Flying Dog – El Dorado & Wildeman Farmhouse IPA

Two Flying Dogs…

Flying Dog El Dorado & Wildeman Farmhouse IPA

George Stranahan is the heir of the Champion Spark Plug fortune and probably didn’t need to work a day in his life but he is described on the brewery’s website as an astrophysicist, photographer, rancher, writer, philanthropist, and an educator. He has interest in explosives, high-powered weapons, football, politics, whiskey and beer. Sounds like an interesting character.

In 1983, Stranahan and a band of what he called “twelve innocents” climbed the second highest peak in the world – K2. After a bender at the hotel bar in Pakistan, Stranahan spots an oil painting of a dog that had “left the ground”. It was in his mind a “Flying Dog”. A theme that stuck with a couple of Stranahan’s business ventures. In 1990, Stranahan opens Flying Dog brewpub in Aspen, Colorado and ultimately opens a full-time brewery with longtime friend Richard MacIntyre. The current brewery resides in Fredricksburg, Maryland. Since then, Stranahan passed a majority share of his brewery onto his six kids and has begun to simplify his estate shedding assets. I thought the story was worthy enough to relay.

Their website also mentions Stranahan’s literary and artistic friends and their influence on the brewery. One of his friends – Hunter Thompson wrote a funny toast for the launch of Flying Dog’s Road Dog:

“There is an ancient Celtic axiom that says “Good People Drink Good Beer.” Which is true, then as now. Just look around you in any public barroom and you will quickly see: Bad People Drink Bad Beer. Think about it”.

What you’ll notice first about Flying Dog beer is its artistic labels – chaotic scribbles and creepy circus like characters. These are the works of Ralph Steadman who has been creating labels for Flying Dog since 1996.

El Dorado Single Hop
Tasting: June 25, 2012
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 10%

Huge active head – takes a little while to retreat fully into this rich amber ale. My first impression is exactly like sweet tarts – wow. That first impression dissipates and never really reappears after a few sips numb the tastebuds. At some points it becomes a little clunky with combination of bread, booziness and some pepper. I let it sit for longer periods of time just to try and re-capture that initial impression. It works. This is a Jekyll & Hyde brew – one sip I love it — one sip not so much. I’ll still put the total experience at 86 points.

Wildeman Farmhouse IPA
Tasting: June 25, 2012
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.5%
IBU: 75

The phrase “farmhouse” is tossed around loosely these days. I understand it to mean a proprietary recipe brewed at a farm for seasonal workers. It’s usually low in ABV, so the workers could still function. More often I’ve noticed that farmhouse is a term used in association with a lot of Belgian-style ales. This one is quite active on the pour with a crazy foaming head. First impression is fizzy and yeasty. This is predominantly Belgian ale of pepper and clove up front with a clunky lemon hop finish. I’m not sure I buy the 75 IBU. Overall, it doesn’t disappoint — but it is far from inspiring — 83 points.

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