Ale has long been the drink of thugs, convicts, rowdies, rakes and other depraved outlaws who thrive on the quick bursts of night-energy that ale brings.
In the 17th century England gangs of ale-crazed fops would often fight to the death in all-night brawls on public greenswards, which terrified the citizenry and left many of the infamous “youngblood horseman” chopped up with grievous sword and dagger wounds… These were the Wild Boys of Olde English story and song, rich sots on horseback who amused themselves in London by riding out at night, ripped to the tits on strong ale, and “popped old ladies into empty booze-barrels and rolled them down steep, cobblestone hills with crazy screams and shouts.”
If you must roll old ladies down hills and you don’t want to pay the bills, try to be nice and clean off their lice with a powerful Road Dog Ale.
~Hunter S. Thompson
The good doctor penned the mini quote above, dubbed “Ale According to Hunter,” in honour of the launch of “Road Dog Porter,” for Flying Dog Brewery which was, at the time, brewing beer in Woody Creek, Colorado just down the road from Thompson’s Owl Farm.
According to the legend (or Flying Dog’s website) Thompson and Flying Dog co-founder George Strahan apparently bonded over “explosives, high-powered weapons, politics, football, whiskey, and beer.” In 1996, Thompson introduced Strahan to illustrator Ralph Steadman and, amazingly, Steadman has been doing original artwork for the brewery’s labels ever since.
As if that hook weren’t enough reason to check out Flying Dog’s products, it turns out they’re also doing some pretty amazing stuff with their beer.
Founded as a brewpub in Colorado in 1990, Flying Dog has been a staple in American beer nerds’ diets ever since. Their renowned line up of beers tend to feature a hoppy profile and they’re known first and foremost for experimentation and variety. A quick glance at their profile on sites like ratebeer will give you some indication of the various styles they’ve tried (and tried quite successfully) over the years. It’ll also give you some idea of the creative and weird vibe they bring to the beer scene with beer names like Extra Special Gonzo, Heller Hound Bock, and Snake Dog IPA. Owing to their tendency to make a variety of great beers, they don’t really have a staple beer and, in fact, their best seller, Raging Bitch, accounts for just 25 percent of their overall production. (For the record, Doggie Style Pale Ale and Snake Dog IPA are their second and third best sellers. I just like writing these beer names, really).
These days Strahan and co-founder Richard McIntyre brew their beer in Maryland but they still have an eye toward experimentation. Just this year they announced their Brewhouse Rarities Series, a limited release line with a new beer scheduled to be released on the 1st of every month. Sadly, they’ll only be released in Maryland, Virginia, and DC so you’re better off not even clicking the link because it’ll just make you angry that you’ll never, ever see these.
Though it probably doesn’t need to be said, it’s incredibly frigging difficult to find Flying Dog products in Canada (unless I’m wrong and in which case, please, please fill me in). I have seen Flying Dog beers at barVolo before though and, according to their website, they seem to have Flying Dog Horn Dog Barley Wine and Flying Dog Kerberos Tripel bottles available now.
While they have recently announced they’ll be putting their beer in LCBO-friendly cans, too I wouldn’t count on seeing these in Ontario anytime soon. They already ship over 500,000 cases a year across the US so it hardly seems worth the headache for them to bring their beers here, no matter how often I ask Santa.
If you ever get a chance to check out Flying Dog, do it. They’re a great brand with a cool philosophy and they are a great example of how craft beer is being done right South of the border.
And, if you already know all about them or live in the US, send me some of their fucking beer ASAP.
Check out this gallery of Ralph Steadman labels that I pillaged off another website I can’t now recall. If it’s yours, thanks!