10/23/19: Flying Dog Brewery's The Fear

4:51 PM

Today was exhausting. Luckily for me it was the good kind of exhausting--the kind that reminds me of why I wanted to get into my line of work in the first place. So, in honor of that, tonight's spooky beer will be one of celebration.

Please, come along with me on this haunted evening as the witching hour draw ever nearer. Tonight, we break into a horrifying beer; one that reminds us of the reason for this nightmarish season. Now that the sun has set and the moon is on the rise, we experience it: The Fear.

Flying Dog brewing is the first craft brewer I ever noticed in stores--a few years before I was able to legally imbibe, even. Regardless of this, I've never sampled their craft, nor have I ever endeavored to learn about the brewery. That ends now. I've visited Flying Dog's "Our Story" page. Here's what I've found: George Stranahan and Richard McIntyre opened a Woody Creek, CO brewpub in 1990. George's friend, one Hunter S. Thompson, talked artist Ralph Steadman into producing label art for the brewpub. Ralph came up with Flying Dog's mantra "Good beer, no shit" on live TV. Since then, the brewery's stood strong for freedom of artistic expression. Also, seeing as how Flying Dog's now based in Maryland, one would assume that, at some point, Stranahan and company decided to headquarter their operations there.

The Fear, tonight's beer, is a 9% ABV imperial pumpkin ale that aims to stand out amongst its bland contemporaries. Spice-forward without being overly sweet, the ale's brewed with six pounds of pumpkin per barrel.

I can say immediately and with complete honesty that The Fear's aroma is exactly what I want in an imperial pumpkin ale. I get pumpkin. I get spice (nutmeg and cinnamon). I get a caramel quality from the malt. There's also a slight, sharp bite of booziness that's lurking beneath it all. While I'm incredibly impressed with the ale's nose, Purrl really isn't. In fact, she only gave my bottle three whiffs. That's okay, though. She doesn't really "get" dogs.

I'm able to tell the merit of a pumpkin ale's flavor by examining how much it makes me crave peanut butter cups (if you haven't tried it, peanut butter cups and pumpkin ale is a perfect pairing). I'm happy to report that The Fear is making me have that craving something fierce. The spice is bitey. The pumpkin is big. The sweetness is, thankfully, subtle. The alcohol is in the dry finish, but not overly pronounced. This is exactly what an imperial pumpkin ale should taste like.

The mouthfeel here is definitely that of an ale. Mild, sharp carbonation. Perfectly aligned with the rest of the beer.

The most famous cemetery at the Ridges (the old asylum and grounds looming over Athens, OH. I've talked about the place plenty of times before. Hit up that search bar near the top of the page to read all about it) is the one along the brick road that follows the hill to its peak, where the old tuberculosis ward used to be before the university saw fit to tear it down.

This cemetery has, at its edge, a group of graves arranged in a circle. Rumor has it that it was some sort of witches circle, and that evil rituals are held there regularly. Now, during my tenure in Athens, I visited the Ridges at night plenty of times and not once did I ever see any witches doing anything with that circle of graves, only college kids being dicks. Why were the graves laid out in a circle? I couldn't tell you. But, even knowing that the cemetery held nothing out-of-the-ordinary, the Fear was still strong walking by it after sundown.

Flying Dog's take on pumpkin beer is an effort that's nothing short of amazing. The Fear is an imperial pumpkin ale that's such a stellar example of the style that I can't bring myself to give it anything less than a 10/10. It's a must-try brew.

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