30 June 2010

The sad end of a great beer? UPDATED

Unconfirmed reports (at least unconfirmed by yours truly yet, who's too busy with work) have reached me via Baltimore Beer Guy that Flying Dog has brewed its final batch of Wild Goose Oatmeal Stout.  Reportedly Alonso's in Roland Park will tap a keg on Friday.

If so, my heart is breaking a little.

Wild Goose has always had a soft spot in my heart, with its original English-style, Ringwood-edged beers being the first true "craft" beer to win my affections back in 1987, its founding year.  Now, twenty-three years and three company changes later, the Wild Goose brand is at risk of being consigned to the same history pages as it itself rendered Blue Ridge, Brimstone, and Frederick Brewing over the years.  Of course, I'd sampled Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout before I had sampled Wild Goose's, but I always preferred the Goose and saw to it that I picked up a sixer or more every fall.

The question now becomes, will the Wild Goose brand itself be next?  For all intents and purposes, we're down to the Amber, the IPA, and the seasonal Snow Goose.  The website has been reduced to a placeholder image.  In one sense, however, the beer has never been "the same" since Frederick Brewing never resumed the use of the open-fermenter Pugsley system, installed in Cambridge's abandoned oyster cannery and moved up to Frederick but apparently never installed.

And as much as I love most of the products now coming out of the Frederick brewery under the Flying Dog name, I simply abhor the continued use of obscenities in the company's tactless marketing.  Call me an uptight prude if you want, but I feel if you have to resort to such gimmickry to push your stuff to the demographic that extols such language, well, fine, but don't expect me to share such marketing with others.

And right on the heels of the apparent downturn in Wild Goose comes Chicago's Goose Island, another excellent brewery--complete with the white goose-neck-and-head tap handles that caused Wild Goose a major legal tussle over a decade ago.  I think I'll drag out MY original Wild Goose tap handle and take it to Alonso's on Friday...............

And in other news, Flying Dog is hosting a free tasting at The Wine Source in Hampden this weekend--Friday 3-7 and Saturday 12-4.  I doubt they can bring that Winnebago they were using for FD marketing into Hampden, but it would fit in with Hampden's kitsch.

I think I'll stop by and buttonhole a FD rep or two.

Tasting notes from www.beermonthclub.com, which featured Wild Goose Oatmeal Stout in Nov. 2008:

Let this beer warm up to the suggested serving temperature to experience what the brewer intended for you to taste. Expect an inviting aroma with notes of coffee, dark bittersweet chocolate, raisins, figs, rolled oats, multigrain bread, orange bitters, currants, and syrup. We found the flavor to be more firm than the nose implies, with bitterness coming in first and not bashful in the least. Bitterness fades to let mellow dark chocolate, and coffee notes emerge, along with some orange-peel and cocoa notes, a prominent and distinct scotch-meets-whiskey note, and then a drawn-out, super-dry, lightly bitter finish. The look is deceptive—a bit less dark than what you might expect from an oatmeal stout; but, man, does it deliver both hefts of flavor and ample body, thanks to the oats that really firm up the mouthfeel. As it warms, robust whiskey-esque notes really bloom. Partner up with thick cuts of grilled steak; we did a London Broil with the following marinade (this is for 1 steak; multiply quantity as necessary): 1 cup of Wild Goose Oatmeal Stout, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup ketchup, 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tbsp A1 Steak Sauce, 1 clove minced garlic, and 1 tsp of pepper.
Serving Temperature: 50-58° F
Int'l Bittering Units: 25
Alcohol by Volume: 6.0%
Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass or Snifter
Malts: Crystal, Chocolate, Roasted, Black, Flaked Oats
Hops: Horizon, Goldings

UPDATE: Secondhand from Flying Dog PR manager Erin Biles: "We are not ceasing production of the Oatmeal Stout, it's just not on a set schedule."  Sounds like Alonso's has some explaining to do........  from a Facebook comment, "From what Matt at Flying Dog is telling me, it is the last keg around. No more is to ever be brewed."  Mat, call Erin, or vice versa...........

1 comment:

Glenn said...

This saddens me.
I worried about Wild Goose the day Flying Dog bought them. I have never liked the Flying Dog beers much, with few exceptions. Wild Goose beers were rather unique and delicious; Flying Dog seems like 'just another beer'.
I got a bad feeling this past April when I showed up at the ballpark and Wild Goose had been replaced with Flying Dog whatever-they-call-their-pale-ale. I tried it. Not very good.
My Wild Goose money certainly will not be converted to Flying Dog money.