For this week’s beer run, I ventured to the other side, the south side of town for at least one of my review purchases, to a small package liquor store off of the main drag, around the corner from the firehouse. This trip would serve a few purposes, namely to check on their range of selections and see if they have anything different from the MBS, also to compare prices on known brands.
I parked my truck and walked into a store devoid of people. It was about 11 in the morning so that may be understandable. Quite different from up on the north side. I cruised around past the cooler and checked the contents. The same Coors, Bud, Miller combinations were all there, of course. I made my way around the bend and there was the craft beer shelf. It was less than half the size but, hello? What have we here?
There were at least, at least a half dozen beer brands I haven’t heard of. Hell, that could be six weeks’ worth of reviews and by the time the last one was consumed, they would probably be new ones. It seems there will be a diversification in the way I do business when it comes to buying beer. I decided to buy a beer brand I was familiar with get off the stouts, if it was only for a week. I settled on a sixer from Flying Dog Brewery out of Frederick, Maryland, namely Flying Dog Garde Dog Ale a Biere de Garde.
With the sixer of Garde Dog in hand I proceeded to the check out and paid the man the requisite $8.99 for the sixer. I briefly thought about assuming an Ahnold accent and tell him that I’d be returning, but decided not to.
The most distinctive things about Flying Dog from a visual perspective are the labels. Each image for each different brew style is a product of artist Ralph Steadman, who seems to have a penchant for the bizarre when rendering his creations. Visit his most bizarre website here. That’s him on the right. His artwork is on the left.
That brings us to this beer, Garde Dog. On the label it’s says Biere de Garde, a French term for “keeping beer.” Beers were usually brewed by farmhouses in the winter and spring, to avoid unpredictable problems with the yeast during the summertime. Somewhat like a Marzen.
Friday still had a stint of work ahead, eight hours of servitude for a paycheck every two weeks. When work is out it’s Noche de Cerveza.
Twenty whole minutes before midnight I was back at the Manly Garage grabbing the first beer as the MacBook was booting up. Time is of the essence as they say.
I poured the beer and noticed right away that the head on this one needs some help, or maybe it was designed that way. The color was a clear orange-yellow and a small complement of bubbles perked away from the bottom. There was not a lot of aroma but I did pick up some citrusy notes in the smell. By now the head was gone.
The first sip had me wondering where I tasted this before. It seemed to be a combination of tastes from different beers I’d had in the past. A little bit of last week’s Murphy’s, some Newcastle and something nicely sweet. The beer was rather mild up front and had a nice crispness on the way down. The middle was this entertaining mystery flavor. (What is that? Cinnamon?) How nice, how pleasant.
The beer left a nice cack in the back of the throat and the taste coated all my mouthy parts with mystery flavorings. By this time, the fact that there wasn’t any foamy head to speak of was forgiven. Sip after sip slid right down my gullet with a smile.
As best I can describe, this beer was a better tasting version of Murphy’s and Berghoff’s Rock River Red. This one was nicely sweeter and more subdued in the middle. It’s a nicely drinkable beer, so much so, that if you handed a glass of this beer to a friend, after the first sip he’d say, “Mmm. What is this beer?” It’s different and it’s good.
I’ve had three of these beers while I was writing and I still like the taste. I’d venture to say that I might get tired of them after the sixpack was gone, but probably not. We haven’t gone that far yet. Each sip asked for another all the way through. This beer is not an extraordinary beer that will make you foam at the mouth to drink again but it certainly is something to bark about. (Pfft! Puns!) Really good beer.
Taste: B > Like the first drop on a rollercoaster.
Smoothness: B > Ball bearings in light oil.
Drinkability: B > Thank you,sir. May I have another?
Bang for the buck: C > “Nicely done” deserves a little extra.