As part of a beer reconnaissance mission to The Netherlands and Belgium, we’re taking part in an extreme brewing collaboration with Dutch Brouwerij De Molen of Bodegraven, The Netherlands, on October 21, 2010.
The collaboration brew, Bat Out Of Hell, will be brewed jointly by Flying Dog SVP of Brewing Operations Matt Brophy and De Molen brewmaster Menno Olivier. The recipe was born from the satanic mystique of De Molen’s award-winning stout Hell and Damnation and Flying Dog’s complex and mysterious Gonzo Imperial Porter.
An extreme stout, Bat Out Of Hell will combine the dark malt backbone of Hell and Damnation with the intense American hops in Gonzo.
We originally brewed Gonzo Imperial Porter as a tribute to longtime friend of the brewery Dr. Hunter S. Thompson upon his death in 2005. The Gonzo artist Ralph Steadman (who also illustrates Flying Dog’s labels) had this to say after Thompson’s death:
“If you wonder if he’s gone to Heaven or Hell, rest assured he will check out them both, find out which one Richard Milhous Nixon went to — and go there.”
It is rumored that a swarm of bats encircle our brew house every time they brew a batch of Gonzo Imperial Porter.
We hope this collaboration will result in many more spontaneous and supernatural signs that will include (but not limited to) swarming bats, smoke, cracked earth, splitting trees, and inverted lightning — all symbols of Thompson’s approval from beyond reality (most likely, somewhere around Hell and/or Damnation).
Bat Out Of Hell will only be available in Europe beginning in late December. There will only be seven hectoliters brewed, 225 liters of which will be aged in oak barrels. The 475 remaining liters will be packaged in 750 ml bottles.
It was a full moon. A lone wolf howled in the distance while a slight breeze shook the hop vines on our patio terrace. Many beers were consumed that night; a mellow and somber mood had set in. Then, like a random strike of lightning, our VP of Marketing leapt to his feet and proclaimed, “We are going to have a Halloween party at the brewery. And it will be epic.”
With live music and art, haunted brewery tours, pumpkin smashing, a $500 costume contest, and open bars with 12 Flying Dog brews on tap, epic it will be.
Tickets are $30. To limit chaos, calamity, and all-around overcrowding, tickets are being sold by tour time and limited to 20 people per tour. If you do not want to go on a haunted tour of our brewery, select the “No Tour” option.
Only 150 tickets will be sold, so it’s sure to sell out quick. Buy yours today…or else (muah, ah, ah).
You’d be up shit’s creek if you didn’t know where to find Flying Dog at In the Street. Right? Right.
Add cartography to our multitude of talents, as the map below is your key to Downtown Frederick, MD tomorrow for the annual In the Street Festival. We’ve got Raging Bitch, Gonzo, and more at VOLT’s patio, a firkin of Doggie Style in the Olde Town Beer Garden, and our limited-edition Coffee Stout as a pick-me-up once you make it to 7th Street.
In a given week, we produce about 35,000 gallons of beer. A result of that, aside from the pretty fucking awesome end product, is between 90,000 to 138,000 gallons of wastewater.
Admittedly, there are few of us who kick back with a beer and think about how a brewery our size handles such a large amount of wastewater. It’s an important consideration, though, since that water eventually makes its way down two Maryland rivers and into the Chesapeake Bay.
So we asked Matt Brophy, our VP of brewing operations, to put on his Bill Nye the Science guy hat and explain the process to us. He made our heads spin with big words and acronyms, but we eventually caught on.
Wastewater is first transferred from the brewhouse, cellar, and packaging area to an outside pumping station that catches large particles (primarily spent grain and yeast residue). Each day, a local farmer picks up these nutrient-rich leftovers, which are then applied to farm fields to enrich the soil for the next season.
Then, the water is treated to reduce biological oxygen demand or BOD. Throughout the wastewater treatment process, we constantly monitor the performance of the plant ensuring that we are achieving our goal of BOD reduction.
From there, it’s transferred into an aeration tank where (you guessed it) the wastewater is constantly aerated to maintain microorganism growth. According to Brophy, we love bugs. These microorganisms help evaporate things like ethanol, which contributes to the overall BOD load. Just like brewers create the proper environment in wort for yeast, we provide the best conditions in the aeration tank for a vast variety of microorganisms to go to town.
After the aeration tank, it goes through a weir, which monitors the amount of wastewater going through the system, and into a clarifier. In the clarifier, any remaining particles are removed. (Eventually, those particles build up in a sludge at the bottom of the tank. Mmm, sludge. That’s actually transferred back into the aeration tank to keep those bugs happy.)
The wastewater’s last stop here at the brewery is a fixed media tank that acts as a holding vessel until it’s pumped (through a series of pipes) to the Frederick County municipal Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP).
And there’s your science lesson for the day, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed getting wasted here at Flying Dog Brewery.
How many Flying Dog employees does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One.
How many Flying Dog employees does it take to package a special-edition, 750 ml bottle of whiskey barrel-aged Gonzo Imperial Porter? At least seven.
Every 750 ml bottle of Flying Dog is hand-packaged – a lengthy process that is well worth it for the liquid heaven it produces.
First, our brewers transfer the beer (after it’s aged in Stranahans whiskey barrels for at least 180 days) from the barrels into a brite tank. Brite tanks are the last stop for any beer in the brewery because this is where it receives its final quality tests prior to it being packaged.
After the brite tank, the Gonzo is transferred into a portable, 90-gallon vessel called a grundy. Close your eyes and picture R2D2. That’s what a grundy looks like.
Once the beer is in the grundy, our brewers add sugar and yeast to prep the beer for bottle conditioning. (If you don’t know what bottle conditioning is, don’t worry. We’ll revisit that in a minute.)
From the grundy, the beer goes special filler and the bottles are filled, corked, and caged by hand. Don’t believe us? Take a look at these pictures (taken today) of head brewer Bob Malone and his team:
Then, the bottles sit for at least three weeks to condition. During this time, the added yeast eats the sugar to produce a mild carbonation, as opposed to standard forced CO2 carbonation. Once those three weeks are up, the bottles are hand-labeled and (finally) ready for distribution.
One day when we were having a few pints of our Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter, we tried to figure out how many days total it took to produce this liquid heaven. That made our heads hurt. So we gave up and continued to drink.
Seventy-three years ago today, Hunter Stockton Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky.
A profound influence on Flying Dog founder George Stranahan’s life, Hunter and George were longtime friends in Woody Creek, Colorado.
In his recent book Phlogs: Journey to the Heart of the Human Predicament, George describes a dynamite-and-whiskey-filled afternoon with Hunter:
One of many lady friends left her Wagoneer behind Hunter’s house; perhaps thinking it would be there if she returned…The Wagoneer stayed through more than a winter, and one day Hunter called me and barked, “Bring down some dynamite — a lot of it.”
Well, I did that, and we sat in his kitchen drinking whiskey as he spilled out his need to eliminate the Wagoneer from his view and his memory. There were fist poundings and many loud “Goddammits,” and more whiskey.
Eventually it became time to act; there is some rationality required when mixing whiskey and dynamite. Hunter hauled a twenty five pound canister of gunpowder from the war room and we went to work. Seven sticks of dynamite were placed head to toe from mid-engine to the firewall, the gunpowder placed in the driver’s seat. My fuse burns roughly ten seconds per inch, I jammed eighteen inches into the blasting cap and crimped it with my teeth.
My rule is “walk, don’t run,” and I made it down to the picnic table with about a minute of fuse left. I didn’t look at my watch, the vagaries of fuse chemistry ensure that the explosion always comes as a complete surprise, which it did.
We were barely one hundred yards from the blast and the shock wave knocked the wind out of our lungs, yet we “yeehaaed!” hugged and clapped each other on our backs. When haying that fall I found a fender that had sailed over our heads and three hundred yards further, almost to Woody Creek.
“Walk, don’t run.” That’s wisdom we should apply to all walks of life. And we think Hunter would approve.
Happy birthday, Hunter.