Scrolling Headlines:

Pat Kelsey informs UMass AD Ryan Bamford of change of heart just 35 minutes before scheduled press conference -

March 23, 2017

Past and present UMass football players participate in 2017 Pro Day Thursday -

March 23, 2017

Pat Kelsey reportedly backs down from UMass men’s basketball coaching position -

March 23, 2017

Students react to new fence around Townehouses -

March 23, 2017

‘Do You Have The Right To Do Drugs?’ debate held in Bowker Auditorium -

March 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to build on three-game winning streak against Brown -

March 23, 2017

UMass softball riding five-game win streak into first Atlantic 10 showdown -

March 23, 2017

Sanzo: Inability to win close games has hurt UMass baseball -

March 23, 2017

Hannah Murphy scores 100th career goal in UMass women’s lacrosse 16-9 win over Harvard -

March 23, 2017

Old age does no harm to indie rock legends The Feelies -

March 23, 2017

A track-by-track breakdown of Drake’s new project -

March 23, 2017

When a president lies -

March 23, 2017

Let them eat steak, and other gender norms I hate -

March 23, 2017

Dissecting Science: Episode Two -

March 22, 2017

Holy Cross 10-run eighth inning sinks UMass baseball -

March 22, 2017

UMass students react to Spring Concert lineup -

March 22, 2017

Letter: Vote yes for Amherst -

March 22, 2017

You don’t have to walk alone -

March 22, 2017

Tyler Bogart and D.J. Smith lead UMass men’s lacrosse during three game win streak -

March 22, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse emphasizes defense in approaching games as its key to gaining momentum for conference play -

March 22, 2017

Beer and Loathing: The art of Flying Dog Brewing Company

Facebook

Chances are if you know who Hunter S. Thompson is then you know about Ralph Steadman. Steadman is the oddball British cartoonist responsible for the creepy caricatures associated with Thompson’s work, particularly the seminal musings on Gonzo journalism in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Aside from his work with Thompson over the years, Steadman has also provided the artwork for the Flying Dog Brewing Company, whose labels and packages are just as unique as the brews they contain.

Flying Dog founder George Stranahan lived a mere stone’s throw away from Thompson’s fortified compound in Colorado and the two bonded over their mutual love of politics, explosives and ales. In fact, Thompson introduced Stranahan to Steadman and thus sparked a partnership that has succeeded well beyond Thompson’s death in 2005. Steadman’s unique graphics are displayed on all Flying Dog products, an exhibit that gives this brewing company a definite edge over the more plainly labeled beers.

Admittedly, this brewing company first caught my eye on the sole basis of the artwork; as a lifelong fan of both Thompson and Steadman, I was intrigued by the “Fear and Loathing” style graphics and their distinguishing presentation among the monotony of the typical blue or white beer labels. While the names of the brews were all provocative, with such treasures as Gonzo Imperial Porter and Doggie Style Pale Ale, I helped myself to a six-pack of Old Scratch Amber Lager with a cartoon of two deranged insects smiling wickedly on the label. Even if I ended up hating the beer, I knew I would at least dig the artwork. Yet the first sip heralded a pleasant surprise: a strong lager with a definite bite and a taste as original as its package.

Under normal circumstances I am not a fan of lagers; I prefer the heftier taste of a good IPA or a porter, but Old Scratch has renewed my faith in lager beer. The thick off-white head that appears while pouring this mildly carbonated brew into a glass quickly settles to a thin lacing atop the dark copper color. There are definite zings of bold hops even in the first sip, but the aftertaste is sweet and reminiscent of caramel, a flavorful combination not typical of lagers. While grassy herbal notes are strong in the aroma, they do not overpower the subtle fruitiness that makes this beer enticing. Hints of spices and roasted nuts complement a smooth taste that finishes with a yeasty edge that is not unlike most microbrew ales. Old Scratch has, overall, a refreshingly vivid flavor combination, especially for a lager.

While Old Scratch may not be for everyone, it is definitely worth a try for those who prefer less intimidating beers. Fans of lager-style beer will appreciate the flavorful reprieve from the humdrum taste of Budweiser and Corona and even fans of craft beers and IPAs can appreciate the subtleties of hop infusion and malt composition. For those drinkers looking for something a little more daring, Flying Dog has a delicious array of seasonal brews that hit the liquor store shelves periodically such as The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout, both of which are as appetizing as their titles. Flying Dog’s signature brew is a Belgian-style IPA called Raging Bitch that is available year-round for a reasonable price. In fact, all Flying Dog products are reasonably priced, available in six-packs for under or around $10. For those of us drinking on a college student’s budget, this is wonderful news.

This beer will certainly taste good anywhere, but I highly recommend sipping it while watching Johnny Depp in his prolific role as Thompson in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or even the lesser known “Where the Buffalo Roam,” starring Bill Murray. Something about watching the antics of the Gonzo himself somehow enhances the flavor of a beer that was partly his doing. So here’s to you, Hunter S. Thompson; I hope they serve Old Scratch wherever you are now.

Emily Brightman can be reached at eabrightman@student.umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “Beer and Loathing: The art of Flying Dog Brewing Company”
  1. Thompson has influenced the past few generations with his invention of Gonzo Journalism. The Good Doctor broke the mold on writing and changed the world and the voice of counter-culture. His work and antics will live on to influence even more generations to come. I paid tribute to Hunter S Thompson and his work with my portrait and article on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/02/in-memoriam-hunter-s-thompson.html

Leave A Comment