Brewery of the Week: Hair of the Dog

I had the privilege of getting a tour of the Hair of the Dog Brewery recently, which is why I would like to highlight HOTD as my first Brewery of the Week.


The Brewery
Hair of the Dog is one of my favorite breweries in Portland because they specialize in high alcohol, bottle conditioned beers, and experiment with their flavor profiles. The brewery was founded in 1993 by Alan Sprints, a former president of the Oregon Brew Crew. In many ways, Hair of the Dog was in the beer scene before the beer scene was even called “the beer scene”. They are not afraid of trying new things which keeps them in my rotation, as I love going back and trying new beers on tap.

Hair of the Dog is the only brewery in Portland that ferments their beer in a concrete egg. Yes, that’s right they have a huge red egg made out of concrete. This process is very unique and imparts very interesting flavors into their beers. If you have never had a beer fermented in a concrete egg, it’s definitely worth a try!

Concrete egg fermenter at Hair of the Dog Brewery

They brew their beer in consecutive batches. 4 barrels per batch, per brew. They brew 4 to 5 batches every 36 hours and serve 85% of their beer on premise. They make a total of 1000 barrels per year, which puts them on the small side in terms of production comparative to other breweries in the area.

The Beer

Maja – blonde barleywine made with Madagascar vanilla and Vermont maple syrup

My favorite beer at HOTD was an unreleased beer called the Maja (pronounced Maya). This beer was barrel aged in fresh American oak, then bourbon barrels, and lastly stainless steel barrels. It is categorized as a blonde barley wine, and was brewed with Vermont maple syrup and Madagascar vanilla. ABV is 10.5%. This beer was brewed in collaboration with Swedish brewmasters from the brewery Omnipolo. The beer is definitely the best barleywine that I have had! It was completely balanced, with the sweetness hitting the palate initially and then the hops coming in at the end and holding the beer up. Unlike what many may think could be a sweet beer, this beer uses the syrup and vanilla flavors in a way that is subtle and unique. I was definitely surprised by the perfect balance that this beer upholds. Lookout for Maja when it hits the menu in the coming weeks!

I also had a bottle of Putin which is a 14% ABV Russian Imperial Stout. This was a BIG beer but it doesn’t actually taste like a big beer at all. Just like it’s namesake this beer is much more dangerous than it looks.

Putin, a 14% ABV Russian Imperial Stout


Lastly, Hair of the Dog serves up some great food. My personal favorite would be the pork toast which is so tasty and easily consumable. For the vegetarian, I would recommend the brussel sprouts which are roasted and lightly seasoned.

If you are in the area, I definitely recommend giving Hair of the Dog a visit!


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