It took a few laps around the block and a sprint through the rain to find the Flying Dog Brewing Company's new Denver tap room, at 2330 Broadway, but it was worth the hunt.
The tiny but brightly-painted space (it's on the east side of an apartment/office building sandwiched between Broadway and Arapahoe) will play host to tastings and tappings over the summer - assuming people figure out where it is -- but not on any regular schedule, says Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso, whose office is attached to the tasting room.
For the kick off, Flying Dog featured its Coffee Stout alongside Raging Bitch, its current number-one seller - and twentieth anniversary beer. An American IPA made with Belgian yeast and Warrior, Columbus and Amarillo hops, Raging Bitch is 8.3 percent alcohol by volume, so it packs a punch after just one pint.
Although Westword's Beer Man loves it, I wasn't blown away. Despite the popularity of mixing IPAs with Belgium styles lately, the taste combination made me think of a banana coated in pine sap.
Flying Dog is currently fighting for the right to sell Raging Bitch in Michigan and New Hampshire, two states that believe the name is obscene.
And this isn't the brewery's first tangle with censorship. Flying Dog's tag line "Good Beer, No Shit," as painted in 1995 by Ralph Steadman, was initially banned by the Colorado liquor board. It took a four year fight and the help of the ACLU for the label to be reinstated. In the interim, the tag read, "Good Beer, No Censorship."
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Coloradoans who liked that "Good Beer" certainly have Flying Dog some shit in 2008 when the brewery decided to move from LoDo to Frederick, Maryland, where it is now based. Popular or not, the decision has proven to be a good business move. Sales have increased 180 percent each of the past two years, Caruso says. Flying Dog is distributing to 46 states and 29 countries, with Sweden being the number one importer.
To help celebrate, Colorado legend - and Flying Dog co-founder -- George Stranahan was on hand last night signing copies of his new book, Phlogs: Journey to the Heart of the Human Predicament. Physicist, ranch owner, school and brewery founder, author and photographer, Stranahan is the kind of guy who really sells a tweed jacket.
When I asked him about teaching at Michigan State University in the late 60's he grinned and said, "It was the war time. There were protests everywhere. Kids were getting tear gassed all the time. It was great!"
"He's who I want to be when I grow up, but I'm running out of time," Caruso says.