Monday, August 16, 2010

Hair of the Dog

2005 Rose Cassis

Yesterday I went to the Hair of the Dog brewery and tasting room for the first time since it officially opened its doors. There were no big surprises regarding the remainder of the build-out since Fred Fest. The kitchen equipment is in place, lights have been hung, and most importantly, the beer is flowing. Food is still two weeks out, but I was told there will be a few pasta dishes, some salads, house cured meats, a rotating braised meat dish, cheese, chocolate, and voodoo donuts.

The beer list right now is pretty great. All the standards plus some of the rarer house beers are available on tap, and there is a pretty extensive list of vintage bottles to choose from for in-house consumption. I started my day off with a glass of Cherry Adam. The beers are served in very attractive branded tulips, and at $6.50 for a 12 ounce pour, the draft option is a good deal.

From the Cherry Adam, I moved on to a beer I had never tried before; a bottle of 2005 Rose Cassis. This beer had an appearance unlike any I'd ever seen prior. It poured a turbid purple brown, a color this tripel picked up from the addition of currants in the recipe. True to it's name, the Rose Cassis had a floral quality in both the nose and taste. It was really delicious, and something I feel very fortunate to have tried.

Later in the day I returned to Hair of the Dog with another friend for a second round at that menu. I started with a 2008 Fred from the Wood, and then moved on to split a bottle of 09 Matt with a friend. The Fred from the Wood was great, but it was not my first time sipping a vintage one. The Matt however, was a fantastic first time experience for me. I likened parts of the Matt flavor profile to parts of the original Adam, but with a lighter, more drinkable mouth feel, and a roasty drier finish like that of a stout. I learned the beer was a stronger one than Adam, but the lighter feel was a result of the addition of candy sugar and a higher percentage of roasted malt. A delicious beer, and one I eagerly await the next release of.

Around the time we ordered the bottle of Matt, Alan came over and sat down with a few of us at the bar. He had a lot of great stuff to say about what we were drinking, and the future of the bar, as well as the other things he's been working on at HotD. Future offerings at the tasting room that are already aging in oak include another batch of Cherry Fred, Fred Flanders, Bourbon Fred, Adam from the Wood, and a new batch of Matt. As he was telling us about the various beers that he'd been working on, he ordered a bottle of Michael for us all to share in the breweries unique taster sized tulips. It had been since last year since my last taste of Michael, and I was very interested in seeing how it had matured in that time. To my surprise, it has picked up a considerable amount of tartness, detectable from the first sniff all the way to the back of the tongue. Gone is the overbearing oak and tannins that dominated the flavor profile of this beer when it was fresh. Also present was a perfect level of carbonation, a feature the fresh bottles came without. I asked Alan how a beer that had already aged for over 2 years could have changed so significantly in the year following bottling, and he mentioned that he blended fresh beer back into the aged batch at bottling, which provided fresh fermentables for the beasties to work on over the following months. While I have to say that I was a bit let down by Michael when I first tried it fresh, the concensus at the bar was that this one really grew up in the bottle, and it's currently a hit. I'm glad I still have a magnum to enjoy in the future, and I look forward to seeing how it continues to mature.

2009 Matt and 2008 Fred from the Wood.

With the opening of this new tasting room, I really feel like Alan kicked the Portland beer scene up a notch. With his unique and truly delicious beers, and extensive collection of vintage offerings, this place is something special. I can't wait to try some of the projects he's been working on, and I look forward to tasting the fruits of the creative freedom the new location will afford him for experimentation in the future.

Now they just need to get the food going, and get their wine list sorted out, so I'll be able to drag my wife over there.


  1. Do you know what their hours are? I've been eager to check them out but having a hard time finding much information on when they were actually open.

  2. Kris,

    Officially, they're open 2-8, wed-sun, although Alan indicated that if it's busy around 8, and he doesn't have any place to be, they could be open longer once in a while.

  3. Cool - thanks for the info on their hours, as well as all the beer fest info you left on our blog. We're sure to see you around one of these places soon.

  4. Matt is a fabulous beer, amazing. I'm glad it's available at the tasting room (though I heard the bottles are a bit spendy).

  5. Hey Bill,

    It was fantastic, but yes, very expensive. My buddy ordered it for us to split and ended up picking up the tab on that one, so no regrets here! Alan says another batch is aging for a 2010 release, so maybe we'll see it again soon at a better price. We'll see. That's one I'd definitely buy plenty of at a bottle release if it was priced closer to the other special stuff when fresh and "plentiful".

    We'll see how they handle the bottle releases though. Alan mentioned that there wouldn't be any more dock sales, and that rather than big one-day releases, they'll probably do gradual releases of the rarer stuff.

    I hope they still allow big purchases of bottles to take home and age when they release it. I could see them holding back a lot of bottles now that they have a place to serve it from...