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Saturday, October 9, 2010

In Portland it's always good to go bite the dog that bit ya!

I had rented a bicycle for the day to get around easily in Portland. As much as Portland is a bike friendly town, renting a rickety cheap cruiser, and then wandering around the warehouse industrial area of SE Portland aimlessly was not exactly what I had in mind. Much of the city seems to be constantly under road repair, and while I was trying to kill about 20 minutes before my next imbibing conquest was to happen, I seemed to be just annoying road crews by going up and down the streets with no sense of purpose. One place name Roots Organic I could not find. I approached another cyclist saying HEY! Where is Roots Organic around here? (I knew according to my map it was near). Oh you're close, I thought I heard him say. OH I am close okay... where? No no no he stammered back at me... they are CLOSED.. They went out of business 2 weeks ago. But for my luck Hair of the Dog was still around! Luckily for me, arriving right at the opening of Hair of The Dog brewery and tasting room was well worth the wait. I luckily found this much earlier in the day getting VERY confused trying to locate it on Google Maps, and postings from the website saying that the directions provided online are incorrect. Somehow things weren't jiving, and I am not one to get lost easily, but I figured getting on the other side of the river I would find it. As soon as I crossed over the bridge on my bike, it showed up right in front of my face. It is a brown building on the corner of SE Yamhill St. and SE Water Avenue, just as you come riding over the Morrison Bridge. It's as if the beer gods were giving me good karma. The good thing about arriving as soon as they were opened was that there was nobody there. This actually I found out later was a rare occurrence, most of the time as soon as they would open the place, they would be busy as the staff told me later. The first thing I noticed was the roof was being repaired. The building is an old warehouse from 1907-08 that has needed roof work for sometime. There were a few loud blasts from upstairs but most of the time I sat in a large totally empty tasting room with just the proprietor, the bartender and myself to take in the day. I had no other places to really go for a few hours, there was no rush, this was the perfect beer tasting possibility ever given to me. It was empty, and dead quiet with NOTHING to distract me. It took me some time with help from the bartender to figure out the menu and what to taste and I quickly figured out to sample the 6 made beers. The beers go by straightforward names, given by the brewmaster who I also learned from the bartender serving me, is also a trained chef. I usually grab in order of higher alcohol but just went down the list for tasting as listed on the menu. The first beer I tried "Greg" a beer made without hops and winter squash, has a fairly closed nose on it. The mouthfeel though was a bit wet, but it was full of interesting tastes. There was a little sweetness, a slight nutyness on the aftertaste, somewhat even buttery but a crisp finish. In fact it had a very summery feel much like a crisp white wine. Quite impressive. The second beer "Blue Dot" a Double IPA, was also very good. Oregon just seems to make great IPAs and this is no exception. Nice not overbearing hoppy nose, not too bitter on the finish, some fruit in taste, but the aftertaste gives way to a lingering "berry-type" of fruit I couldn't put my finger on. "Fred" beer, with it's cloudy opaqueness was also another treat. A very fruit nose that smelled specifically of tropical fruit mango. Excellent body and mouthfeel with a very sweet honey taste, even at 10% ABV the beer doesn't feel too heavy.

Finally it was time to taste the next three. "Adam" is the flagship beer of the brewery. It has more of a nose of molasses, with a faint chocolate smell. The taste was leathery with a very faint tobacco finish. The Doggie Claws '09 Barley wine, consists of a reddish copper color, and has a nose of Christmas spices. It really smelled like Christmas, nutmeg, sweetness, cinnamon almost. In contrast I was thinking it would be really sweet but it wasn't really (which is good) finishing off with a taste of honey, and having the hops come through in the aftertaste.

Last was the "Little Dog" was last which had a nearly ashy smoke bouquet, and possibly a faint apricot nose to it. The other notable thing about this beer was that it had still to some extent a crispness like the "Greg" beer. I was very impressed by the beers, they really gave the impression of a brewmaster who was in his craft, and making something unique, without getting too crazy. There are more Portland adventures to write about so stick around!

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