Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, MD once of Denver, CO has brewed a number of beer styles over the years, and have had some pretty impressive results. Flying Dog beers have been in my market for the longest time, but for whatever reason, I don't drink them as often as I should. The pick of the litter for me is their seasonal release, Horn Dog.
This beer is a barleywine by style, and to my tastes is styled after those West Coast examples like Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot, and Rogue's Old Crustacean. There is lots of good sweet and caramel malt flavors in this beer, but that is balanced with lots of good citric PNW hop character as well. These beer are both malty and hoppy, where traditional Engish barleywines and old ales are very malt accented beers to the point of being cloying. Horn Dog has lots of great malt flavor but has that hoppy edge as well.
Horn Dog Barleywine Style Ale pours to a murky, deep garnet color with a bubbly tan head, and a soft carbonation. The nose on this beer is wonderful, with lots of good sweet malty aromas, some estery fruity aromas of plum, a good smack of citric hop aroma, and just a hint of alcohol strength. The palate is very soft, with a lean body for such a big beer. Lots of good sweet and caramel malt flavors pair with jammy/plummy flavors of esters. Horn Dog finishes with more of those malty and fruity flavors up front, then ends with a nice citric hop burst, and a slightly warming burn.
This is a very well done West Coast style barleywine with lots of good malt and hop character. The brewery says its styled after an English barleywine, but this beer as a little too much hop character, and the beer geek in me has to put it more in the West Coast subset of the style. The beer lover in me does not care what you call it, this is a good beer. This beer is very drinkable, and you could get into some trouble with this one. From its soft and lean body, you would never guess this beer is 10% abv. This dog has a lot of bark, but it also has a lot of bite, so beware of the dog.
I really enjoyed this beer, and loved the funky art work on the bottle that Flying Dog is so famous for. Horn Dog is a crazy looking creature, across between a dog and a dinosaur, with a big horn in the middle of its head. This beer makes the perfect beer to have after a long day at work to sit and relax with, or a beer to sip with reading a book or the paper before bedtime. It is a limited seasonal release that comes in 4 packs(12 oz bottles) which retail for about $6-$8 depending on your market. For more information visit the brewery's site at: www.flyingdogales.com
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