Flying Dog has always been one of the only breweries whose marketing scheme and bottle designs actually make me averse to trying their beers. There’s just some weird things going on there; it all kind of reminds me of twisted, Salad Fingers-type stuff and in general says “odd”, not “awesome”. But I can admire them for the sole fact that they’re a craft brewery, and curiosity got the best of me a little while back while perusing the shelves at Cost Plus World Market. What’s a Snake Dog…?

No matter if it’s an actual animal or not: this is a full-fledged American IPA, and a darn good one at that. It’s hoppy, it’s tasty, and at 7.1% ABV it’s also pretty powerful. Initially you’re hit with a bursting citrus aroma almost like orange juice (there’s a good malt presence coupled with the Columbus dry-hopping), but there’s also a tinge of fresh cut grass in the smell. The color is a perfect medium gold, with lacing that clings to the side of the glass and creates a thin layer of foam you have to break through with each sip. Even without drinking it this is an above average IPA. But…you’re going to want to go ahead and down it. The bitterness is potent but not overwhelming, and it’s very “clean”. Not like liquid Drain-O clean…just crisp and simple. Apparently this is a characteristic of Warrior hops, and I like. A lot. The crystal malts provide some definite body and sweetness, but that clean bitterness just carries throughout. Every sip seems “full”, for lack of a better description; nothing has been overlooked. Hops dominate throughout, a toffee sweetness mingles at times, carbonation is solid, and there is no off-flavor or strangeness in the mouthfeel. I enjoyed it to the last drop, and probably would’ve grabbed another if I’d had one laying around.

This is pretty close to an instant classic as far as American IPAs go (in my book, anyway). If you can get past the semi-grotesque labeling, you’re in for a treat.

ABV: 7.1%

Grade: A-