Flying Dog’s ‘Old Bay beer’ debuts in D.C. tomorrow

The ominous-looking crab on Dead Rise's label was created by illustrator Ralph Steadman, who provided the art for Hunter S. Thompson's work. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)
The ominous-looking crab on Dead Rise's label was created by illustrator Ralph Steadman, who provided the art for Hunter S. Thompson's work. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

After weeks of anticipation, Flying Dog's Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale – aka "that beer made with Old Bay" – makes its D.C. debut at ChurchKey tomorrow. Dan Steinberg has already written an extensive post about how this beer came to be, so I thought I'd offer my two cents on what it actually tastes like. (Caveat: I've had it poured from a bottle on three occasions, while the beer at ChurchKey will be on draft.)

If you're expecting an Old Bay bomb, you might be disappointed. Dead Rise is a really nice German-style wheat ale with a crisp dose of floral hops. To me, the Old Bay notes come out in celery salt, white and black pepper, and a little garlic salt, rather than the cumin and cardamom that many people associate with Maryland's favorite spice. There's still mustard, allspice and other herby flavors there, but they don't beat you over the head.

The result is a beer with a pronounced salinity – I compared it to a gose after my first sips – that would be refreshing on a hot summer day. Sure, it's ideal for sipping with a pile of blue crabs steamed in Old Bay (or, to be fair, J.O. Spice), but I'd be happy to drink this on its own on my patio.

Thursday's party begins at 4 p.m. and features six Flying Dog beers on draft, including perennial favorites Bloodline Blood Orange IPA and Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout. Expect to see Dead Rise in bars all over the area by the weekend.

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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