Febrewary: K-9 Winter Ale


Brewer: Flying Dog Brewery
Location: Frederick, Maryland
Type: English Strong Ale
ABV: 7.4%

Hey, denizens. It’s snowing. Again. It’s only supposed to be “conversational” snow, which I suppose it is…if the conversation consists of the phrase, “Damn, why is it sticking to the roads?”

Guess it’s time to seek comfort once more with a four-legged purveyor of liquid winter warmth. This time, it’s the K-9 Winter Ale from my much-adored friends at Flying Dog. As is the case with many of Flying Dog’s brews, this one comes with a happy little story:

Your legs are strained and your ass is clenched as you descend down the face. You don’t even notice the blood dripping from your nose as the powder is crushed beneath you. It’s freezing cold, but you don’t feel a goddamn thing.

Oh, Flying Dog. You spin such heart-warming tales. Fo shizzle.

Apparently, this particular brew shifts its flavor profile each year, based on the whims of its brewers. I’ve never tried it before, so I can’t make the expected comparisons with previous beers. I can, however, say that this is probably the first time that I have been decidedly “meh” toward a Flying Dog beer.

It’s a beautiful beer, to be sure—a rich ruby red topped by a luscious foam that leaves intricate lacing patterns ever-downward with each draw from the glass.

Light mouth feel, although not watery, this beer perfectly exemplifies that drink, as with life itself, is a delicate balance. This beer delivers a mild sweetness, its edges ruffled ever so gently by bitter, hoppy undertones and a surprisingly dry finish that saves your palate from the insufferable insult of that saccharine aftertaste that some beers deliver in spades.

As lovely as all that sounds, I suppose I’m spoiled by the massive, manic flavors of some of my favorite Flying Dog beers. This beer is by no means pedestrian. It simply isn’t…fierce. Still, it’s another lovely Ralph Steadman label to enjoy as well as a respite from the brash, snarling boldness of so many of Flying Dog’s other brews.

Speaking of Ralph Steadman’s labels, I wonder if Flying Dog has considered ever putting all of his labels together into a coffee table book. That would be magnificent.