to be invited down to The Cross Keys last night for a rare chance to meet Matt Brophy of Flying Dog, their Senior VP and Head Brewer. Events like this can often go the way of Beer Festivals; when done right, they can be great chances to meet people you admire and sample beer in a great setting; when done wrong they can be horrid, soulless, corporate junkets. Luckily, this event was done right. Good Beer, Good Food, and Good People.

Firstly, Matt turned out to be a genial and knowledgeable host – positively dripping with enthusiasm, he guided us non-stop through pretty much most of FD’s beers (details of which you can find on thier site rather than me list them all here), feeding us comments on origins, ingredients and other minutiae that beer nerds like us love, whilst we drank and nodded sagely. Matt discovered brewing through the writing of US homebrew legend Charlie Papazian, and decided that a life in barley and hops was for him. After some formal brewing education he made the trip from New Jersey to Colorado and, after a stint at Great Divide Brewing, ended up at Flying Dog.

After a small introduction to the brewery and the legend of George Stranahan, we moved onto the beers; in order, the Woody Creek Wit started us off, but in my opinion was shaded slightly by the arrival of In-Heat Wheat – tons of banana and phenols on the nose, and a wonderfully smooth, almost Almondy aftertaste makes this one of my favourite FD beers. Thier flagship Doggy Style Pale Ale gave us that benchmark US Craft brew taste right off the bat – boiled candy in the body and floral yet bitter Cascade hops dominating everything else. Old Scratch Amber Lager proved to be a sweeter variation on the same theme. Tire Biter Golden Ale was an interesting one; very pale for US standards and with a slightly belgian horseblanket aroma offset with peppery hops, it paired up very nicely indeed with the Seared Scallop that accompanied it.

I found the Garde Dog a little uninspiring, and Road Dog Porter, albeit very tasty and with smoke and chocolate in all the right places, seemed very pale indeed to what should constitute Porter in my mind. However, Kerberos Tripel soon revitalised my taste buds – what a great beer. Sweet, with a nice belgian malt complexity and earthy aroma, this was one beer that I didn’t want to stop drinking. But I had to, as the Horn Dog Barley Wine and Double Dog IPA’s arrived. Horn Dog, although very sweet indeed, proved to be a lot smoother and more restrained than I thought it would be, and the Double Dog IPA did what it said on the tin – this was one huge IPA. Dogtoberfest provided more of that smooth, easy drinking craft beer that FD do very well when not running off to the limits.

The beers just kept getting bigger. Gonzo Imperial Porter took me back to my first taste of FD all those years ago, and matched perfectly with the little slice of coffee ice-cream that accompanied it. As the night wore on, and the volume in the room increased, a couple of really special beers rounded off the night. Dog-Schwarz, a smoked double lager, was a revelation – I’m not a big fan of smoked beers at all but this was balanced so well, it’s kind of made me think that I need to reappraise smoked beers. Wonderful stuff.

I asked Matt whether he was planning to commemorate the fifth Anniversary of Hunter S Thompson’s death in February – he told us that although that wasn’t decided yet, they did have their own milestone – a 20th Anniversary, marked by Raging Bitch (gotta love those names) – which, as if by magic, appeared at our hands. The lady sitting next to me exclaimed it to be a true ‘Breakfast Beer’ – and upon sipping, I could see why. Pure, pure grapefruit – on top of a massively sweet, almost cloudy body. I guess it’s an IPA with a belgian twist – almost like loading Orval with a shot of IPA and masses of hops, if that makes sense – but if FD continue to produce this, then the world could be facing an Amarillo hop shortage pretty soon. The aroma was something else, and I’ve never come across anything so fruity in a beer without it being a fruit beer!

A great night, all in all. Tasting the majority of FD’s beers in one go like this has given me more of a sense of who they are, and their identity – which is what these events should do, but so often fail to do. My drinking partner, relatively new to the world of beer, came away a firm fan, and that’s one more guy buying good beer. Our thanks go to FD, North, The Cross Keys (particularly the waiting and kitchen staff who were, quite honestly, amazing) and James Clay for landing such a coup. Let’s do it again sometime.

>North’s US BeerFest

>My drinking has had a distinctly American feel to it this week with North Bar bringing over baskets of US Beers for us to taste. And taste we did.
First up, Flying Dog’s In Heat Wheat. This must be one of the few Flying Dog Ales I’ve not yet tried, to so get hold of it on draught was a great opportunity. Pleasantly refreshing without being cloying, it had a smooth, banana taste at first that soon mellowed even further, leaving a little bit of Marzipan behind. Very tasty, and very moreish. Next up, the much-lauded Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA – or ‘Johnny Cask’, as it’s more commonly known (Click here to find out more about the Johnny Cask System). I really enjoyed this – yes, it was a blend of the 65 and 90 Minute IPA’s so you kind of know what to expect – but still managed to become something different. Smooth, with only a little alcohol warmth at the end, and a balanced (although very fresh) hoppiness running through it. There’s a real malty sweetness to it too, but it remains citrussy and not too cloying.


Victory Prima Pils next – although I have to be honest and say I didn’t really think it was too Pils-y. It was decent though – lots of earthiness on the nose, and a high, astringent hop bite at the end of a long sip. Again, quite a fresh taste, although quite sweet. Interesting, and something I think I would try again; although I personally thought it had more in common with a Kolsch on steroids.
Sierra Nevada’s Smoked Porter finished my week-long tasting, with a subtle smokiness and chocolate to coat the tongue. With a bottle of Rogue Dead Guy Ale waiting for me at home, I will continue my US-Centric drinking well into next week, I reckon.

>’Village’ Spaghetti

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We’ve been to Greece enough times now to have a pretty good idea of what food the country has to offer. Imagine my surprise, then, when a dish I hadn’t actually heard of turned out not only to be delicious but quite new to us. Immediately after eating, I whipped out my phone and started writing what I thought could be a recipe for it, to try when I got home. And here’s the result. Yes, I could have asked the chef how he made it, but that would be cheating, wouldn’t it? My version has more Rosemary and Spinach in it for no other reason that I like them both…lots. Anyway, it’s named after the restaurant we ate it in, just like they do.
‘Village’ Spaghetti (serves two hungry people)

Spaghetti
About 10-15 sliced green olives

Four pork sausages, taken from skins and pulled into peices

Three rasher of smoky, streaky bacon – chopped

150ml Double Cream

1 tblspn Tomato Puree

1 tspn Red Pesto

1/2 tspn Dijon (Or good English) Mustard

Pinch of dried Rosemary – or fresh is better

Spinach – a good couple of washed handfuls

Black Pepper

Olive Oil

1. Get your Spaghetti cooking in a deep pan of salted water.
2. With a glug of olive oil, brown your sausage pieces. When browned, add your bacon and turn down the heat to cook through.
3. When the bacon and sausage is cooked through, season liberally with black pepper & rosemary and add the sliced olives.
4. After a further couple of minutes, add the cream, pesto, mustard and puree to the meat and stir through to create your sauce.
5. By now your pasta will be well cooked, so drain it.
6. Stir the spinach into the sauce and let wilt; once wilted, you can pour over your pasta and mix.
7. Enjoy.

This is one of those dishes that looks familar due to the ingredients involved, but turns out to be quite unique. As always, do make sure you use good sausages and bacon – and you must use smoked bacon. So do give it a try, you’ll like it, I tell ya.

I paired this (somewhat out of season) with Flying Dog’s Dogtoberfest Ale. This Marzen-a-like has sweetness, but enough slightly smoky body to compliment the creamy sauce rather than overpower it.
Cheers!

The Old Village Taverna is on the main street in Skala, Kephalonia. Do try. It’s one of the best tavernas in the village, and has great wine and whole fish dishes.
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