Tag Archives: Colorado

New Brew: Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA

21 Apr

Belgian beer and it’s domestic offshoots have been gaining traction in America for some time now, with bold Americanized versions of classic Belgian styles and Belgique American ales appearing more and more often.  It has become readily apparent that the Belgian-Style (India) Pale Ale is the trendy craft style du jour.  Houblon Chouffe and Urthel Hop-It were two early examples of hopped-up, American West Coast takes on Belgian Tripel-style beers.  More recently Ommegang’s BPA, Ale Asylum’s Bedlam (hitting store shelves now), and here, Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch carry the torch for a new era of Transatlantic style-mashing.  It also happens that these hoppy-yet-smooth and spicy beers are precisely what I’ve been craving as Spring takes hold.  Celebrating 20 years of bold beers with bolder packaging (Ralph Steadman’s labels drew me to Flying Dog beers early in my craft beer journey), Flying Dog chose the en vogue style with Raging Bitch.  Resistance was futile.

Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian-Style India Pale Ale

Style: Belgian-Style Pale Ale

Vitals: 8.3% abv; 60 IBUs; Malts – 60L Crystal; Hops – Warrior, Columbus, Amarillo (for dry-hopping); Yeast – El Diablo; $8.49/Six-pack at Barriques Wine & Spirits

Company line:

Bitches come in a variety of forms, but there’s never been something as sassy as Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian IPA.  An American IPA augmented with Belgian yeast, our 20th anniversary beer jumps out of the glass and nips at your taste buds with its delicate hop bitterness.  At 8.3% ABV, this bitch is dangerously drinkable.

My take: pours a vibrant tangerine orange under ample white froth in the glass.  Nose bristles with pine and citrus hops, subtle yeasty spice and mellow stone fruits.  The palate is spiked by the sharp resinous hops profile, but is assuaged by the soft banana and clove notes of the Belgian-style yeast.  The overall effect is a deft melding of IPA and a Belgian-style golden ale.  The softening effect of the amber malts and fruity yeast lends drinkability that belies the alcoholic heft within.  All bitch imagery aside, this is exactly the kind of beer I crave this time of year and a timely choice for Flying Dog’s 20th Anniversary.


New Brew: New Belgium Ranger India Pale Ale

9 Feb

New Belgium Brewing has quickly expanded its line-up since it first entered the Wisconsin market last year.  Initially just a few standards such as Fat Tire and Mothership Wit in bombers, Wisconsinites are now privy to much of their catalog including seasonals and special releases like La Folie, their well-lauded sour brown ale (you know I have a bottle chilling in the mini-fridge – holler!).  Their latest is Ranger India Pale Ale – their first venture in true American-style (read: hopped-til-you-drop) IPAs named after the ambassadors of beer they’ve enlisted across their empire.

Beer: New Belgium Ranger India Pale Ale

Vitals: 6.5% abv; 70 IBUs; Hops: Cascade, Chinook, Simcoe; Malts: pale, dark caramel

Company Line: “So, here it finally is – New Belgium’s foray into the true American India Pale Ales. Bring out the hops! This clear amber beauty bursts at the starting gate with an abundance of hops: Cascade (citrus), Chinook (floral/citrus), and Simcoe (fruity) lead off the beer, with Cascade added again for an intense dry hop flavor. Brewed with pale and dark caramel malts that harmonize the hop flavor from start to finish, Ranger is a sessionable splendor for all you hopinistas. Thank your Beer Ranger! -newbelgium.com

My take: crystal clear amber under loads of soapy, lacy foam in the glass.  Aroma bounces between herbal and tropical fruit hop notes.  Palate surprises with a brief strike of…watermelon? between the varied hop characters.  Dry herbaceous and citrus notes from the Cascade are countered by pineapple and apricot from the Simcoe.  Malt presence is light and biscuity, lending a smooth, dry finish that scrubs any lingering hops resin from the palate and invited further sipping.  Aside from the slightly distracting watermelon note, this is a highly sessionable and pleasantly balanced take on the American IPA.  Flavorful without being heavy-handed.  Ranger gives the drinker the benefit of the doubt in assuming a sophisticated and discerning palate that looks for more than high IBU values in an IPA.  At $4 a bomber, you really can’t go wrong.

New Brew: Avery Old Jubilation

23 Dec

Holiday time always brings on an interesting barrage of beer and beer-related gifts for me.  Knowing my love for craft beer, several relatives send me home with any number of gift sets or holiday samplers of varying quality.  This year’s first such gifting netted me an 8-pack holiday sampler put together by Brennen’s Market – a great local resource for craft beer, fresh produce, and fine meats and cheeses.  Brennen’s is known for their focus on beers found mostly west of the Mississippi – Colorado especially – and Avery is one of their favorite breweries to stock.  A strong winter warmer sounded about right as the next BIG ONE threatens to blanket Madison in anything ranging from freezing rain to 8 inches of snow for Christmas.

Beer: Avery Old Jubilation

Beer Style: English Old Ale

Vitals: OG: 1.074   ABV: 8.0%   IBUs: 30, Hop Variety: Bullion, Malt Variety: Two-row barley, special roast, black, chocolate, victory

Company Line: “Our winter strong ale has a gorgeous mahogany hue, a hint of hazelnuts, and a finish reminiscent of mocha and toffee. No spices, just a perfect blend of five specialty malts. Cellarable for 2 years. – averybrewing.com

My take: an attractive clear mahogany under a finger of khaki foam.  Nose is somewhat muted, with a whisp of malted grain and vanilla and a hint of tinniness.  Rich malts meld notes of caramel, vanilla, and chocolate are braced by a piney hop bristle and a warming alcoholic heat to the tune of 8% abv.  I certainly appreciate a winter seasonal that doesn’t rely on the crutch of heavy spicing.  Complex malting with just the right amount of balancing hops is all a good brewer needs to create a beer full of character and devoid of gimmick.  As the brewers suggest, I would imagine this one smoothing out and changing in some interesting ways with a some age.  All told, a nice way to wind down when Wisconsin winter is trying its darndest to ruin Christmas.

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