Tasting – Flying Dog Horn Dog Barley Wine

Posted on 01.17.08 5:30PM under Barley Wine, Tasting

Flying Dog Horn Dog Barley WineYesterday I wrote about the informational packaging on Flying Dog’s six-pack holders. Quick summary: there’s a light-dark scale and a malty-hoppy scale. Info is good and all, but what really matters is, of course, what’s inside the bottle. The upcoming Session for February 1st is themed on Barley Wines. Fortunately, I’ve been after this style of beer pretty much since the end of Oktoberfest, so I’ve been around the Barley Wine block. No cramming needed the week of the session. Not to worry – that doesn’t mean no more Barley Wines. I still might have to lean in the favor of a Barley Wine if the opportunity arises between now and then. Like now.

Considering the value of informative packaging, and in the spirit of Barley Wine, I have for you tonight a reflection on my tasting of the Flying Dog Horn Dog Barley Wine. Of course, I got mine at Gordon’s, where I get practically all my beer, since there’s always something that they have that I want to buy but can’t justify buying due to the large volume of beer already at the counter with my name on it. Which lures me to return to face the same situation next time. Oh yes, the Horn Dog.

I still can’t help wonder what the hell a horny dude has to do with a Barley Wine, as that’s all I can think of with the name “Horn Dog”. But the label is pretty cool – I like the dark colors, with the bright blue and deep purple. And I guess the dog does have a horn. But still…trying not to picture… Anyway, it’s what’s inside that really counts now. And this beer makes the most of what’s in there – a really good example of an American Barley Wine.

This beer has a big malty-raisiny smell that you’d expect from a Barley Wine, as well as a nice chocolatey-cherry aroma. An interesting and uncommon aspect here is that I can detect hops in the nose of this one. A nice American interpretation on an old classic style.

The beer is dark brown, with hardly any head, and a few floating yeasties in there. Didn’t realize it was bottle-conditioned, but I’m happy to find that. My recommendation: pour gently if you can. At the same time, I never really noticed the floaters in there unless I really struggled to look for them, since the beer is adequately dark and the flavor is…well I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

This beer is a great big hoppy fruity Barley Wine. Hop, malt, and alcohol flavors all play together nicely in this beer. Again, the assertive hop presence is somewhat uncommon in the Barley Wine style, but it is a welcome addition. All the smells come through in the flavor, in a nice integrated way. Another nice aspect is the fact that the high (over 10%) ABV is pretty well masked in here. I would have guessed it was more like 9% – still a lot, but the point is that it isn’t easy to hide alcohol.

In the mouth, this beer is big, full, rich, and smooth. Perfectly matched to not only the style in general, but also to the particular flavors here, too.

This is a nice after-dinner beer to be enjoyed with a stimulating conversation and some good cheese. To me, it’s greatest weakness is the appearance – the floaties were a bit of a turn off at times. It’s greatest strength is the hop presence across all your senses – provides a nice balance to the high malt and alcohol presence. I have put two beers from this four pack into the cellar where they may rest until next dark season. I expect the hops to mellow a bit, but the whole flavor should become even more well integrated, and maybe the floaties will drop out and stay there.

Read Comments

  1. Posted by Stephanie on 01.21.08 1:20 PM

    Hey,

    Just wanted to thank you for reviewing the Horn Dog Barley Wine! I work for the brewery and love hearing about people enjoying out beer! If you would like me to send you samples shoot me an email and I’ll get some in the mail!

    Cheers,
    Steph