Friday, April 23, 2010

Flying Dog Raging Bitch

  
Raging Bitch
Belgian-Style IPA

Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery


Frederick, Maryland

 

Belgian IPA
 

8.30% ABV





Commercial Description:
Flying Dog Brewery will celebrate its 20th Anniversary a few months early on Friday, September 25th (the brewery turns 20 next year). The brewery will be sampling the new Raging Bitch Belgian-style India Pale Ale at the Flying dog Brats And Gonzo party in Denver that day as part of the Great American Beer Fest happening that week (unscramble the FBAG acronym to get GABF). More info about the fest can be found on the official Flying Dog blog. The beer also appeared on draft at this past weekend’s Gonzofest party. Al from Hop Talk was in attendance and reported on his blog, “I understand it’s made from an augmented Snake Dog wort with an exclusive Belgian yeast strain (called Diablo) and dry-hopped with a load of Amarillo hops. They’re calling it a Belgian IPA. It was really good. It had that hop bite from a big, bad American IPA with the banana and bubblegum from the Belgian yeast.” Some may remember a beer called, Raging Bitch Birch Beer, that Flying Dog introduced on April 1st. Whereas that low-gravity series beer was a joke, this beer is anything but at 8% ABV (60 IBU). Propaganda from the label: “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!” – Ralph Steadman
(ratebeer.com)

General Pricing:

12oz bottle, ~ $8.00 6 Pack, ~ $29.00 Case.


Background:
Bier Cabinet Spring Cleaning Continues. This one is a recommendation from my daughter Monica and boyfriend Michael. I don’t know anything about this beer other than they liked it and It’s classified as a Belgian IPA by beeradvocate.com. Typically Belgian IPAs are much of an oxymoron for me and I don’t particularly appreciate this new style.

But I will keep an open mind and palate for this review.


Review:

The beer pours a nice copper color with amber hues and a fairly rich white to off white head. This beer is also highly carbonated with lots of tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the class.

This is a very interesting nose. Rich caramel malts, plenty of hop aromas, some very interesting spice and fruit notes, plus something that smells yeasty and Belgian.


Interesting, very interesting. There is a lot going on in this sip it may take a while to try and dissect this one.

Up front on the tip of the tongue are sweet caramel malts then a nice effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip along with a building hop presence. This continues to build as the hop bitterness intensifies during the swallow. The finish seems to dry slightly but remains very hoppy. This is also one of those beers that have multiple hop characteristics throughout the tasting experience. The final aftertaste is again mainly a hop bitterness but there is also a yeasty aspect to the final aftertaste.

I am a huge fan of the Belgian styles but I’m not sold on this new Belgian IPA style. I’m all for the Belgian inspiration but I’m not sure how the rich malty Belgian characteristics play with the overly bitter American IPA hops.

Sorry to digress back to what’s in front of me.

I really think the hops are just too overwhelming. Especially as this warms the hops seems to be more predominate. I’m not a hophead and hence not the ideal target audience for this style.

I do have to admit that this is a well crafted ale. It’s not exactly my style but it is nicely done.

The head and lacing on this beer has just been incredible. There has always been a nice protective film over the top of the beer and the lacing is quite impressive.

I am getting to the end of this beer. It is now at 66 degrees and for what it’s worth it is warming well.  Although the hop bitterness seems be getting stronger on the finish it is still not picking up anything unpleasant.

Well I have to make a decision here soon I’m running out of beer and this is the only one I have.

So for an overly bitter American brew I’ll take this one any day over most of the American IPA’s. The main problem for his is that the excessive hop bitterness does not make this easy drinking or refreshing. The hops completely dominate this beer; the Belgian yeast and malts are not even players in this experience. Now that is just a down right crime for someone who appreciates the subtle complexity and esters of the Belgians.

I have drafted several posts about this Belgian IPA style of beer but I have not posted anything yet. I get babbling on and it never reads right. I guess that’s what I need to do to get this contradiction in styles off of my chest.

So for right now, did I or did I not like this beer? That is the question.

Well, I guess so?

For all the American brewed Belgian IPA’s that I’ve had this was the best, hands down. No that doesn’t make it an A since this is a quantum leap away from those authentic Belgian hoppy brews like Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel and Pirraat Ale, two hoppy Belgians that I really enjoy.

So, in trying to stay faithful to this style I will give the Raging B a B.

This beer will be highly enjoyed by any Hophead. And I’m glad for that because it is far better than most American IPA’s.  But….

My final recommendation is that you should try one of the Authentic Belgians like Houblon Chouffe and Pirraat Ale if you are interested in a hoppy Belgian.


In closing, I just realized that it may not be the bitterness but the actual American hop flavors that I don’t like in this style. I’ll have to look into this further as I ed-ja-ma-kate myself about hops.

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