Flying Dog’s Underdog Atlantic Lager

By: Benjamin Welton

Comedian and author Jim Norton is fond of saying that all comedians have vices. From gambling to sex, comedians, according to Norton, are people incapable of controlling their vices. Their only balm lies onstage, and making people laugh is their way of keeping the black dogs of depression at bay.

Comedians aren’t the only victims of such inclinations either. Writers are notorious for their unhealthy appetites, and making it all worse is the fact that the world’s greatest writers are often celebrated and lionized for also being the world’s biggest drunks. Olivia Laing’s The Trip To Echo Springs: On Writers and Drinking tries to get to the meat of the matter, while any amateur interested in investigating the link between tequila and typewriters ought to start their search in the library looking for names like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Parker, and Thompson.
The “Thompson” there means Jim Thompson, but Hunter S. could fill that space just as well. Although the king of gonzo journalism was better known for his pill habit, Thompson wasn’t averse to alcohol by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, in Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, Thompson shows himself to be the unofficial beer guru for the legendary East Bay motorcycle gang.
Apparently, the people over at Flying Dog Brewery, which is based in the unlikely locale of Frederick, Maryland, know Thompson’s drinking history well, for every product that they produce is dedicated to Thompson and Ralph Steadman – the British cartoonist who first began his working relationship with Thompson with 1970’s “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved.” The Underdog Atlantic Lager is yet another drinkable tribute to the Great White Gonzo, and it should taste good to any aspiring clicker and clacker of the keys.
First Impression: As with all the other Flying Dog brews, the Underdog Atlantic Lager’s exterior displays a Steadman original. Against a backdrop of exploding ink, a growling bitch (it might be a male, but “growling bitch” sounds better) sits perched on a barrel in a position of waiting. The bitch is all of us, and what we want is a beer – the drink that Thompson called “the drink of thugs, convicts, rowdies, rakes and other depraved outlaws who thrive on the quick bursts of night-energy…”  Personally speaking, I’ve always loved the Flying Dog labels, and this one is no different.
Pour: The Underdog Atlantic Lager is a solid and bubbly yellow that does exactly what beer should do when it hits your glass or cup. You can sniff and chew all you want, but all you’ll come away with is the correct idea that this is lager beer – nothing fancy and no gimmicks needed (RIP Chris Candido).
Taste: Because it has rye, wheat, and cara-pils malts, and also because it has perle and goldings hops, the Underdog Atlantic Lager tastes like an All-American summer. This beer is what Milwaukee should be making but isn’t. But, despite how good it tastes, this beer can’t fight the fact that it’s a lager. In the grand scheme of things, the lager is beer’s ugly cousin, and George Orwell was right when criticized any man who would take a lager over an ale. Still, for a lager, the Underdog Atlantic Lager is in fine form, and I am sure the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson wouldn’t mind a can.
Grade: B+
ABV: 4.7%
IBU: 28

Flying Dog Underdog Atlantic Lager