Cindy and I hitched up our new little travel trailer to the faithful ol’ Dakota and set out on our inaugural road trip. As we rambled along the highway it dawned on me, Road Trips and Brew Pubs is back! And this is our first brew-venture of 2015.
During a phone call with the friendly camp owner I learned that there are quite a few breweries nearby, just over the Potomac River in Virginia. Microbreweries like Mad Horse Brewpub, Old 690 Brewing Company and Adroit Theory Craft Brewery to name a few.
With only one day to explore the area and also enjoy some time hanging around the campsite drinking beer we decided to limit our excursion to Flying Dog but we do plan on a future trip to visit those other breweries, so stay tuned for that. Meanwhile…
With 86,000 barrels of beer produced in 2014 Flying Dog Brewery is obviously not a microbrewery, but a craft brewery. I got bit by Flying Dog some time ago, and was an immediate fan. The beer that got me was their Single Hop Simcoe Imperial IPA, amazing hoppy citrus aroma and huge flavor. In my opinion it rivals Heady Topper, but you know what they say about opinions. After tasting that brew I had to have more and Flying Dog has been one of the top breweries on my list ever since.
Cindy is also a big Flying Dog fan. Her favorite is their Belgian style ale, Raging Bitch. Which brings me to another aspect of Flying Dog that appeals to us, their label art.
Each label features original artwork painted by Ralph Steadman. A renowned British artist and illustrator, his style is unique to say the least, unforgettable and immediately recognizable. His imagery is often provocative, suggestive and maybe offensive to some. But artistic expression should not be censored because someone feels offended.
This is precisely why, in April of 2015, Flying Dog won a lawsuit they filed against the Michigan Liquor Control Commission who banned sales of Raging Bitch in that state in 2009 because they claimed it was, “detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the general public.”
Goddamn, if the Raging Bitch label was the only such detrimental thing our country had to worry about we’d be in great shape! Steadman’s artwork for the Label, seen above, features a crazed looking bitch of a doggy complete with a nice little cuchi in her hind quarters there. Oh, and she has tits, don’t forget the tits!
Steadman also wrote the label prose for Raging Bitch, which reads…
Two inflammatory words… one wild drink. Nectar imprisoned in a bottle. Let it out. It is cruel to keep a wild animal locked up. Uncap it. Release it… stand back! Wallow in its golden glow in a glass beneath a white foaming head. Remember, enjoying a RAGING BITCH, unleashed, untamed, unbridled — and in heat — is pure GONZO!! It has taken 20 years to get from there to here. Enjoy!
This censorship isn’t the first Flying Dog has had to deal with. In his artwork for Flying Dog’s Road Dog Porter, Steadman included the quip, “Good Beer, No Shit.” Colorado banned sales based on these words but the courts ruled in Flying Dog’s favor protecting their, and everyone’s, First Amendment right of Freedom of Speech.
And, though not technically censored, Flying Dog modified the artwork for their Doggie Style Classic Ale to appease retailers who refused to sell the beer.
Read more about the Raging Bitch ruling, and a comment by artist Ralph Steadman at Flying Dog’s Blog.
Back at the Brewery
Flying Dog is located in an industrial park — and though that may sound a bit, uh, industrial — it’s not an unpleasant location. The grounds around the place are kept tidy enough, and when you pull into the Flying Dog parking lot you see a huge grain silo, and a big cool looking wooden structure emblazoned with their winged-dog logo. Personally I have no idea what this large mysterious structure is, maybe it covers another grain silo, or maybe it’s just there as a focal point to make your entry less industrial-park-like. Whatever it’s purpose, it serves it well.
We parked, and upon exiting the truck inhaled deeply the telltale waft of beer-making. Delighted, Cindy and I exhaled and strolled happily to the entrance, our taste buds eagerly anticipating the flavors in store.
We missed our opportunity for the brewery tour and would have had to wait another hour to do it, so we decided to have lunch and enjoy the samples, then buy some swag and head back to the campground.
Selections for our sampler flight included a limited release Earl Grey Black Wheat; Seasonal Numero Uno, Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale, Horn Dog, Kerberos Tripel and Kujo; and year-round offerings The Truth and Bloodline Blood Orange Ale.
Small wonder Flying Dog has been as successful as it has. The inventors of these fine ales and lagers know exactly what they are doing and it shows. Each of their brew-house offerings is so full of flavor, and true to style. Like the vibrant artwork that graces each label, the beer within is just as robust and colorful in taste and aroma.
Previously unsure of what we might do for lunch we found our answer at The Green Bowl food truck which was parked near the entrance to the outside seating area. The Green Bowl Food Truck saved the day with a Bibimbap bowl and Mofongo bowl, served up pretty quickly too. I took the opportunity to check in on Facebook while I was waiting. Great food to accompany the great beers we were enjoying on that sunny day in Frederick, MD.
After enjoying our beers and finishing up lunch we headed back into the brewery’s taproom to buy some branded merch. Oh let’s see, some stickers, a deck of Flying Dog playing cards, more stickers, a t-shirt for Cindy, a mix-pack of beers, and a bag for the swag, which will come in handy for our weekly trips to the local growers market.
In all it was a great afternoon at Flying Dog, we’ll probably go again the next time we’re passing through. At the very least the dog bite is still working it’s magic on me. You simply can’t ignore the creativity, uniqueness and fearlessness of this brand, unleashed in 1990 from a Brewpub in Aspen, Colorado.
Congratulations, and thank you, to those responsible for bringing this wonderful, growing collection of beers to us all. And thank you to Ralph Steadman for pushing the envelope of creativity to bring us those awesome illustrations that grace the bottles we enjoy looking at while we’re drinking the “pure GONZO” brew within.