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The Beer Circle » American Barleywine, Beer, Hair of the Dog, Reviews » Hair of the Dog Fred

Hair of the Dog Fred

Hair of the Dog is a Portland, OR based brewery that began brewing in 1995. Most of its beers are named after people or places that inspired the brewers, ranging from family members to the nickname of Portland itself. Many of Hair of the Dog’s beers are bottle-conditioned, so they will stand up to aging with the best of them. Hair of the Dog even maintains vintage guides for its beers so you can go and check when your particular batch was brewed.

Hair of the Dog also experiments with barrel-aging with their “…from the Wood” series. Released sporadically, these beers are aged in oak barrels for over a year to give even more depth to the flavors. There are also cherry versions, which are aged not only in oak barrels, but also sherry casks while sitting on locally grown cherries.

This is my second encounter with Fred; the first one was tainted by a bad bottle. I was sent this one by a buddy with the assurances that it was a good one. Here’s hoping!


Hair of the Dog Fred
Much like the Batch 78 version of Fred, this rendition still bursts with intense carbonation from the second it hits the glass. I probably only got the glass about half full before the rest was quickly taken over by foam, and as it sits it grows ever bigger, eventually crawling above the rim of the glass and suspending perilously in the open air. The head formation and composition reminds me strongly of Allagash, as the consistency is as thick and frothy as all Allagash beers I've had and the retention that could last all day. The body is amazingly clear for being bottle conditioned, with essentially no particles clouding the liquid and only the constant rush of bubbles causing a disturbance. The color is a classic amber hue complemented by a khaki head, while the head leaves wispy strokes of foam as it recedes.
The aroma is a nice combination of malt and fruit. There's a strong breadiness that gives this a solid backbone of caramel and toffee, before slightly tart apples, peaches, and pears come to zest it up a bit. The hops add a nice hint of citrus as well. A slight amount of spice is present in the back-end, but it is faint at best.
While the hops were so prominent in the nose, the flavor is an exercise in malts. Spicy rye is easily one of the more potent ingredients here, as it is as strong at the start as it is in the finish. The hops are a little bit of a disappointment... they were so fresh and so clean (clean) in the nose, but are muddled and bitter here. In fact, the contrast between sweet and bitter is stark and random; it seems each sip brings a new proportion of each so I'm not sure what to expect with every new sip. A touch boozy, but overall pretty enjoyable to drink.
Mouthfeel is moderately heavy-bodied with decent carbonation. This is where Fred throws me for a loop. The head is literally a foamy barrier between me and the beer and built instantly upon pouring, which led me to believe this would be very active on the palate with a ton of carbonation, but it's almost the complete opposite. It's not flat but it isn't far from it. It's not a bad thing since a beer of this magnitude doesn't need a whole lot, but it definitely was surprising given my last unfortunate run-in with this beer - which was almost undrinkable due to overwhelming carbonation.
Drinkability is moderately high. Hair of the Dog partially redeemed itself with this batch of Fred and I can finally see where the praise for this brewery comes from. It's complex and bursting with flavor. It has a strange sort of balance to it; it isn't a peaceful coalescence of flavors, but rather a constant struggle between malt and hop that stretches from one end of the spectrum to the other, but in the finish it comes together nicely. A great beer all-around, now if only the brewery were more consistent.
Hair of the Dog as a rule is pretty expensive around me... this particular bottle was $7. While that is pricy for a 12ozer, this is high in alcohol and flavor. Couple that with the brewery being almost impossible to find in Pittsburgh and the laws of supply and demand kick in quickly. To be fair, this goes for around $4-5 on the West Coast.
Overall, this iteration of Fred was leaps and bounds above my previous experience with it. My first two bottles from them, Fred and Adam, were both bad bottles; Adam was completely flat and Fred was exploding from excessive carbonation. I'm glad that this bottle was okay, but as a whole I wish the brewery were a little more consistent. If you feel like gambling, take a chance on this beer and hope for the best!

Beer Stats
Style: American Barleywine
Serving: Bottle
Size: 12oz
ABV: 10.00%
BA Score: 92
RB Score: 100

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Written by Greg Bruce

While studying at Penn State, Greg learned that beer could serve a much better purpose than a means to an end for a good party. Delicately brewed Belgians acted as a stark contrast to the almost watery beer that had been so popular and began the journey towards craft beer. From that launch point he always seems to land on something new. Greg approaches each beer, whether it is an aggressively-hopped West Coast IPA or an English bitter (and everything between), with a clear mind and open opinion, ready to analyze, compare, and ultimately, enjoy. While always fond of stouts (especially barrel-aged) and IPAs, Greg is slowly but surely drifting towards various soured beers. Find Greg Bruce on Google Plus

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