Flying Dog Brewery
Frederick, Maryland, flyingdogbrewery.com
Because of its ties to Hunter S. Thompson (via founder George Stranahan) and the original Aspen brewpub location, plus the 50-barrel brewery that opened in Denver in 1994, many drinkers still think of Flying Dog as a Colorado beer. The fantastic label art by Thompson's pal Ralph Steadman remains iconic, too. But Flying Dog actually moved all its production to Maryland in early 2008, and has become a rather large force in the mass-craft market.
Its brews largely hold up today, as evidenced by the spring seasonal Supertramp Tart Cherry Ale (around $10/six pack). It's based off two earlier "brewhouse rarities" from Flying Dog that incorporated cherries, and uses a blend of sweet and sour cherries at the initiation of fermentation. The body leads with crispness and finishes just a tinge tart, thankfully not cloying or synthetic-tasting at all. I didn't go totally gonzo over it, but it's a nice doggie to pet. — Matthew Schniper
Back East Bar and Grill Monument
1455 Cipriani Loop, Monument, 488-2252, backeastbarandgrill.com
The former 1st and 10 Sports Bar in Monument is now home away from home for those familiar with the first Back East location in Briargate. Same feel, same theme — same menu even, for those who prefer to consume with consistency. (There's a Fireball Cinnamon Whisky dispenser at the bar, for those who prefer to consume with corn syrup.)
Let's talk about the Pizza Salad ($9.50), which sounds interesting, and is described on the menu as "strange" yet "incredible," but is really just a chicken-bacon pita made using pizza dough. Totally fine, with a chewy flatbread giving way to crunchy lettuce and big rounds of blue cheese, and totally not what it sounds like. The half-pound salted pretzel ($5.50) won't make you quit Wimberger's, but the spicy queso does an interesting tomato thing. The beef on weck ($8.95) is textbook, with tender beef and a deeply flavorful kümmelweck roll. — Bryce Crawford
Gold Camp Brewing Company
1007 S. Tejon St., 695-0344, tinyurl.com/moz5aal
Like Soirée Events & Celebrations, Gold Camp Brewing is helping transform a small stretch of drab retail on South Tejon Street. It's a cool, relaxed spot that combines a simple, industrial feel with slats of wood everywhere. Contrasting open ductwork elsewhere, one side of the dining room is just these ceilinged chill-out spots, with square cushioned benches surrounding low tables. The lights are actually golden canaries in wire cages, and paintings by local king Phil Lear phill, ha, the walls.
We ordered Gold Camp's Phoenix Phire Double IPA ($6) and Caliente Pale Ale ($5). At 9.1 percent ABV, the Phoenix is a big, beautiful beer, reminding me of New Belgium Brewing Co.'s Rampant Imperial IPA, though with less violence and more citrus. It doesn't taste as boozy as it is. Meanwhile, pouring a reddish gold with a thick, white head, the Caliente is a lovely time, with its fruity nose and clean pine notes. — Bryce Crawford