Right before we left for a few days last week (during Spring Break), I received a box from Flying Dog Brewery. Can you guess what it contained (besides from the title to this post, or, er, the picture to the right)? You can if you read other beer bloggers—for instance, here, here, and here. That’s right, the box contained a bottle of Flying Dog’s new spring seasonal, a Bière de Garde: Garde Dog.
Flying Dog is definitely bold with their brewing choices, and even bolder when it comes to promoting their beers, embracing the internet like no other brewer I can think of offhand. I respect that; if I were to be marketing beer I would totally go the blog/social networking/grassroots technology route, too.
(Speaking of that, they’ve even produced a video promoting Garde Dog and put it online; you can view it here. About the only thing different I would’ve done there would be to put it on YouTube instead/as well; that’s the powerhouse of online video right now.)
Back to the beer. It’s 5.5% alcohol by volume, made with (among other things) French hops (grown in the US), German and Belgian malts, rye malt, and Belgian yeast. Yet for all that, the label comes across (once you get past the slathering fangy Cujo of a dog) as fairly patriotic—lots of red, white, and blue. Reminds me of the American flag—though the thought occurs to me that the French flag is blue, white, and red, and this could be representing that, since the style is French in origin.
Appearance: Very clear golden ale, with a crisp white head.
Smell: Sweet—Belgian candy sugar—a bit of the French-Belgian "funk" prevalent in this style of beers, a hint of tartness. A tad fruity… golden raisin? Nicely mild though, not overwhelming.
Taste: Funky, grassy, bitter; toasted malts with hop and yeast spiciness cut throughout—white pepper, grains of paradise (?), steel-cut greens (arugula?). Apparently there’s rye in this too, which accounts for the crisp and steely-bitter bite here, I think.
Mouthfeel: Crisp with a bite, as I said… fairly light but nicely firm on the tongue with a "cutting" bitter character that’s refreshing.
Overall: Pretty interesting, on the whole… I’d like to cellar this for six months and see how it ages.