Sep 14, 2018

Flying Dog Alpha Initiative #03

It’s amazing to see (and taste) what Maryland’s Flying Dog has accomplished with their IPAs over the years. From limited, one-off single-hop imperial IPAs that have left a lasting mark on my memory to their ever popular Raging Bitch and Snake Dog, the brewery just seems to extract the best from their ingredients to great effect. This is my first encounter with their Alpha Initiative and I am no less surprised and impressed with the inventiveness and overall experience.

Flying Dog’s Alpha Initiative project serves as a sandbox for the company’s brewers to play around with the IPA style with regard to ingredients and process. Initiative #03 (6.8% ABV) employs a healthy dry hopping of Galaxy hops in tandem with a hop oil — derived from a number of unknown varieties — to create a unique flavor profile. The label description depicts this IPA as tropical and juicy, but it didn’t really come across that way for me. It’s got a good bit of fruit flavors within its golden depths, but they present themselves a bit softer than expected. The beer isn’t quite an pungent as I had expect either as grapefruit, pine, apricot, wildflower honey and grain glide smoothly over the palate to a lasting, lightly drying finish.

I can’t say for sure what I was expecting when I first picked this IPA up off the shelves, but in usual Flying Dog fashion, the beer delivers something completely unexpected. While I assumed the hop oils would have provided a near-lethal does of hoppy goodness, instead we’re greeted by a fairly mellow and delicate flavor profile that is still quite tasty, but not as impactful as anticipated. Alpha Initiative #03 is an experiment in the end and just like the company’s other test releases, some folks are gonna love this one and others, not so much.