Maryland’s largest brewery is the award-winning Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick. The brewery, projected to produce 85,000 barrels in 2013, continues to grow at about 10-12 percent per year. Flying Dog has a current capacity of about 95,000 barrels per year and is installing larger fermentation tanks to increase that by about 10,000. Almost 80 percent of the beer is bottled with the remainder in kegs for draft distribution. A small amount of two popular styles, Snake Dog India Pale Ale and Underdog Atlantic Lager, is canned.
Originally started as a brewpub in 1990 in Aspen, Colo., Flying Dog opened their 50-barrel brewery in Denver in 1994. While still maintaining corporate headquarters in Denver, Flying Dog purchased the larger Frederick brewery in 2006, eventually moving all their brewing operations to the Frederick facility.
Flying Dog brews ten different styles of beer year around, ten seasonal beers, and about another 20 brews available only at the brewery and in the mid-Atlantic region. Many of the latter are among their Brewhouse Rarities, unique small-batch beers proposed by any employee. The employee then works with the brewers from start to finish to bring the beer to market, even helping with the artwork. Several of the Brewhouse Rarities will be bottled in 2014 for the first time. Two recent innovative Brewhouse Rarities are Orchard Ale, a beer made with apple cider juice from Distillery Lane Ciderworks, Maryland’s only cidery, and Vineyard Blonde, which uses Vidal Blanc grapes from Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville, Va.
Each year the brewery makes Secret Stash, a harvest ale celebration of Maryland agriculture using only Maryland hops, to help develop the state’s nascent hop industry, and Maryland wheat. Flying Dog also makes a series of Imperial IPA beers using a single hop to highlight that hop’s flavor characteristics. Four of these were brewed in 2013 and another four are expected in 2014.
Head brewer Matt Brophy, a former homebrewer, has been with Flying Dog for over ten years, brewing previously with the Flying Fish Brewery in New Jersey, and the Great Divide Brewery in Denver. Brophy’s brewing philosophy involves “a spirit of collaboration and creativity.” Brophy emphasizes that the brewery is focusing on the Washington, D.C., area specifically and the mid-Atlantic region.
Tours are available to persons 21 and older at 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Tours cost $5 and include tastings of five draft beers. The innovative labels on the bottles are the creation of Ralph Steadman, a renowned British cartoonist and caricaturist. Steadman is best known as the illustrator of the books of Gonzo author Hunter S. Thompson.
Raging Bitch (8.3 percent alcohol by volume) is a Belgian IPA and the company’s best selling beer. It has a citric hop and Belgian yeast nose with hints of mango. The light sweet and citrus hop front continues into the middle where the hops increase slightly and a touch of mango joins. All of these extend in the smooth finish and aftertaste where the bitterness elevates a modicum but is nicely balanced by the mango sweetness. Ratings: 7.5/8.
Single Hop Simcoe Imperial IPA (10 percent ABV) is an example of the single hop series, which uses the same recipe for each iteration, only changing the amount of the specific hop so that the hop bitterness level is constant. Simcoe Imperial IPA has a bouquet typical of the Simcoe hop showing both pine and citrus with some bitterness. The mild sweet malt front grows to a medium sweetness in the middle where the Simcoe hop emerges. These last into the silky finish. The aftertaste presents a hint of warmth but the alcohol is very well integrated, with a mild lingering bitterness. Ratings: 8.5/8.5.
Horn Dog Barleywine (10.2 percent ABV) should be enjoyed in a brandy snifter. Horn Dog has an aroma of molasses and dark fruit. The medium sweet molasses and malt front merges with a soft plum which is moderated by a tinge of alcohol. The alcohol intensifies and becomes more apparent in the finish as the plum and molasses remain. The balanced alcohol extends to medium in the aftertaste as the sweet molasses comes to the forefront. Ratings: 9/9.
Gonzo Imperial Porter (9.8 percent ABV) presents soft roast, modest bitter hops and a pinch of celery nose with a silky mouthfeel throughout. The moderate roast and subdued coffee front segues into the middle where the roast increases. The finish adds a muted milk chocolate character. In the aftertaste the roast becomes more prominent while the hop bitterness grows but is modified by the chocolate. Ratings: 9/8.5.