Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hair of the Dog Ruth

First off, I would like to dedicate this post to all the dogs in my life: Tess (my dog, pictured left), Spanky (my fiancée's dog, pictured right), Truckee (my friend's dog, not pictured), and Hercules (my friend's other dog, not pictured). They are the four-legged loves of my life.

Now, on with the beer.

The third beer I purchased in the Northwest was from a brewery called Hair of the Dog (hence the dog dedications above), a small brewery founded by Alan Sprints in November 1993 out of Portland. Most of their beers have are named for people or at least seem like they do. I personally have had two different Hair of the Dogs before, the flagship Adam (named for an extinct German beer style, Adambier), and Fred (named for beer writer/historian Fred Eckhardt, the inspiration for brewing the Adam and first person to purchase it). Both of those beers have an impressive 10% ABV, and utilize "bottle-conditioning," or when new yeast and beer is added to finished beer to make it age like a fine wine. To help determine how much an Adam or Fred has aged, Hair of the Dog has put "vintage numbers" on their bottles denoting the batch of the brew. They still have their first vintage of each (Adams from 1994, Freds from 1997) that the brewers taste every so often to see what new flavors have developed. Hair of the Dog is still a small outfit, essentially a one-man operation that brews 5,000 cases of all their beers (not 5,000 per beer) each year.

The Ruth, a 4.5% All-American Ale, is named after founder/brewmaster Alan Sprints' grandmother, Ruth, a fitting tribute if I do say so myself. When I spoke with Alan, he said that he expected it to be one of his most popular beers, but it actually is the least popular. However, it has maintained a loyal following of people who do not enjoy the stronger Adam and Fred. The bottle says to "Have one on Granny," so I did just that.

Here are the stats:

Hair of the Dog Ruth
BREWERY: Hair of the Dog Brewing Co., Portland, OR, USA
FIRST BREWED: 2000-2001
CALORIES/SERVING: ~180 per 12 oz. bottle
BITTERNESS: ~30 IBUs (varies year to year)
ABV: 4.5%
ORIGINAL GRAVITY: 12° Plato (1048.58)
HOPS: Crystal
FOODS TO PAIR WITH: Pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, sushi, even apple pie
AWARDS: Never entered in judging contests

The ABV came from the bottle's label, and the rest was answered by a phone call to the brewery on June 29th, 2007 at 12:45 PM PDT. Thank you very much Alan!

This beer, while light on alcohol, definitely packs a great color and scent; the color was a rich cloudy amber color and its scent was wheaty with a hint of citrus, a pleasant surprise. The head was nice with a slight off-white color, and it did not dissipate. It's taste was very smooth and inviting, with only the slightest bite that I actually liked. The finish was equally smooth, with a milky aftertaste that didn't last long enough to go sour. I thought that the alcohol was starting to settle at the bottom towards the end, something I don't like in beers, but it wasn't enough to deter me from truly enjoying it.

Overall, this beer is a keeper, perfect for kicking back this Independence Day.


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