Many of us have been on the Flying Dog Brewery tour, but did you know Flying Dog has a whole slew of classes to morph you into a beer genius ? On Saturday, the hubs and I went on the Flying Dog University: Beer Geek Tour and had an absolute blast in addition to gaining some pretty cool beer knowledge. Justin is the instructor for all the Flying Dog University classes/activities and in addition to knowing his stuff when it comes to the Beer Industry, he is absolutely hilarious and will keep you entertained the entire time.
So first- What is so different about the Beer Geek Tour? Isn’t it the same thing as the Brewery Tour? Nope. The Beer Geek Tour lasts about 2 hours where you get to take a more in depth look at the brewing process, fermentation, yeast management, quality control and packaging. On the Beer Geek Tour you get “all up in there” and get to walk up to and in between the equipment in all the various areas of the Brewery that are not necessarily on the regular tour. In true Flying Dog fashion, the class ends with special tastings of newly released and pilot beers.
I don’t want to give all the awesomeness we learned away, so here are some snap-shots/highlights from the Beer Geek Tour along with a few a few facts I found pretty cool.
To start, we checked out the Masher, Lauter Tun and Brew Kettle area, where we learned a ton about the ingredients that go into making beer. Each of us were given a sample tasting of the Wort (liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing process)
** Fun Fact- Why are boots hanging from the ceiling? Those brew masters who have moved on to open their own brewery or become a brew master elsewhere get to retire their boots- which are hung from the ceiling as tribute.
Fermentation is next in the process. The Fermentation room is huge. Justin let us have a sample of Lucky SOB in the middle stages, straight from the fermentation tanks. We also learned how the yeast is harvested, which opened up a can of worms with the discussion of how some people brew beer with beard yeast. (I just can’t)
We took a quick look at the filtration system before heading into the bottling/canning + labeling rooms. I forget the numbers but the bottling machine can fill/cap an insane number of bottles a minute. (not to mention costs an insane amount) Being a marketing major this part of the tour really amazed me. I loved hearing Justin discuss the direction of beer packaging and the current social stigma of cans (the attitude that only cheap beer comes in a can despite the many advantages).
The last stop on the brewery tour was the quality assurance lab. It was pretty neat to hear all the goes behind the quality and consistency aspect of Flying Dog. (so much more than just taste testing and a super sensitive palate!)
Finally, we headed back to the classroom for some brew tastings. We first sampled my favorite beer, Kujo! But this Kujo was conditioned with whiskey soaked oak chips and served out of a ferkin (a small cask/keg) which made it even better! The second beer was a new creation still in the development process, a tart Berliner Weisse. Lastly we were able to sample the Rum Barrel Aged Gonzo- so so good you guys!
We all sipped our brews while chatting about beer stuff and random facts.
Did you know historically beer is not supposed to be served ice cold? It was usually stored in a cellar- the slightly warmer than ice cold temperatures allows you to be able to taste more of the flavors in the beer.
What do you know about sour beers? I have not had the chance to try sour beers yet, but I hear they are all the rage. (and pair perfectly with Salmon!) So why hasn’t Flying Dog conquered a Sour Beer? Sour beers are harder to make thank you think. You have to have separate equipment that only is used in the making of sour beers in order not to cross contaminate. So if Flying Dog goes down the sour beer route- they want to do it right!
Water variation- So many of us Fredericktonians have seen the Frederick News Post and know that Flying Dog is looking to open a brewery over by the airport. Right now water tests are being done to see if the water in the area would be practical for Flying Dog to use. Different types of water dictate what type of beer you would be best at making and. For instance the type of water found in Ireland historically thrives in the making of stouts. (my favorite!)
Do disposable kegs exists? Why yes they do and they are becoming common in the UK. Think how a box of wine works.., There is a clear plastic shell with a bag that is tapped, which in some cool way keeps the beer fresh and delicious and can be recycled versus having to be returned and rented like with traditional kegs. Pretty cool!
I was blown away about all the events Flying Dog offers. Coming up is a wood working class with Pumphrey Wood Works where everyone is able to make their own wooden 6 pack carrier stained with a BEER stain. Pretty awesome!
Other Flying Dog University Classes Include:
Beer 101: Craft Beer Basics – A rigorous exploration of the history of beer, the brewing process and the four ingredients in beer. Register now for Beer 101 on Saturday, January 23 or Friday, February 26.
Beer 201: Advanced Brewing Techniques – An in-depth look at how advanced brewing processes, like dry hopping and using unique ingredients, affect the end beer. Register now for Beer 201 on Saturday, January 30 or Friday, March 4.
Beer 301: Beer and Food – A breakdown of how beer interacts with food by comparing beer and wine and reviewing tips on pairing beer with food, storing and aging beer and cooking with beer. Register now for Beer 301 on Saturday, February 6 or Friday, March 11.
Some classes that are in the works include a beer cooking class and a beer & charcuterie pairing class which I just cannot wait for. (foodies unite!)
Huge thanks to Flying Dog for hosting us and to Justin for being an amazing guide! We had such a great time and cannot wait for the next Flying Dog University Event!Masher + Brew Kettles Fermentation Room Filtration SystemBottling/Canning Room Labeling Room Quality Assurance Lab The Classroom + Tastings The Tasting Room **a huge thanks to Flying Dog for hosting us! As always all opinions and pictures are my own.