Hair Of The Dog: Doggie Claws (USA: Barley Wine: 11% ABV)

Bottled 2009 Drunk 2010

Visual: Dark cherry red/fruitcake coloured with a fizzy brown red head of short life, however the head could be recalled easily on a quick swirl.

Nose: Sweet cherries, shortbread and dry hops. Sour fruits, grapefruit and elderberry. Sour raspberries.

Body: Malt, raspberry syrup front and legendary smoothness. Custard creams, toffee fruitcake and grapefruit. More fruit mix with gooseberries, raisins and apricot. Slightly milky near the end, milk chocolate red cherry and raspberry.

Finish: Dry but with syrup sweetness- Golden syrup? Hops and grapefruit, slight charring and treacle. Blackcherry, wheat and bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: An intricate barley wine from Hair of the Dog, smooth as silk and layered with flavour. It’s a slow burn beast that takes a lot of time to crack open and find its intricacies.

There’s a huge range of flavour, though not every element works perfectly. For me the usually welcome grapefruit notes seem somewhat out of place and clash with the rest of the body.  There is still a distinct joy in dissecting the beer and finding what lies within however.

The most surprising element is how lacking in force it is for a Barley Wine, going more towards an elegance and smoothness I’m starting to associate with the Hair of The Dog style.  So it’s a bit of a contrary wee beast, playing styles against each other which works some times but not others.

Wonderfully interesting for all I’ve said about it, it just never seems to stop roaming long enough to find a niche for itself. One for rambling explorations of the new territory it lays.