Another part of our (hopefully) year-long video project, A Year of Beer. looking at the idea of beer and seasonality - how different styles of beer are more appropriate to different seasons, weathers, festivals and so on. There will also be a bit of beer and food matching thrown in because, hell, we love to eat as much as we love to drink.
This week: Flying Dog Raging Bitch
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Flying Dog Raging Bitch
Sometimes I think my job is the best in the world. I get to drink beer, sell beer, brew beer, taste beer, write about beer - in fact, now I see it writen down, it clearly is the best job in the world, I've just lost a little perspective. Let's start again.
My job is the best job in the world. However, there was a minor fly the ointment this week when Flying Dog's brewer Matt Brophy was in town (Leeds), hosting a beer and food event at the Cross Keys pub in Holbeck, in collaboration with James Clay and Sons (the UK importers of Flying Dog) and the good folk at North Bar (The Cross Keys is a sibling pub of North). It all sounds great doesn't it? Well, it was, except sadly a new work regime meant that I missed out on the lion's share of the beers, arriving just in time for the last flight.
But what a flight of beers that was. As I walked in, I was handed a sample of Dog Scwharz, a smoked black imperial lager which, once you pick the style description apart and figure out what it might be, was a revelation. Rich, rounded, undeniably smoky, with (and they use this as a descriptor on their website, albeit not of Dog Schwarz) shitloads of heavily roasted malt locking horns with a touch of smoked malt, bringing out the best in each other. For me, smoked malt works best in darker beers, and the body and complexity of this made it something very special.
So imagine my surprise when the next beer took it to another level altogether. A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to drink a bottle of Pliny the Elder. Every beer since then has tasted like malt soup, some sort of unfocused beery swill, until now. The sample of Raging Bitch (terrible name, great beer) that I tried made my brain do somersaults. The hop character was clean, sweetly fruity and bright, without being brutal - it was so intense, almost hyper-real in its hoppiness. The malt that was supporting it was doing it's own thing - I don't know whether it was because the cask was a little hazy (or fully cloudy), but it was reminiscent of a double IPA / hopfenweisse mix. Amarillo hops and an unusual yeast strain (Diablo, aparently) party down and create something so fresh, delicious and complellingly drinkable that I did what any sane person would do - I left.
OK, I'm exaggerating a little - I tried a sample of GOnzo Imperial Porter, but all I could think about was the sheer brilliance of Raging Bitch (terrible name, great beer). As the tasting was winding up, I left, and drove to North Bar, where they had a cask of Raging Bitch (terrible name, great beer) waiting, one of only three casks in the entire world. And I was heading for it, committed to driving home and getting up about 6 hours after I arrive, thanks to my little sons unusual sleeping habits. I bought a pint, sped home, and made this blog. Leeanne and the nipper were asleep, hence the hushed delivery - or was I awed to be in the presence of greatness?
Layers of fruity banana, spice and bubblegum, overlaid with citrus and tropical fruit. Sweetly fruity, becoming bitter in the finish. Utterly delicious. For all I know, my description might be of a sub-optimal sample, but I don't care. This is a great beer, akin to that bottle of Pliny the Elder, akin to drinking Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse straight from the conditioning tank in Brooklyn.
Raging Bitch. Really terrible name. Really great beer.