Easy IPA (4.7%) by FLying Dog BreweryContinuing January's vegan theme, attentions switch Stateside to the town of Frederick, Maryland and the magnificent Flying Dog Brewery.
Flying Dog celebrate their quarter century this year, and since their maiden flight in 1990 they've brewed a steady series of craft ales, winning over beer lovers in the States and on this side of the Atlantic. Their international acclaim and reputation for good beers was no doubt aided by renegade journalist Dr Hunter S Thompson and his artist chum Ralph Steadman who helped with their branding. It was Thompson who coined their slogan, Good People Drink Good Beer, and it's the indefatigable Steadman whose distinctive artwork adorns their labels. (Thompson was a neighbour of founder George Stranahan - they shared a love of explosives apparently - and introduced him to Steadman.)
Flying Dog's Easy India Pale Ale, packaged in cans, is relative newcomer to these shores. Its aroma is a hefty hit of pine resin along with more delicate notes of spices, apricot, clementine and soft summer berries. It pours straw pale gold with a thick creamy head and light lacing down the glass.
First off, this IPA has a gentle malt flavour - think oat biscuits rather than anything more caramel - and the sweet stone, spices and soft fruit flavours remain as the drink progresses through to a long, dry bitterness that'll have your lips smacking loudly for more, but leave your palate intact.
The canned Easy IPA is a fine beer, and worth trying out if you see it, but it's their Imperial Porter Gonzo (named in honour of Thompson) that you really, really, really must try out. Complex, potent, rich, delicious. It's truly a great. At 9.2%, Gonzo is a beer for savouring rather than swallying. The Easy IPA on the other hand is a session-friendly 4.7%.
With a couple of exceptions - the Black Honey IPA and Pearl Necklace oyster stout - all of Flying Dog's products are vegan.