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“Lucky Dogs” Get Private Tour of Flying Dog Brewery

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A few posts back I had written about the Hubster’s wins in our local Battle of the Bubbles homebrew competition.  First place won the chance to have their beer professionally brewed at the Barley & Hops brewpub.  But SECOND place (aka. the Hubster) won a private tour with 10 select beer buddies at the Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland.

We have since cashed in on that prize, and he now has his sights set on winning second place again NEXT year!  We had a rare and fantastic opportunity to spend half a day on a personal guided tour with two of Flying Dog’s top brewing experts.  For almost 5 hours, we had access to the brewery, professional brewing information, and of course Flying Dog beers.

Breakfast of Champions

The tour started off with a brewer meet and greet and liquid breakfast in Flying Dog’s tap room.  We became fast friends with our two tour guides – the two Bens.   Ben C. came from the banking industry in PA and worked his way through the ranks to become one of Flying Dog’s top brewers.  Ben S. is FD’s science guy, tasting coordinator, quality control lead and scrabble guru.  He has the awesome responsibility of ensuring that Flying Dog’s beers are always top quality.  I can personally assure you they are both doing excellent work!

We also tried a very unique beer called Keith’s Gose.  Unique because it is a sour beer brewed with Old Bay seasoning, intended to pair with steamed crabs.  I guarantee you’ve never tasted a beer like this before.  The only thing missing were the crabs.

The “Have it Your Way” Tour

It was our tour, our way, whatever we wanted to see, ask, or taste.  We went outside, back inside, past the grains, around the brew tanks, down to the experimental brewing operations, back up to the fermenters, stopped for a refill (fresh Raging Bitch Belgian IPA straight from the tank…ahhhahh), into the boiler room, over to quality control, across to bottling, on to kegging, upstairs to storage, past the hot room, into the hop cooler, back over to bottling, and finishing in the tap room for a potty break and refills.  Shew!  The homebrewers were in heaven, soaking in the beer data, tips tricks, stories, and snagging some recipe ideas.  The two Bens seemed happy to share their knowledge with an enthusiastic and fairly knowledgeable group.

Behind the Scenes Tidbits

They can recycle their yeast up to 15 or 16 times, depending on the beer.  And each generation spawns better and better beer.

There’s a hot room used to store beer at garage temps.  Ben S. has to taste these beers to determine the shelf life and durability of any given 6-pack after it’s been sitting in the garage all summer.  It’s a tough job, but at the end of the day, it’s free beer!

Artwork is EVERYWHERE in that brewery.  But the best artwork is on the labels.  All label art is designed by Ralph Steadman.  But the brewery art and murals are painted by local artists who have studied Steadman’s style.  Their reflective work appears in the entrance hallway leading to the brewery and in numerous locations throughout the brewery.

Who Spiked the Beer???

After potty breaks and refills, the two Bens led us into a conference room and Ben C. poured 6 beer samples in  labeled cups.  These beers were intentionally spiked with contaminants that produce common off-flavors in beer.  The point is, in order to produce good beer, it is equally important to know how beer should and should NOT taste.  It should NOT taste like creamed corn, green apple, butter, or circus peanuts (banana – unless its a hefeweizen).  All good flavors for jelly bellies, but not so much for beer.

Some large brewers intentionally produce these flavors because they appeal to certain tastes.  For instance, creamed corn is a flavor produced by DMS that actually appeals to a wide audience, and which you will find prevalent in some select and very well known commercial brews.

All Good Things Come to an End

We ended on a huge high note as Ben S. pulled out some specialty beverages from the secret stash, including side by side comparisons of their current and vintage Horn Dog Barleywine; their special Secret Stash Harvest Ale; vintage Gonzo Barrel Aged Imperial Porter (my personal favorite); The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale (stellar!); and side by side tastings of the almost released Fever Chocolate IPA, as it was supposed to taste vs. the production version.  Both versions of The Fever were great beers, but the chocolate flavors dropped out of the final packaged version, which resulted in a very tasty non-chocolate IPA. The original version is absolutely delicious and completely different – a full hoppy IPA with a smooth blend of chocolate flavor that totally works.

By the end of it all, we had two new beer buds in the two Bens.  We found our way to the gift shop, purchased current and vintage beverages and lots of swag, then hugged it out and made our way safely home.

I would like to give a huge shout out and thank you to the two Ben’s.  We can’t thank you enough for your gracious hospitality and generous sharing of beer knowledge.

Your Chance to Tour Flying Dog Brewery

Visit Flying Dog’s website to sign up for a tour or attend one of their offbeat events.  It’s a great time to hang out with friends, sample some stellar brews, and learn how beer is made by one of America’s finest breweries.

Cheers Beers!

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Frederick Beer Week is Back!

For more information about Frederick Beer Week, visit www. FrederickBeer.com.

It’s that time again!  May 12-19, Frederick, Maryland is all about beer (as it should be) as our fare city celebrates our 2nd Annual Frederick Beer Week.

If you’re not familiar with Frederick, we are home to:

Last year’s Frederick Beer Week started this annual event off with a boom, and this year’s events prove to be bigger and better with two beer festivals, beer dinners, beer happy hours, brewery tours, great music (some of it about beer), the Battle of the Bubbles 2 home brew competition, and so much more.  Check out what’s going on….

2012 FREDERICK BEER WEEK EVENTS

Saturday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday

So if you’re if you’re in the Frederick area this coming week (we’re just a 30 minute drive from DC and Baltimore), come join us for some great beer and tons of fun for big kids and for the little kiddies too.   We’ll see you there!

Cheers beers!

Flying Dog Unleashes the Wildeman

January 20, 2012 2 comments

Great news for hophead fans of the Flying Dog Brewery!  They’re releasing their new Farmhouse IPA – The Wildeman – in Maryland, Virginia and DC.

I recently took a growler of the Wildeman Farmhouse IPA home, and let me tell ya, the hubster and I were in hoppy heaven. Mind you, I’m not a hophead, but I do love beers that have a good dose of hops balanced with mild malty sweetness. The Raging Bitch fits this profile, and so does the Wildeman. Its a golden hoppy beer with lots of flavor, the smooth drinkability of a farmhouse ale, and a really nice well balanced hoppy layer. Raging Bitch fans are gonna love it, and many of the brewery staff have already dubbed it their new favorite. Hey, I was there and heard it with my own ears!

The Flying Dog Brewery's Wildeman Cometh to MD, VA and DC

If you’re in the Frederick, Maryland area on Thursdays, come to Flying Dog for a tour and bring your growlers. They open the taps up for growler fills on Thursdays, and its a great time to get a sneak preview and stock up for the weekend on their scratch and pre-release brews, as well as their full time beer line up. Their Raging Bitch Belgian IPA, K9 Winter, Gonzo Porter, Gonzo Barrel-aged Porter (kick butt), and Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout are just a few of my personal favorites.  And just a tip – the Gonzo Imperial Porter and the Double Dog make a kick butt black and tan.  I can’t account for separation, but the flavor is unreal.  There are at least 10 or 12 taps to choose from so mix it up any way you like.

If you don’t already have a growler, you can buy one in their gift shop for $5. In fact, at $5 a growler, you might wanna stock up on those too.  They’re like shoes…you can never have too many.   Stick around for the tour, its a fun (and cheap) date night at $5 a pop – includes tokens for tastings and a commemorative Flying Dog glass.   I love our hometown brewery!

If you’re nowhere near the MD, VA, DC area but you still get Flying Dog, then be patient.  I predict the Wildeman will gain a very quick following and will eventually make an appearance in a liquor store near you.  But then again, life offers no guarantees.  Grab your buddies….it’s time for a road trip!

Cheers beers!

The Craft Beer Snowman from Flying Dog Brewery

November 28, 2011 2 comments

One of my all time favorite beer commercials never even made it to television.  The Flying Dog Brewery  (right here in Frederick, Maryland) received this promo commercial last year as part of an interview from director Tim Martin.  He got the job!

Happy Winter and Cheers beers!

Frederick Beer Week’s Brew Fest Highlights

Frederick, Maryland held Frederick Beer Week Brew Fest at Stillpoint Hop Farm in Mt. Airy yesterday, featuring everything from live music, to hayrides, hoola hoops, pit beef and hot dogs, and of course local beer. In fact, the entire focus was everything local.  The brewery lineup included DOGBrewing, DuClaw, Heavy Seas, Brewer’s Alley, Flying Dog, and our own favorite, Barley and Hops.  Even our local homebrew club, Frederick’s Original Ale Makers (FOAM), held home brewing demonstrations and shared a list of 10 or more beers made by club members.  The highlight for us though was the tapping of a collaboration sour beer brewed by Frederick breweries from all local ingredients – great stuff!  Put this event on on the calendar for next year.  It wasn’t over crowded, the location was open and scenic, and the little kids had just as much fun as the big kids.

Frederick Beer Week Begins!

Today kicks off Frederick Beer Week!  Woo hoo!

This is a great week to be in Frederick, and this long overdue event is being done up right!  May 10th-14th will include lots of great beer events hosted by:

Here’s a list of the scheduled events:

Tuesday, May 10

  • Flying Dog Kick-Off with Chef Bryan Voltaggio – VOLT Restaurant in downtown Frederick
  • Battle of the Bubbles Homebrew Competition Judging – Barley & Hops in Frederick, MD
  • Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Cask Night – Bushwaller’s Irish Pub in downtown Frederick, MD
6 to 8 pm
Free Heavy Seas pint glass with your first beer!

Wednesday, May 11

  • Beer Judging Certification Program Tasting Class
  • Cocktail Beer Pairings – Brewer’s Alley in downtown Frederick, MD

Thursday, May 12

  • Alive @ Five Happy Hour – Carroll Creek Amphitheater in downtown Frederick, MD
5 to 8 pm
$5 cover, featuring Brewer’s Alley beer (added cost)
  • Heavy Seas Firkin Night – Mt. Airy Inn in Mt. Airy, MD
Time: 6 to 8 pm
Free Heavy Seas pint glass with your first beer!
  • Alive @ Five After-Party with Flying Dog – Greene Turtle in downtown Frederick, MD
7 pm to close
Flying Dog on draft and on cask
featuring an in-bar scavenger hunt with prizes

Friday, May 13

  • Flying Dog Sampling – Ye Old Spirit Shop 
5 to 7 pm
  • Frederick Tap Takeover – Bushwaller’s Irish Pub in downtown Frederick, MD
5 pm to close
Only Flying Dog, Brewer’s Alley, Barley and Hops, and Heavy Seas beer on tap!
  • Friday the FIRKteenth – Hollow Creek Golf Club in Middletown, MD,
6 pm to close,
Heavy Seas firkin and live music from Paul Pfau.

Saturday, May 14

  • Beer Brunch – Mt. Airy Inn in Mt. Airy, MD
11 am to 2 pm
  • Frederick Beer Week Brew Fest – at Stillpoint Farm in Mt. Airy, MD,
Noon to 6 pm – features beer from Flying Dog, Brewer’s Alley, Barley and Hops, and Heavy Seas, as well as live music by The Jug Band, The Polka Dots, and The Fieldhands; crafts, food, hay rides and more!

Even the County libraries are celebrating as they’ve placed all their beer-related books on display in honor of this glorious tribute to Frederick beer.   So come join us native Fredericktonians for an exciting week-long beer celebration!

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