Dog Labels

Don’t miss these holiday classic favorites
Story by Jeff Stites
For this month’s Pet Issue, I figured I’d review some pet beers. Not beers you cuddle and love and call “George” mind you, but beers with a pet on the label or in the name. It seems there are very few, if any, beers named after cats or goldfish or ferrets or cockatiels or pot-bellied pigs (but how cool would a pot-bellied pig beer be?), so what we have is beers featuring man’s best friend, the dog. It stands to reason, I guess. Beer, like your dog, is always there for you, always loyal and true, and is happy to be by your side in good times and bad. Before I try to justify this any further, lets get to sampling some beer, shall we?

Ellie’s Brown Ale, Avery Brewing Co. 5.5% ABV 28 IBU
The label says: Named after our beloved chocolate lab, this beautiful, deep russet brew is dominated by a chocolate and brown sugar maltiness with hints of vanilla and nuts, producing a very smooth, well-balanced and quaffable brown ale.
My take: First off, how funny is it that Word flags “maltiness” as a misspelling but not “quaffable”? But on to the beer! This is delicious. Ellie would be proud, I’m thinking. Without adding any actual chocolate to the mix, this ale has an unmistakable chocolate flavor that blends really well with the maltiness. The liquid is a deep, dark brown and it smells just as good as it tastes. Oh, and it gets extra points because the can is labeled “Lab Tested.” Get it?
Old Leghumper Robust Porter, Thirsty Dog Brewing Company 5.8% ABV, 24 IBU
The label says: This robust porter is dark brown in color and full bodied with a malty sweet taste. Deep roasted, yet silky smooth! Two types of roasted malts, including roasted chocolate malt, give this beer its award-winning flavor.
My take: This is similar to Ellie’s in its use of chocolate malts, and it carries the flavors off just as well. As a porter, Old Leghumper is more robust and a bit thicker than Ellie’s, but personally, I love that. The beer is as dark as the black lab on the label with just a hint of bitterness and lots of maltiness that stays with you long after the beer is gone. I love a beer with staying power!
Wyndridge Farm Barn Dog Chocolate Vanilla Imperial Porter 7% ABV 20 IBU
The label says: Come and get it old sport! From the windswept hills of Pennsylvania comes a farm-crafted chocolate imperial porter. Wyndridge Farms Barn Dog is a good-natured, hard-working porter for a refined palate.
My take: The vanilla in this sweetens things up a bit, but maybe a bit too much. It’s not entirely unbalanced though and not at all a bad beer. For fans of chocolate porters, and I’m one of them, this is a good brew. The label explains that it uses Ghana cacoa nuts (so the chocolate in this is not just chocolatey tasting malt) and Madagascar vanilla beans.
Want to know something about Madagascar vanilla beans? See, vanilla beans can be sourced from Tahiti, Mexico and Madagascar, but Madagascar produces the sweetest specimens. They are in high demand because of a resurgence in vanilla-flavored beverages and food. This is the best thing to happen to Madagascar since the island was home base to pirates preying on trade routes from Asia to Europe and the Americas, including one Captain William Kidd. So there you go, beer and pirates in one article. You’re welcome.
Thirsty Dog Brewing Company Siberian Night Imperial Stout
9.7% ABV 58 IBU
The label says: Imperial Stouts are by far the “Grand Daddy” of all stouts. They are very, very dark and rich, with a deep-roasted, satisfying flavor. Siberian Night is made in this tradition. It is creamy and full-bodied with a complex character from generous amounts of roasted, toasted, and caramel malts. For those who demand flavor, this is the perfect libation.
My take: It truly is full of flavor, but maybe too full for me. I love malty beers and am learning to appreciate hoppy beers, but malty and hoppy in one is a bit too much flavor (or too many flavors), I think. There’s too much going on for any one feature to be truly enjoyable. This beer doesn’t know if it’s chocolatey or bready or coffee or floral, because it’s all of these things in almost equal measure. I’m not saying it’s bad at all, as someone with a more sophisticated palette may find this beer one of the best ever. It’s just not the beer for me.
Thirsty Dog Brewing Company Scarlet O’Hoppy 6.3% ABV 60 IBU
The label says: This IPA invites you in with bright citrus notes that fall off into an earthy backdrop.
My take: Scarlet O’Hoppy is a great representation of an American India Pale Ale. It’s very hop-forward. Actually, it’s the opposite of the above Imperial Stout as this brew is all about hops. And it keeps the flavor profile very simple as well. Hops can give beer a variety of flavors from citrus to pine to floral and this one sticks very much in the citrus realm. It works very well for what it is and I’m sure it will make anyone who finds a beer called “O’Hoppy” appealing very, very happy.

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