When I reached my one year anniversary I had a few thoughts for what would be a good goal for the up coming year. I really wanted to increase my readership, I hoped to maybe garner some more attention from people in the beer industry, and I wanted to try to make some beer trades to increase the range of beer I had to review from. Thanks to MeganvsBeer, I’ve finally managed to successfully complete my first cross-country beer exchange. Having never done this before, I wasn’t really sure how much to get together to send out; therefore, I tried to gather up a really good sampling of some standard and rare offerings from the Washington DC area. All together I boxed up 6 big bottles and three 12 oz bottles for her to sample. I then eagerly awaited my supply from her. I received the package and immediately tore into it. One of the hardest beer decisions I’ve had to make in a while was figuring out what to review first. Ultimately I went with the brewery I’ve been most interested in trying for a little while now.
I’ve never seen anything from Hair of the Dog offered here on the east coast. I haven’t necessarily hit up the entire east coast, but I do check a lot of places from NYC to Virginia for stuff that I’ve never had before. That’s a fair sampling. Anyway, seeing this little 12 oz bottle right on top of the box, I was very interested in getting to taste a brew from an establishment I’ve been hearing about for a while now. Hair of the Dog specializes in bottle conditioned beers that can be improved with age. If I were able to find more of their beers, I might be capable of waiting to drink their stuff, but I wasn’t allowing any time for this one to age.
This particular bottle is an old ale. I’ve reviewed a few different old ales on here before. I don’t think I’ve found one I’ve fallen in love with yet, but I’m alright with finding a new love. The side of this bottle describes this brew as having the flavors of chocolate, figs, leather, and smoke. I have a feeling there are a few people who would be put off by the thought of drinking something that tasted like smoke and leather, but I assure you, it’s actually pretty good.
This brew pours out a rich dark black espresso color. There is ton of ample tannish brown head that develops on top. Swirling the glass displays a ton of lacing and a nice amount of sticky residue leftover on the glass as well. Clearly the beer is a little too dark to get a real feel for the clarity; however, you do see a little bit of the carbonation activity on the top of the beer when you swirl it.
The aroma has a ton of really sweet and malty smells. The malts have a lot of big fig and dark red fruit scents to them. There is also a lot of smokey smell here, and you get some very big chocolate as well. I don’t really get a ton of hops here at all; however, I do get a lot of booze.
While the aromas are quite significant, you really get a lot of big bold flavors on the taste. The really sweet malts kick off the flavor profile with a ton of huge fig and raisin flavors. There is actually a yeast flavor that mixes in here. I feel like it has that strong Belgian yeast flavor to it, but I know it isn’t a Belgian ale at all. From there, the big bold fig flavor picks back up and there is a huge amount of sweet brown sugar and molasses that kicks in as well. There really is a lot of smoke on the finish; however, you also get a huge hit of booze on the finish as well. The booze lingers for a quite a while on the lingering sweet fig aftertaste.
The mouthfeel starts with a quick little syrupy sweet introduction. There is a nice building of the carbonation throughout the better portion of the beer; however, the carbonation begins to disappear at the end as the big booze punch comes in. There are a lot of big flavors in here that make this a delicious brew.
I wish I could find a few more bottles of Hair of the Dog around here. I would really like to see what this one would do with a little bit of age. Plus they make it with a barrel aged variance as well. I’m pretty certain it’s delicious. If you happen to find something from Hair of the Dog around you, then you certainly need to pick it up. You’ll really be rewarding yourself. Now I’ve got a few more bottles of beer from Oregon to work through.
Teacher Grade: A+