TIPSY TOURIST: Flying Dog Brewing

Cases of Blood Line queue up after bottling at Flying Dog in Frederick.

Cases of Blood Line queue up after bottling at Flying Dog in Frederick.

Beer glasses have to stay empty until after the tour of Flying Dog's brewery.

Beer glasses have to stay empty until after the tour of Flying Dog’s brewery.

I’ve been on a lot of brewery tours. I like beer. I like factories. So it seems like an interesting way to spend a little time.

This was, I think, the best brewery tour I’ve ever been on. I learned more about how beer is made  at Flying Dog in Frederick.

A code on cases of beer includes a date in the Julian Calendar so brewers know beer's expiration date.

A code on cases of beer includes a date in the Julian Calendar so brewers know beer’s expiration date.

After hearing the story of how Flying Dog got its name, how it moved from Colorado and Hunter S. Thompson‘s connection to the beer — you have to hear all this for yourselves — the actual tour of the brewery begins. You need the glass — which is more like a goblet — because you’re going to taste the various stages of beer along the way: the tea-like water and barley brew before fermentation, the first ferment that tastes like beer and the beers themselves after the tour.

Beer starts here with water and barley to create the sweet tea-like liquid that will later be one of Flying Dog's beers.

Beer starts here with water and barley to create the sweet tea-like liquid that will later be one of Flying Dog’s beers.

The enormous tanks where beer is fermented — some hold 500 bottles of beer — had to be lowered into the brewery through a hole in the roof.

The enormous tanks where beer is fermented — some hold 500 bottles of beer — had to be lowered into the brewery through a hole in the roof.

Tours take about 45 minutes as you pass though each stage of making, fermenting, bottling and packaging the beer. Our guide was knowledgeable with a sense of humor. I find the creation of beer (and wine for that matter) a matter of magic but as we walked through the stages of brewing at Flying Dog the whole process got a little clearer.

Flying Dog is the 33rd largest craft brewery in the country, and the largest in Maryland. The beers created here are available all over the country as well as in Europe. (It’s pretty impressive if a beer from the United States sells overseas, I hear.)

Flying Dog's tasting room is a warm spot for tasting some creative craft brews.

Flying Dog’s tasting room is a warm spot for tasting some creative craft brews.

Yet the tasting room is pretty intimate. On the afternoon of my visit, I was advised to arrive as soon as the tasting room opened to be sure I got on the 4:30 p.m. tour. They also told me weekend tours are pretty crowded so I was happy with my convivial group of about 10. The only way to get a glass of beer here is to take the tour. If you want a growler filled, you can get that any time the tasting room is open. Buy one here or bring your own. They’ll fill anybody’s growler.

So many choices, only five samples. Which to choose?

So many choices, only five samples. Which to choose?

Nice way to spend an afternoon. But then I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by a brewery tour. Thanks, Flying Dog. Thanks, Seneca. Your tour was great.

 © Text and photos
Mary K. Tilghman

Advertisements