Hair of the Dog Brewing blends History and Time

Alan Sprints - Hair of the Dog Brewing

Alan Sprints – Hair of the Dog Brewing © The New School

Amidst an ever-shifting lineup of new Goses,, a kaleidoscope of fruit beers, tropical IPA’s and milkshake dessert beers, Alan Sprints Hair of the Dog brewery and beers remain still. Sipping on a dark, smoke-tinged, warming glass of his Adambier, brings memories flooding back from it’s dark depths. Hair of the Dog has always been integrally entwined with history but also, especially recently, collaboration.

Some of those memories are dreams, of early brewing history, when soot-faced, blue collar brewers industrious efforts resulted in early brewing culture before the advent of lagers in Dortmund, Germany. This peculiar, extinct style of ale was cultivated from 33-year-old yeast, was brown, acrid and sour like early porters.

Alan Sprints dusted off the recipes, like condensation from a warm beer poured into a cold glass, and reimagined it as a fresh beer of today. Hoppy, strong, with a touch of peaty smoke, Hair of the Dog Brewing’s Adambier put the brewery on the map back in 1994. Alan still has Adambier batch 1 through 10 on sale. As Alan says “I have a great selection of vintage bottles that all make me think about the past, my kids at different ages or how hard work was in the early days.”

Even the barrels he uses for his famous sweet, rich and boozy ales that beer geeks line up for are old. Alan says “The oldest barrels I have now are about four years old, I have aged Beers in wood for up to eight years”

Hair of the Dog’s Adambier is not called “Adam” for the extinct style though, it’s dedicated to the memory of Adam Kerchival, a member of the brewing family who was a big help to Alan in his early days brewing at Alameda.

Hair of the Dog’s stone “egg” in red

Though much of what Hair of the Dog has become famous for is modern recreations of historical and European-styles, it’s not all that Alan is interested in. He is surprisingly a fan of some of the less bitter hazy IPA’s being brewed these days and specifically mentions Great Notion Brewing. A few years back he added a concrete “egg” aging tank of which he releases versions of his beers with the subheading of “From the Stone.” (Learn about concrete aging tanks here.)

It’s hard to argue though that age and history are perhaps the most identifiable characteristics of Hair of the Dog Brewing’s beers. As Alan says “Aged Beers, invoke not only your own memories, but make you think about the people who made them and how the world has changed.” Alan’s beers are all real people’s names and are important styles and personalities.

Lila – is a 6% Maibock from, it’s named after Alan’s late mother, brewed on her birthday in February and lagered until Mother’s Day in May.

Ruth – is a 5% American Pale named after Lila’s mother, Alan’s grandmother. He remembers her as “not a big beer drinker but really nice to remember granny.”

Fred – a 10% Abv strong golden ale is famously named after Portland’s famous beer advocate and writer Fred Eckhardt who passed away in 2015. Alan also co-founded Fred Fest which is still held every May at the brewery. Talking about each beer brings the memories flooding back as Alan notes “Fred Eckhardt was a big influence on me and my Beers and he continues to inspire me to be a better person all the time.”

Blue Dot – is the 7% Abv double IPA that is named after the earth and an old Carl Sagen quote, Alan recites it” “we are but a pale blue dot in this universe” Let’s make everyday earth-day and think about our planet.”

Rose – is a Belgian-style Tripel made with hibiscus and pink peppercorns and named after Portland, the City of Roses. Alan says “I am very proud to be part of what makes Portland a truly great place.”

Michael – is a 6.2% abv Flanders Red-style ale named after the great beer journalist Michael Jackson. Alan calls it a “tribute to the bard of beer” and says “he (Michael Jackson) and Fred guided my early understanding of Beer history and styles.”

Matt – is an 11.5% abv strong ale brewed with smoked malts and aged in bourbon barrels. “Matt” is a commemorative beer for the 10th anniversary of famous Seattle beer store Bottleworks. Owned by Matt V., Bottleworks was also run by another Matt, Matt Bonney for many years. According to Alan “Matt Vandenberghe and Matt Bonney personify the spirit and dedication that has helped Beer become the vibrant industry it is today.”

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Collage – Alan describes this amazing blend as “an idea that has become tangible.” This collaboration with Deschutes Brewery is a complex barrel-aged treat. The two breweries first collab was called “Conflux No. 1” and released in 2013. Collage is a new blending of different barrel-aged beers released in late 2016 and the focus of a brewers dinner this Friday in Portland. Alan describes the process of blending both Deschutes and Hair of the Dog beers a “mixing both Beers and Brewery culture in a malted work of art.” The blend is Deschutes’s The Abyss and The Stoic with Hair of the Dog’s Fred, and Doggie Claws that come together in one very special 14.3% abv beer.

This Friday, April 7th, 2017 is a Deschutes and Hair of the Dog brewers pairing dinner at The Evergreen Ballroom in Portland, Oregon. Tickets for this pairing called “The Collage” are still available here.

Deschutes Culinary Team, led by Corporate Executive Chef Jeff Usinowicz, has collaborated with Hair Of The Dog Executive Chef Chuck Hambley, Higgins Restaurant And Bar Executive Chef and Owner Greg Higgins, and Chef and Master Chocolatier Julian Rose of Moonstruck Chocolates to create a stunning menu of items paired with each beer in Collage 2, as well as a Collage 2 pairing. The event also includes a Pacific Wonderland Lager and special charcuterie pairing, and the opportunity to chat with a few of the most innovative chefs and brewers around.

Beer and Food Paired Menu Stations:

Fred
Chef Chuck Hambley of Hair of the Dog
Braised Pork Belly, Pickled Sweet Pepper, Balsamic Gastrique, Fried Shallots

The Stoic
Chef Greg Higgins of Higgins
Citrus and Chili Cured Spring Run Chinook with a Salpicon of Early Veggies and Horseradish

Doggie Claws
Chef Jill Ramseier of Deschutes Brewery Portland Pub
Spent Grain Beef Tartare with Barley Wine Lavash, Burnt Orange & Herb Panna Cotta

The Abyss
Chef Jeff Usinowicz of Deschutes Brewery
Braised Oxtail Empanadas with Orange Pepitas Mole

Collage 2
Master Chocolatier Julian Rose of Moonstruck Chocolates
Julian’s Chocolate Creations

Salumi Table: Deschutes Brewery/ SP Provisions Beer Salamis, Greg Higgins/ SP Provisions Salamis, Black Butte Porter/ Face Rock Creamery White Cheddar, Pickled Veggies, Brewery Breads & Crackers and other fun accouterments!

Reception Beers: Pacific Wonderland and Table Beer

There are vegetarian creations at each station

Alan Sprints sampling aged beer with us in the back of his Hair of the Dog Brewing

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

Discussion

  • Dr Will
    Dr Will
    Thu Apr 6, 2017 10:54 AM

    I see what you did there. Well played.