"Needs more Dog" seems to be DrinkStore's opinion of the Irish beer market, which is why they're now dealing directly with the European importer Bier & Co and have increased the range of Flying Dog beers available. (A side-effect of the new arrangement is the arrival of half a dozen De Molen beers, but sure you wouldn't be interested in that kind of thing at all.)
I realised I'd never tasted some of the core Flying Dog beers so took the opportunity of their sudden availability in Ireland to give them the once-over.
Tire Bite first: a 5.1% ABV golden ale which, frankly, is a bit too strong. It's quite lagery and I can understand why the American rating sites have classified it as a Kölsch, though it's maybe a little too sweet for that: there's a touch of golden syrup, the sort of thing I'd associate more with hefty Czech lagers or even British golden ale. That's about all the description I could muster, though. It was getting unpleasantly warm as I turned it over and this is a beer very much designed to be sunk cold. A percentage point or so lower on the alcohol and I'd be more inclined to do so. Strong and bland just doesn't float my boat.
I followed it with the basic porter, Road Dog. It's another simply designed beer but even more of a thumper at 6% ABV. An attractive dark ruby hue, it delivers the juicy fresh hops up front, following them with a crisp roasted dryness. The whole experience reminds me a lot of their powerhouse Gonzo Imperial Porter, only in miniature and with balance. Overall, I reckon this is just complex enough to pass as a strong beer for taking time over, though can't help thinking that as a low-strength sessioner it would have been a real winner.
So, it turns out that the bigger, heavier Flying Dogs are my preference over the everyday ones. I suppose that has a lot to do with these everyday beers being flogged for the guts of €3 a pop. At $10 for six I'd be a lot more forgiving.