Hair Of The Dog Matt

Hair of The Dog: Matt (USA: American Strong Ale: 12.5%ABV)

(2010 Edition: Drunk 2013)

Visual: Black, a shimmer around the edges that is all that passes for a head.

Nose: Raisins and brandy cream. Plums. Fortified red wine. Stewed apples and apple crumble. Gooseberries.

Body: Silky. Brandy cream. Raisins and port. Tangerine notes. Bourbon. Apples. Slight alcohol spirit feel. Pink grapefruit.

Finish: More brandy cream. Chocolate liquore. Bourbon and accompanying vanilla notes. Light charring. Lightly tart. Pink grapefruit. Treacle. Gin air. Fruitcake.

Conclusion: Recently Brodie’s Elizabethan set the bar high for exactly what a strong ale could be. Then, after Herculean efforts, I manage to get to try this. The legendary Hair Of The Dog Matt. How does it do in the fight?

Well, as you would expect from HOTD it is incredibly complex. Dark fruits and raisins against tart grapefruit and tangerine flavours. It shifts back and forth between the two contrasting elements with ease, all lying upon a chocolate liquore and vanilla bourbon base that is the omnipresent background. The flavours are absolutely delightful.

The texture is silky smooth but the flavours have no problem gripping and seeping in. It is like a high quality liquore. There is a spirit like presence, even with several years ageing under its belt you can feel a small spirit burn. It is the beer’s only flaw. The weight of the beer already happily advertised the abv without needing the alcohol burn, though admittedly very light, shown only in a tingle to the end.

Of the Hair Of The Dog beers I would probably put Adams ahead of it as I feel it balanced weight to smoothness better. This I think may have a slightly better rep due to its rarity rather than it actually being a better beer. Then again, I’m comparing it to one of my three favourite beers ever. That is the only situation where this beer can really be said to fail at anything.

So it may partly have a reputation due to rarity, but mainly because it is amazingly bloody great.

On complexity of flavour this is a winner, it is only that slightly too tingling alcohol that keeps it from perfection. Because it is such a great beer, in such a great style with so many great contenders, I am reaching to find criticisms, minor though they are.

A near perfect mix of sharpness and dark fruit, silky texture. If anything feels a heavier beer than it is for abv. Despite that minor imperfection the utterly sublime range and balance of flavour wins it a place in my heart. Wine notes, stewed apples and brandy cream all come in exchange for that slight burn.

After much back and forth I am unsure of if I should put it in my favourites, as the competition for styles like this is so high. Then again, with fruitcake, apple crumble, citrus tart , bourbon, plum pudding and liquore, frankly that should not matter. Anything that can pull that off is worth drinking.

Sod it, despite the insane level of competition I will call it a favourite. Its been a hell of a nine hundred reviews. Hope you enjoyed them and the beers to come.

Background: 900 drink reviews! Conveniently this little beauty was available in the excellent Craftheads bar in Tokyo to celebrate the event. If anyone has been tracking my notes and my trip write up you may notice this one is slightly out of order, almost as if it was not exactly the 900th review and I just budged it down the line a bit to match the occasion. Cynics.

I nearly didn’t get hold of the beer. I had seen on craftheads website that they had it, and since it is only made every two years, it is from the very hard to get Hair Of The Dog Brewery which I adore, and is one of rate beers top 50 beers , I thought I must try to get it. Unfortunately one day they were closed, the second day I could only quickly drop by and they no longer do take outs on Hair Of The Dog beers. The third day though, sprinting and riding train journeys from after watching a Sumo match in another district of Tokyo, hoping to get to it before it shut, I found it open and ready to sell me beer. Success.

Yes I am a fan of Hair Of The Dog beers and will go to insane lengths to try them, why do you ask?

This beer is apparently made with two Munich malts, two smoked malts, two types of Belgium candy sugar, and aged in Bourbon and Apple Eau de Vie barrels. Or so I just read on ratebeer. I knew not this at the time.