Old Scratch Amber Lager | Flying Dog Brewery

Old Scratch Amber LagerOld Scratch Amber Lager
Liked This Beer
3.42 w/ 1,537 ratings
Old Scratch Amber LagerOld Scratch Amber Lager

Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery
Maryland, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-12-2001

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,537 |  Reviews: 762
Photo of Gehrig
2.84/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Flying Dog as a brewery reminds me of Schlafly and Left hand. It produces a couple pretty good beers coupled with mediocrity. Unfortunately, in my first and perhaps last foray for a little while through Flying Dog, I find their offerings in various styles to be inconsistent. Old Scratch starts with something to offer, presenting itself nicely with a finger of off-white foam atop a reddish-orange body. So far, so good. Then the nose...nose...is there a nose to this beer? There was a faint hint of sweetness, a little malt, and my nose's voice, yelling into the bottomless aroma shaft, with nothing to echo but its futility. Terrible.

The taste salvaged this from a bottom-dweller rating, with the taste buds dragging out some fruit and a bit of ginger kicking and screaming. It shouldn't be so difficult to figure out what a beer is all about, but this, like several others from Flying Dog, is an enigma cloaked in flavorless mediocrity wrapped in a stellar Ralph Steadman label. Buckeye Nation said it best when suggesting that Flying Dog should put as much into its beers as it (or Steadman as it were) does into its labels. Then they might have something.

Instead, they've bottled mediocrity, a nice-looking but bland beer that will make me selective when considering something from Flying Dog. I remember a couple years ago, I asked a cashier at the local Friar Tuck's what he thought about Flying Dog, and he said that he didn't like their beer, but didn't elaborate. With a few exceptions, I'm not enamored with their wares, either. I'd avoid Old Scratch.

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Photo of papat444
3.73/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another bottle from my parents purchased at Total Wine in Springfield, VA on their way down south.

Poured from a 12oz. bottle.

Appearance: Pours a nice golden brown with a 2-finger head.

Smell: Nice malt aroma and some nuts also.

Taste: Malty & smooth with a faint bitterness in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Citrus-like in the mouthfeel, subdued but balanced, with very mild hops. As it warms, nut-like aspect and a certain wood quality is apparent. Maltiness maintained throughout.

Drinkability: Very sessionable, smooth to drink. Though sampled in winter, would make a good summer brew.

Overall: Dependable beer with good flavors that are subtle make this one to try again.

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Photo of foxmul924
2.58/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

(Bottle into Room-Temp Pint Glass)

Appearance: Lingering Off-White Head with Dark Amber/Red Hue.

Smell: Sweet Malts, Slightly Caramelly and Dark Fruit. Not Hoppy.

Taste: Overly Malty with Prune and Cherry Notes. Subtle Brown Sugar Finish with No Real Hop Flavor. A Bit Watery.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, Light-Medium Bodied with a Semi-Clean Finish.

Drinkability: Tastes Flat and Other Characteristics are Not Nearly Such that Might Entice Me to Have Another, Though.

Other: Not Really Impressed as an Absense of Hops Becomes Neccessary to Balance the Overly Malty Flavors.

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Photo of mattster
2.7/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into Nonic glass.

Pours a thick head of 1" that slowly dies down. Lots of lacing on sides of glass. Brew is dark amber - brown and quite clear.

Smell is malty, not hoppy. Taste is somewhat smoker with hops and earthy dry finish. Is a drinkable beer, but really needs some sort of food to accompany this brew.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.63/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz from the Coop for about $1.40.. poured into my New Belgium goblet.

Short lasting head and miniscule lacing.. Very clear copper amber.. like a shiny penny.

Aroma is clean toasted and light caramel malts.. earthy hops...

First thought is very drinkable.. but everything else on the palate leaves me with questions? Where are the hops? Should there be more body? Malt complexity? Everything is very balanced and very drinkable ... but it just seem so middle of the road that I have a hard time not questioning. Toasted and lite caramel malts a touch of chocolate .. earthy hops meld very well.. good body and carbonation.. I don't know what I am searching for here!

Simply a pretty good take on an Obvious American style.. not "Americanized" or made "extreme". Sessionable for most, but I would get bored very quickly.

My old notes show, Old Scratch as a much better beer.. I am not sure if my palate has evolved or if Flying Dog has taken a hit.. anyway, another good gateway beer that nobody could say "I don't like dark beers."

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Photo of dmamiano
2.92/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Looking like a dark cider in color.Good head from a hard pour. No lacing observed.
Nose of mildly sweet malts, biscuit, with a slight tobacco twing in the nose.
Taste is rather mild, no real hops on the palate, with a clean maltiness and finish only a lager can produce.

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Photo of ZimZamZoom
3.06/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a 7oz. sampler glass. A pretty nice looking copper color, with a decent tan head that does not last long. Lacing clings to the glass in an act of desperation... is it victorious?

Aroma of lightly roasted Bavarian malt. Nothing in the hop department. Taste is caramel and light roast malt, again hops are not evident. It finishes real clean and almost non-descript overall. Maybe a tinge of hop bitterness in the end but it goes fast.

This American Amber has some body, and is nicely carbonated. A good crossover session beer for your BMC buddies.

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Photo of SargeC
3.92/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear, caramel gold with a tan head.

Smell: Sweet malt, apple, mild hop presence.

Taste: Malt flavor starts sweet and evolves into a slightly smoky flavor. Everything is subdued thought.

Mouthfeel: Light body.

Drinkability: Decent brew, but lacks the qualities that could help this beer become a standout.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.68/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I think this beer should be the supermodel of beers. The color is so crystal clear and so perfectly red hued amber that someone should just take a picture of the damn thing. If only there were a bit more head in my tulip.

When I was a kid, my grandmother always gave us little boxes of raisins to put on our cereal for breakfast. This is exactly what it smelled like. Amazing. Talk about jarring the memory.

Flavor is a touch of tang and zingy earth. Seems a bit lop sided. Too much zing. Too much tang.

Feel has a decent carbonation to it. Liquid is a decent feel.

Overall this one is merely "okay". I can't say I am really blown away at all. The only thing that set this score higher is the appearance and fragrance of it. Other than that, it would be quite lower.

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Photo of Absumaster
3.47/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is widely available in Holland nowadays.
An amber colored beer with a thin head.

Smell of caramel and some nutty and woody notes. Clearly a bottom fermented beer with clean and very light fruity notes.

Taste of caramel, wood and nuts. The beer tastes like a spiced up pilsner with added caramel malts which increase body and taste. Typical bottom fermented beer with light, clean taste, maybe some very light sulfur. Hops are very low. Body is medium and drinkability is OK.

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Photo of bigdeuce
4/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is one solid brew in a nice line by Flying Dog. Pours a red/copper color with a nice head, a bit sticky. Nicely done, smells of nutty malts and some hops. Is very smooth and highly drinkable. A great session beer, and fairly priced. Nice baseball drinking beer that is crisp, smooth, and refreshing.

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Photo of DrJay
3.83/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very clear and deep reddish amber, this one produced a tin off-white head full of fine bubbles. It showed good head retention with some sticky lacing clinging to the glass. The aroma was pretty clean, balanced towards maltiness, with a very mild caramel character and a bit of floral hops. Mild bitterness with the balance in favour of malty sweetness. Hops were floral with a hint of citrus. Caramel came forward at the end and the bitterness really popped in the finish. Light bodied with moderate carbonation, fairly crisp, solid texture. Very easy drinking, well balanced and well made. I'd definitely have this again.

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Photo of brendan13
3.08/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Orange copper coloured beer with a couple of centimetres of off white head that falls away rather quickly. A bit of sporadic lacing.
S - Some vauge floral hop notes on top of a caramel maltiness.
T - Along the same lines as the smell. Caramel malt is a bit more dominant.
M - Light to medium bodied, a little bit sticky. Medium carbonation.
D - Decent but nothing exciting. I was tossing up whether to get this or not. Luckily I only got two bottles.

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Photo of Redteketed
3.75/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

BB 10-08
Beautiful amber color, average head, not lasting during the drink.
I sense some caramel, roasted malt and a little hop.
Nice bitter taste, dry with caramel.
Mouthfeel is light, dry and the beer has a average aftertaste.
Yes, I could enjoy more of this, if I had.

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Photo of Brad007
3.1/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a ruby-red/amber color with minimal head and lacing. Aroma is light and crisp, malty and much like an amber. Taste is malty and even somewhat smoky, somewhat of a cross between a scottish ale and lager? Mouthfeel is ok if not somewhat dullish and metallic. It's also somewhat overwhelmed by the maltiness of this beer, leaving my mouth dry. While it gets points for being drinkable, the dryness is kind of a let-down here.What's odd is the name doesn't quite match the style (California common/steam beer) and that's probably why I'm confused on style.

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Photo of Lukie
2.82/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a dark copper, with very little head, which gave away very little lacing once it died down.

A hint of mandarin, orange, and some slight citrus notes are on the nose. Nothing over powering, nothing standing out too much. Slight bready notes.

Initial taste is that of sweet caramel. It is not distinct. Maple syrupe with some hints of bread notes. There isn't much else in the taste of it. It is a sweetish lager.

It is well balanced fruity lager, with a nice refreshing mouthfeel. It is not overpowering, and could easily appeal to a mainstream market, if the price was a bit cheaper. Not bad, and I am glad I only bought a couple of bottles. Good for a try, but not something I would buy more of, if readily available in Australia.

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Photo of Traquairlover
2.76/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12-oz.bottle poured into a pint glass.

A = Attractive clear reddish brown, almost no head which quickly dissipated to nothing. No lacing.

S = Smells like Bud that somebody put some nutmeg in. Not impressed.

T = Some bitterness but I do not taste any hops. As in the smell there is some weird taste of spice like nutmeg or connamon or something. Otherwise has very little taste going for it.

M = light body, fair amount of carbonation feel.

D = I do not plan to try this again but it was not offensive such that I would turn it down if offered. As a steam beer Anchor is much better. As a lager, I'd rather have SA Boston Lager or frankly even something like PBR. Could drink this, but with so many other choices, I do not think so.

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Photo of scottyshades
3.08/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked up a Flying Dog Mixed Pack at ABC for around $13...I have tried some FDs but not all of them so I figured this would be a good buy just knowing their reputation as being a good brewing company
A: This beer literally pours orange...two finger off-white head that leaves a little lacing on the glass

S: Eh, somewhat disappointed in the nose...its just very average...nothing sticks out besides a slight hint of hops

T: Again, not too much flavor compared to other Flying Dog beers, or even other Steam beers...Slightly sweet due to the presence of caramel malts

MF: Really the mouthfeel may be the only thing that this beer really has going for it...there is pretty much no finish because all of the flavors disappear very quickly

D: This beer has a sub par drinkability...its very watery

Overall this is my least favorite offering from Flying Dog...if you are trying to convert a friend into drinking craft beer instead of those macros, this beer is a perfect segway...
But if YOU like craft beer, I wouldnt necessarily recommend this beer unless you are buying the Mix Pack (the others will carry the deadweight from this one)

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Photo of seanyfo
3.85/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

355ML Bottle poured into an imperial pint glass aggressively.
Cant say the artwork makes me want to drink this much!

A- Dark coppery, amber body, with a 2 finger rocky head that dissapates quickly to leave a thin layer.

S- Lots of fresh bready malts, vanilla, maple syrup, toffee, no real hop note here.

T- Heavy on the bready malt, as it settles on the tongue, a slight vanilla yohurt flavour comes through with caramel and syrup again. Aftertaste is a little more floral with a small hop bite. Flavours are nice and longlasting

M- Low to medium carbonation, thick creamy and sticky on the tongue.

D- Steam beers are not common on this side of the pond so this was a refreshing change. Almost tastes like a hybrid between a marzen with the sweet munich like malts, a scottish ale with the caramel sweetness and a pale ale with the after floral notes.

Not fantastically refreshing but a nice change nonetheless with a nice variety of flavours.


But please change your label artwork!

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Photo of jjboesen
2.74/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tasted at Dr. Dremo's Taphouse in Arlington (VA) on November 22, 2007. Flying Dog now readily available in the DC area since buying out Wild Goose (I think?). In any case, it settles immediately without head or lacing, the latter does make a brief appearance if the beer is swirled. As for the smell .... could not detect one.

Though mildly hopped and void if any carbonation, I thought it had the characteristics of a flat lager. It was, at least, easy on the palate; but given, other choices, I would not spend too much time with it. I was not impressed and neither was my palate. This said, I still respect the brewery and will also drink their beers should I find them. Nuff said.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.43/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

After this, I will have tried all the large-scale distributed Steam Beers, which is to say just two; Anchor Steam and Old Scratch. On to the beer:

Good dark amber appearance with orange hues on the edges. Light toasty malts and a modest brush of alcohol in the nose, a little fruity too, and caramel. Similar to Anchor Steam, but overall the flavor is a bit toned down. It's nice to see a brewery with an extended distribution network to brew this style.

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Photo of mangledorf
3.63/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Immediately: not as strong in flavor or mouthfeel as the other Flying Dog beers I've had. Beautiful honey color and light head but rather boring taste that only gets more boring after a few sips.

Retrospect: certainly not a bad beer by any means, stronger taste for a lager than average but not up to par with other beers by this brewery.

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Photo of auxiliary
4/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance - Amber color, but with a mix of brown. Nice fluffy head formed and then semmid down. Some nice lace on the glass.

smell - Sweet malt, and some hop smell here.

taste - Nice balance on the taste. Sweet malt, and grass hops here. Little bit bitter at the end of the taste.

mouthfeel - Light body.

drinkability - Easy drinking beer

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Photo of nsmartell
2.96/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I enjoyed this beer in my own living room. Poured from bottle to pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice copper red. Not much head and disappears quickly.

Smell: A slight hint of malts.

Taste: Sweet and a little hoppy.

Mouthfeel: Nice and thick. Probably the best part of this beer.

Drinkability: A decent beer, but I wasn't that impressed. This is the "California Common" I can remember tasting besides Anchor Steam.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.17/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into an over-sized Sacred Hear High School glass mug.

A: Pours a nice, copper orange with a thin, creamy white head of retention, turning to a thin lace within moments.

S: Smells sweet, slightly metallic, and a little bitter from the hop in the nose. It's inviting and refreshing.

T: The taste is a great balance between floral hop and sweet malt, with a bit of caramel candy sweetness and bubbly, copper ale bitterness. A great take on a unique style.

M: Mouthfeel is fairly thin, but refreshing and satisfying.

D: I could probably session this one forever. It;s got a great, smoky, coppery, metal hop taste, balanced out nicely with sweet, slightly burny hops. Great mixture.

Overall, I prefer Old Scratch to Anchor Steam in the steam beer/California Common market, but maybe that's just me. The Anchor Steam tends to be a tad too acrid, whereas the Flying Dog maintains a bittersweet integrity throughout the brew.

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Old Scratch Amber Lager from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 26.6% out of 100 with 1,537 ratings
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