Cheers to the Great Ralph Steadman
A Review of St. EADman Belgian Dark Ale by Flying Dog Brewing Co.
Posted on 1/14/2013 by Chops
                   
Great
When it comes to big bold Belgian beers, stateside breweries rarely enter the conversation. These beers conjure images of monks, monasteries, snifters and goblets. Belgian Strong Ales are often considered the true beasts of the brewing world. They are rich in flavor, massive in body, menacingly powerful, and inherently respected. So when a brewery known for palate punishing creations enters the Belgian realm, beer fans tend to take notice. This is high stakes brewing, and expectations don't get much higher than a Flying Dog Belgian Quad. Yes, you read that right. Flying Dog cracked their hopped up knuckles and decided to tackle the biggest and baddest of Belgian beers. The resulting concoction is called the St. EADman Belgian Dark Ale.

As a little back story, this beer is dedicated to Ralph Steadman, the famous British cartoonist best known for his work with Hunter S. Thompson. Per Flying Dog: ''Ralph Steadman is a prolific artist who has produced thousands of groundbreaking and influential works during the last 45 years. He has been creating original art for Flying Dog's labels since 1996.''

In the glass, this beer has a deep and hazy reddish orange coloration. It comes with a frothy light tan head that dissipates quickly. We all know that this usually means: strength, and lots of it. St. EADman clocks in at a respectable 10% ABV, not a beer to be trifled with. On the nose, I found a sweet dark fruit aroma, namely in the form of plums and raisins. The alcohol burn is also present, but resides more as an under layer. There is also a peppery character that adds a nice zesty quality to the mix. I really enjoyed this intro, but Flying Dog likes to hit you from all directions, so I went into that first sip with under caution.

This beer's mouthfeel is what immediately grabbed my attention. It has a big bold body that is syrupy thick and quite sticky. It's not every day that the first note out of the Flying Dog gate isn't the hop profile, but it arrives soon enough. Belgians aren't really known for their hop presence, but it just wouldn't be a Flying Dog version if there wasn't one. I found that the hops added a nice spicy quality to the signature bready notes of a good Belgian. The hops are allowed to assert themselves on the finish, creating a long lasting bitter fruity aftertaste. The dark fruit notes themselves have a candied vibe and take the forms of plums, pears, and tart cherries.

Overall, Flying Dog's St. EADman Belgian Dark Ale is a delicious brew with a zany personality. It freely plays with style boundaries, which we have come to expect from Flying Dog. Consequently, I can't say that St. EADman is a fantastic Belgian, but it's certainly a delicious creation that deserves to be recognized. Belgian purists may scoff at this nectar, but fans of wacky imperials will certainly embrace it. I personally really enjoyed the experience. It makes me wish that there were more aggressive Belgians on the market. Who knows, maybe Flying Dog can take up that mantle and run with it. You have a green light from this beer geek.

In closing, I offer a toast to the great Ralph Steadman! May your labels stay funky and fresh. Cheers!

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St. EADman Belgian Dark Ale by Flying Dog Brewing Co.
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