What's On Tap: The Craft Beer Newsletter: Volume 2, Issue 10 / October 1995

In Portland: Hair of the Dog Really Barks

If you live in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Pennsylvania, or Massachusetts, count yourself among the lucky few: You probably can buy some Hair of the Dog at your well-stocked local beer store.

This is a beer worth seeking.

After a weekend immersed in fine suds at the 8th annual Oregon Brewer's Festival, it's What's On Tap's concensus that the most interesting beer came from this tiny Portland brewery. Brewers Alan Sprints and Doug Henderson founded Hair of the Dog on shoestring financing in November, 1993. They brew just two beers for sale: Golden Rose, a Belgian-tripel-style strong ale, and Adambier, a German strong ale popular a few hundred years ago in Dortmund.

That's right. This is great, high gravity, bottle-conditioned beer with an intellectual and historical underpinning.

"We're trying to specialize in new and unique beer styles," Alan explains. "We're trying to fill a gap between microbrewed beer and regular beer. We were both beer lovers, then homebrewers, so making interesting beer was foremost when we started our brewery."

Both beers are interesting indeed.

Golden Rose evolved after Sprints made a trip to Belgium. For their inspiration, they have an old refrigerator in their warehouse brewery well-stocked with Rochefort 8 and 10, the extremely hard-to-obtain brews from the Rochefort Trappist monastery in Belgium. Such rich, heady brews are true inspiration and Golden Rose proves it.

This was Hair of the Dog's Oregon Brewer's Festival beer. It's a light-copper color with a particular Belgian yeast aroma. There's lots of fruit in the mouth and the feel is rich and sweet- thanks to the addition of candy sugar, a Belgian specialty, with a bit of tang in the follow.

Whew! We gave it a 94.

It's bottle-conditioned - a tiny charge of fresh yeast is added when the beer is bottled. So fermentation continues as the beer ages. This one's a keeper. Try them over time.

Golden Rose is interesting, but the thought behind Adambier is profound.

"Adam beer is actually a German beer style, but it hasn't been made with regularity in the last few hundred years," Alan says. "It was originally produced in Dortmund. And at the time, it was aged for 10 years before it was consumed."

"There's an interesting story that King Frederick William IV of Prussia was offered a tankard of Adam, and being a king, he downed it in one drink and passed out for 24 hours."

Sprints says that when they started on Adam, all they had was the beer's strength. There was no recipe.

"We had to imagine what type of beer would have been produced in that part of the country at that time. Beers made in that period would have been dark, because of techniques used in producing malts. They were dried over wood fires. So we added peat malt for a smoky effect."

Then we looked at alts still made today near Dortmund," he said. "And we went from there."

Adambier is a dark brown with a lot of fruit in the aroma. It's rich and full in the mouth with a hoppy, roast and smoked malt follow. The smoke - in delicate quantities - lingers. We scored it a 93 and rushed out and bought some more to take home.

They also make a third beer, Eve, which is not for sale. It's an ice beer with real vigor. The brewers say that they froze Adambier; the almost distilled liquid remaining after the ice was tossed is Eve. The pour is very flat, but the nose is absolutely huge. It's rich and sweet in the mouth with a slight tang from the hops and the very high alcohol in the aftertaste.

As we pulled into the rental stall at Portland's airport, the saddest thing happened: Two bottles of Eve smashed against each other and one bottle was broke. Not even those notorious "air fresheners" that rental companies use could cover the heady aroma of a bottle of Eve.

Golden Rose, Hair of the Dog Brewing Company OG 1.072. ABV 7.5%. SRM 7, IBU 12. Blends of malts with Belgian candy sugar added. 94. A keeper.

Adambier. OG: 1.094. ABV: 9.5%, SRM: 22, IBU: 56. Blend of six malts, including a touch of peat (smoked) malt, Northen Brewer, Tettnanger hops. 93. Amazing. Try keeping a bottle for 5 years.

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