September 21, 2012 | Beer, Maryland Beer, Reviews

Flying Dog Brewing International Arms Race

Flying Dog Brewing International Arms Race photo

Brewdog won the coin toss and launched the first attack with their version of the Zero IBU IPA. Now, it was Flying Dog’s chance to counter-attack with their own brew based on the agreed upon ingredients — spearmint, bay leaves, rosemary, juniper berries and elderflower.

While Brewdog’s shot was a moderately sweet gruit in a more traditional sense, Flying Dog arrives with a more balanced attack if you will. The Maryland brewery didn’t rely heavily on one single ingredient, instead creating a well balanced marriage of the required items. Herbal, flowering and still containing a fairly solid malt backbone, I found Flying Dog’s version to be more approachable from a flavor standpoint and, as a result, easier drinking — even if it too weighs in at 7.5% ABV.

Appearance

This brew pours just a hair lighter in color, but still a medium amber. The head behaved in the same fashion as Brewdog’s falling rather quickly to a thin collar and sparse surface cover.

Aroma

While their opponent bombarded the nasal passages with a heavy barrage of juniper, Flying Dog diversified their aroma with less berry on the nose. There’s still a good amount of juniper here, but not in a dominating fashion. There’s more bay leaf, rosemary and a fairly pronounced flowery element, which I can only assume is the elderflower.

Taste

A caramel malt backbone supports the herbal qualities of the beer more solidly in the flavor. More herbal than berry, the beer has a nice blend of juniper, bay leaf, rosemary and elderflower to balance out the malt. I don’t pick up any of the spearmint that I enjoyed from the Brewdog sample in the mix. This brew is a little fuller and more active on the tongue than its counterpart. The higher alcohol content is masked quite well with just the slightest hint of warmth in the chest as the beer warms.

Overall

All in all, I found Flying Dog’s gruit to be more balanced and, as a result, more approachable and easy drinking. The alcohol was hidden well which also aided it in the drinkability realm. The toned down juniper berry certainly made the beer less taxing on the palate, as well. Both breweries entered some really tasty beers into the International Arms Race, but there can be but one victor. I’m giving the edge to Flying Dog this time around. I do hope, though, that these guys keep this friendly competition going with other “styles” in the future.

Rating: 3.75/5

This is a review of a promotional sample received from the brewery.

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