I can't remember my first Flying Dog Brewery beer. I had been drinking with my beer writer colleague Chris Hall, and it was a brutal collision between the Newcastle and London desks of Rum and Reviews Magazine. Whether I had battered my head in with their Gonzo Imperial Porter, their Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA, or some other wildly named and high abv party wrecker, is a question unanswerable. Lost in time.
The brewery recently turned 25, and the limited run Tropical Bitch Belgian-Style IPA, a tropical spin on Raging Bitch, is their Birthday Beer. Once again, it is time for your correspondent to venture into Bat Country, and add another Flying Dog head-punching beer to the tally.
The scent leaves the bottle and fills the air around it with mango, pineapple and a fertile, spicy scent of growth and renewal- the powerful Belgian yeast showing itself early in the proceedings. There are murmurs of orange peel, of pepper and a Mystery Fruit made from the wild sexual union of banana and apricot. Tropical Bitch is a muscular dog, at 8% abv, and this reporter feels the bats circling. This will be a tough one to drink slowly.
|Flying Dog labels are illustrated by Ralph Steadman, who illustrated Hunter S. Thompson's books. What a dude.|
It pours police-badge gold-tinted bronze, with a narrow and disciplined head. The scent, now coming from a wider-bore receptacle, fattens out with the banana notes taking more of a lead, until longer and deeper draws of the beer-addled air summon up a bitter and sharp grapefruit scent that reminds your correspondent of the time he was 20 and drank Greyhound cocktails relentlessly because clearly he thought he was Sinatra or something.
The first taste is farmyard and bitterness, the powerful hops and overbearing yeast making for an initial liquid hit quite unrelated to the scent. The senses adjust with the second mouthful, and blood orange, rich and almost over-ripe banana are present, swaggering alongside the earthy notes. The aftertaste, as the beer taints the air inside the skull, brings the tropicality the beer promises. Mango and pineapple linger and haunt the head-holes.
The beer feels thick and oily on the tongue, and despite its alcoholic strength it goes down all too quickly as it wrestles its flavour profile onto the tastebuds.
Getting down to the "two fingers left, I should have bought more than one bottle" point in this beer's predictably short life, the taste becomes lighter and spicier, with the tropical fruit becoming more apparent in both the taste and the aftertaste. The final mouthful is a bite into an earthy Frankenfruit, a deformed and juicy melange of tropicalia, while it still hangs from the tree.
The last aftertaste of this beer that this reporter may never have the chance to drink again hangs around on the teeth, bright tropical fruit painting the enamel, The apricot taste is the final holdout and the last to die, with bat/dog claws raised defiantly in a wordless transmission of the sentiment "fuck no, not today".