Monday, June 3, 2013

Hair of The Dog: Saucy, Surprising, and Delicious

Memorial Day Weekend in the Pacific Northwest often means a weekend of wine, friends, and fun.  This year, Rick, Alyssa, and I took a slightly different approach to the long weekend.

I headed down to Portland with the express purpose of trying out restaurants and breweries that we had not been to before; we were wholly successful in that endeavor.

Rick is not a fan of Belgian style beers, so for years we have avoided Hair of the Dog Brewing Company with an uninformed assumption that their entire portfolio would not be to his liking.  Alyssa loves Belgians though and Hair of the Dog is conveniently located in Southeast Portland near some of our other destinations, so it won on the journey to find a new brewery on that particular day.

Before I share some highlights of our awesome visit, here's what Hair of the Dog has to say about themselves:
Hair of the Dog Brewing Company was founded in November of 1993 with the purpose of providing beer lovers with new and unusual beer styles. Creativity and originality have been cornerstones of the company's philosophy since it was founded.

Each Beer has its own name and unique identity; like the people who have inspired them. The brewery is family owned and operated, a proud member of the Oregon Brewers Guild as well as the Pacific Northwest's rich brewing heritage. We produce over 600 barrels of Beer a year in our 4 barrel (120 gallon) Brewhouse and bottle approximately 5000 cases a year. The rest of our beer is served on draft in our tasting room and at a few select accounts in Oregon and elsewhere.
The day we visited was sunny, which is both a nice surprise for May in Portland and afforded an opportunity to sit outside in the sidewalk seating area.   There's a large party store across the street, so as an added bonus you get to watch the constant stream of people going in and out of the store with bundles of large balloons, clown costumes, and Star Wars/Trek paraphenilia.  People watching at it's finest.

We were hungry after a rough day of getting up, eating donuts, and drinking coffee...and the brewery's food menu hit the spot.  I had a tasty BLT with some phenomenal bacon; they make their own kettle-chips in house which nicely complement a cold brew.

The beer.

Yes, the beer.

I was immediately pleased to see that all of the beers on-tap were offered in both 3 oz and 12 oz pours; it's boozy stuff and it was only Noon.  As Rick read the descriptions, he mumbled a "holy shit, I think I'll like some of these."

Yep, they aren't all Belgians.  In fact, Hair of the Dog's mission is to produce high alcohol, bottle conditioned beers with a specialty in barrel aging.  We can get behind that.

In the brewpub, they offer a rotational selection of barrel-aged beer, "? from the wood."  I started with that, the "Fred from the Wood".  A golden strong ale produced with Pilsner, Rye, and Belgian candi sugar aged in new American oak barrels, I loved every sip of my 10% ABV 3-ounce pour.

Next, Alyssa and I split a vintage bottle selection:  Cherry Adam from the Wood.  Starting with their Adam (a dark German-style dessert beer), they they age some with locally-grown black cherries in Bourbon and Sherry casks.  This was the winner of the day for me.  Dark, deep, bourbony, with a light hint of cherry.  It was simply fantastic.

Rick had a Scottish Ale, which he described as "Scottishy" and "Alelike".  It was delicious.

Hair of the Dog has the uncanny ability to take a great thing, make it better, and then top it off with awesome.  That's what the Cherry Adam from the Wood is.  Actually, every beer we tasted.

A homerun in our "try new places" weekend, Hair of the Dog is now on my list of awesome places to visit in Portland.  I'm also going to look around for another bottle of the Cherry.


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