Hair of the Dog Brewery – “Ale Strong Enough to Make You Attack the Mailman” *

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*  Quote from an article in Maxim Online by Tim Clark

Followers of this blog will already know that Portland’s Eastside Industrial District is a thriving area as evidenced by the post on the resurrected Produce Row Café on 12/7/15.  There are also a lot of good restaurants such as Clark Lewis, Olympic Provisions and bars such as Bunk Bar, Side Door and My Father’s Place.

P1040063Essentially the same folks who enjoyed Produce Row, recently tried the Hair of the Dog Brewery and Tasting Room on a Thursday night and then we walked through the inaugural Portland Winter Light Festival after drinks and dinner.

The Inaugural Winter Festival of Lights

 

This brewery, founded in 1993 and one of Portland’s earlier micro-brew enterprises has differentiated itself from others as described on its website:

“Hair of the Dog Brewing Co is dedicated to providing the beer lover with new and unusual beer styles. Several of our beers are bottle-conditioned or re-fermented in the bottle resulting in beers which improve with age. Beers that are bottle-conditioned have a built-in shelf life.

They can be stored at room temperature (50–74 degrees F) and will continue to mature in the bottle for several years like a fine wine. We make only a small amount of beer and each bottle has a unique bottling number. This number changes every 5000 bottles, or 200 cases.”       

Aging behind the scenes

Aging behind the scenes

Now there is some debate about whether the aging process or re-fermentation does, in fact, improve the beer, but the comments on their beer are generally good and there is no debate that it is strong.  For example, one article stated the average micro-brew ABV (alcohol-by-volume) is slightly less than 6%.  HoD beer is generally much stronger as you will see below. 

Perhaps the high ABV is the rationale for the name of the brewery, since the Urban Dictionary defines “hair-of-the-dog” as an “alcoholic beverage consumed to ease a hangover.”

One of HoD’s beers, “Dave,” which is no longer produced, had an ABV of 29% and was rated by “Beer Tutor” as the twelfth strongest beer in the world in an undated post.  According to Wikipedia,  “The high alcohol level was achieved by repeated freezing and removal of the frozen water, a process called freeze distillation.”   

They had nine of their twenty beers on tap that night and the beers we tried were as follows:

Bourbon Fred from the Wood – 10% ABV

Blue Dot – 7% ABV         Ruth – 5% ABV

Fred – 10% ABV

That compares with one of Thebeerchaser’s standard favorites – PBR with an ABV of 4.74%.

Oregon beer legend, Fred Eckhart, namesake of a few Hod's beers

Oregon beer legend, Fred Eckhart, namesake of a few Hod’s beers

Some Comments on Beer Ratings!

Although this blog is primarily about bars and not the intricacies of the beer itself, let’s talk a little about Beer Ratings from the view of a non-connoisseur.   According to Wikipedia (okay, its not the Oxford Encyclopedia but remember this is a blog post not a Harvard Business Review article)  BeerAdvocate (has a “database contain(ing) about 3,783,570 ratings of about 100,976 beers,”  on 11/13/15.

RateBeer, founded in 2000, which at an unspecified time in the last ten years, “….had 4.5 million ratings of almost 200,000 beers, from nearly 16,000 breweries.”

Perhaps a more valid opinion than Beer Advocate or RateBeer!

Perhaps a more valid opinion than Beer Advocate or RateBeer!

BeerAdvocate is a great resource on beer terminology, home brewing, the history of beer and does explain rating criteria –  appearance (6%), taste (40%), smell (24%) and mouthfeel (10%).

But I tend to agree with their staff member who wrote, “Many see reviewing as an unnecessary process best left to geeks…..”  So rather than get caught up with what the experts think – see some of that below – let’s look a bit at what the common person thinks about HoD beer.  These are a few comments on Yelp from different time periods and seem to be consistent:

“The beer was complex and delicious.     3/26/13

“Well balanced beer.”        3//13

“Beers were expensive, but excellent. You won’t get these beers anywhere else and it’s well worth the $ spent.”         2/22/14

“Not your typical beer.”          

“Beer was very much for the adventurous, ABVs all pretty punchy. Delicious beer though.”             9/8/15

P1040062 And a comparison by our “Walking/Drinking Group” (WGD!), who in the last eight months has visited Ecliptic Brewing, Produce Row in addition to HoD (see the links for Thebeerchaser’s review).  Produce Row does not brew its own beer but has twenty-three beers on tap.

Keeping in mind that there were two tax lawyers in our groups of six at HoD and eight people at the other two venues, you can understand why there was no consensus except with the tax lawyers in their animated discussion on the benefits derived under sum-of-the-digit depreciation (SOD) pursuant to Section 167 of the Internal Revenue Code.

IRS Logo

IRS Logo

As evidence:

“‘SOD,’ as accelerated depreciation, better matches costs to revenues because it takes more depreciation in the early years of an assets’ useful life,” 

and
“‘SOD’ reflects more accurately the difference in usage of different assets from one period to the other.”

A majority in our group liked the beer at Ecliptic best and thought the beers on tap at HoD okay but pretty hoppy.  “I had the Bourbon Fred from the Wood, and would recommend it.  Heavy, full of flavor.  (My wife) had the Blue Dot, and it was ok.  We shared a Fred, and it was tasty.   And my wife and I each had the Ruth, which was fine, but not exceptional.  Another had the Fred and stated, “I was not impressed by any of the beers available.”        

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One annoyance at HoD, and not one found at most of Thebeerchaser’s prior stops, was the inability to taste any of the beers before having to make a purchase.

The brewery would respond that they had three-ounce samplers available, but they cost between $1.25 to $3.25 and a patron should not have to shell out that sum or any amount just for a small “sip” of beer.  I hope this is not a trend.  Come on guys…that’s the cost of doing business and especially when you pride yourself on “new and creative beer styles.”

More on Beer Ratings……

RateBeer brags that it has “the world record holder for complete beer reviews, RateBeer’s Jan Bolvig of VestJylland, Denmark has over 36,000 beer reviews to his credit.”  Now not to be cynical, but I’m not sure that I would put a lot of credence in a guy’s palate (or liver…) once he had sampled that many beers.

And, for example, a guy named Joe who has a blog called “Epic Curiousity,” mapped out the locations of BeerAdvocate’s World’s Best 250 Beers” as of June 2014.  At least ten or 11% pf the 89 from the Western US and Alaska were from Oregon.  (214 of the 250 were from the US.)  Oregon’s highest was “The Abyss” from Deschutes Brewery at #33 with a rating of 4.5.   Following it was Hair of the Dog’s “Adam of the Wood” at #55 with a rating of  4.45.

Others in the top 250 were Cascade Brewing’s “Sang Noir” at #65 (4.41), Pelican Brewing’s “Mother of All Storms” at #69 (4.41), HoD’s “Matt” at #87 (4.39), Hood River’s Logsdon Farmhouse Ale’s “Peche ‘n Brett” at #116 (4.35) and Bend’s Boneyard Brewing “Hop Venom Double IPA” at #117 (4.35), Boneyard’s “Notorious Triple IPA” at 142 (4.32), Cascade Barrel House’s Cascade Apricot Aleat #171 (4.3), Cascade’s “Cascade Sang Royal” at #182 (4.3) and  Cascade’s “Cascade Noyaux” #210 (4.28).

GravityTap

So many good choices…..

 A quick review of BeerAdvocate’s most current ratings shows eight Oregon beers in the top 250 with Deschute’s “Abyss” again the highest (#45) and no new Oregon beers or breweries appeared to make it.

And Trillium Brewery of Boston has an astounding fourteen of their beers in the list, which begs the question about the impact of marketing and politics on the ratings, especially because “Trillium opened in March 2013 with the support of family, volunteers, two babies, and three employees.”

Now how they distinguished between a rating of 4.39 and 4.35, I don’t know, but perhaps it’s because BeerAdvocatate promotes its sophisticated formula: “We use the same true Bayesian estimate formula used by the Internet Movie Database for calculating average ratings.”  To further the rationale, perhaps they use Robert Redford, Emily Blount and Robert De Niro as raters although I think Redford flunked statistics in college.

p(\tilde{x}|\mathbf{X},\alpha) = \int_{\theta} p(\tilde{x}|\theta) \, p(\theta|\mathbf{X},\alpha) \operatorname{d}\!\theta

Posterior Distribution

So in concluding this rant, rather than use elements of Bayesian statistics such as posterior predictive and the principle of maximum entropy, etc., I would recommend just going to one of Portland’s 750+ watering holes or Oregon’s “234 brewing facilities operated by 194 breweries” (Oregon Craft Beer website) and tasting the beers yourself.  Or consider using the close-to-home 2016 Oregon Beer Awards sponsored by Willamette Week as a reference. (They primarily use local experts such as Beerchaser of the Quarter, Lisa Morrison, and Rob Widmer as their blind tasters.)

However, Beer Advocate concludes its top 250 beer list with the admonition, “But enough nerd talk. Let’s drink a beer!”  Thebeerchaser thinks that’s good advice unless you are reading this post at 3:00 AM.

Now Back to Hair of the Dog!

2016-02-04 18.00.23Hair of the Dog has a pleasant atmosphere – very clean and light and nice décor.  I would suggest that it had a charm that was totally absent at Ecliptic and an ambiance comparable to Produce Row.

The servers and staff were also courteous and responsive.   (For example, our waitress opined, “Switching from ‘SOD’ depreciation to the straight-line method during the life of the asset has some advantages that should be considered.” 

How about the food?   Two of us had the grilled cheese sandwich and rated it outstanding although there was some disappointment that only chips rather than fries were available as a supplement.  One comment about the Reuben and the special sandwich was “the food was ok, but not particularly memorable,” and another stated, “the brisket was okay but not great.”  

The food was okay, but not memorable.

The food was okay, but not memorable.

And another annoyance, but worth commenting on, albeit not confined to HoD and asked rhetorically, “Why can’t I get horse radish dressing for my Rueben?  This is a reoccurring issue I have in Portland when I order a Rueben?”  

I suggested that he try the Goose Hollow Inn that proudly (and I might add with possible justification,  advertises “The Best Reuben on the Planet!”  

Try the Goose Hollow for Horseradish!

Try the Goose Hollow for Horseradish!

To summarize on the menu, I think all of us thought the food was okay and reasonably priced, but of the three aforementioned venues, the food at Produce Row was superior.

We finished with a very nice stroll down the Eastside Esplanade observing the Winter Light Festival, which had some technical glitches and being the inaugural event, can show improvement in the future.  But it was “enlightening” and a credit to the City and its sponsors – something to anticipate next year.  P1040076

The Portland Spirit

The Portland Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016-02-04 18.52.00

Hair of the Dog Brewery and Tasting Room

61 SE Yamhill Street    Portland

Don’t “Sniff” at Quimby’s

Quimby's - formerly known as Cheers
Quimby’s – formerly known as Cheers

If you glance at the new Beerchaser map (see link below), you will see that most of establishments visited on Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs, commencing in August 2013, are located on the southeast side of Portland – in what includes the infamous and beloved Barmuda Triangle.

Sniff -- Anyone for a Hair of the Dog IPA??
Sniff — Anyone for a Hair of the Dog IPA??

It is thus fitting, to hit a Northwest venue – the last one was Slabtown last October – especially when two are located in the same block.  And Sniff Cafe may be accurately labeled a “unique” watering hole in Portland in that it appears to be the only one that is integrated with a canine day-care and hotel.

My initial reaction was to harken back to Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Eastern Oregon last summer when I witnessed the antithesis of Sniff at the entrance to two different taverns – one in Burns and one in Prineville.  Take a look at these two signs greeting patrons at the doors of these bars.

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Non-ambiguity re. furry friends.....

Non-ambiguity re. furry friends…..

To the contrary at Sniff, if you stop in for a glass of beer or wine during the Happy Hour times of 5:00 to 7:00 P.M., you get a $1 discount on beer and wine — plus, your pooch gets a free romp in the pet indoor play area – even getting occasional personal attention by one of their attendants.  You also get to view not only your pooch, but the other dogs cavorting in this puppy play pen.

One wonders if they may be playing, "Duck,  Duck -- Goose!"

One wonders if they may be playing, “Duck, Duck — Goose!”

____ serving a beer.

Taylor serving a beer.

Sniff is a neat little bar – it does not have hard liquor, but beer, wine, coffee and snacks ranging from pastries to pizza to wraps.  According to our bartender Taylor, who has been at Sniff for two years, it has been successful since it opened in 2010  – even to the extent of recently expanding as can be seen from the picture below.

Expanded bar areas at Sniff

Expanded bar areas at Sniff

Instead of hard-boiled eggs, pickles or other unhealthy stuff placed on the bar for snacks, Sniff had dog biscuits!!

Healthier than Pickled Pigs Feet....
Healthier than Pickled Pigs Feet….

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I did not have the guts to ask Taylor if he had heard the joke about the dog who walked into the bar and asked the bartender, Have you seen the guy who shot my paw??? ” 

Sniff also has some rules for their pet guests that might be a good idea for some bars to institute as well – especially dive bars with a rough clientele.  For example, check out these guidelines below.  Substitute “you” for the canine equivalent in the following and you’ll see what I mean:

We want all our guests to play nice. That’s why we pick and choose which guests will socialize the best…..Call ahead and schedule your free temperament evaluation.

 

Leaving an  impression...

Leaving an impression…

WHAT IF MY DOG DOESN’T PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS?  If your dog is not social, or requires one-on-one attention, for the safety of our guests, he or she is required to stay in a private suite and participate in private play sessions and/or walks; additional fees will apply.”

Artwork to keep the guests comfortable...
Artwork to keep the guests comfortable…

To further the above premise, they also have special rules for females in heat, because they “can stress our male guests…” 

Sniff has only four beers on tap (inexplicably no Hair of the Dog Brewery products) but seven additional bottled beers.  Also three white and three red wines to try.

To momentarily digress, Sniff also reminded me of my favorite Beerchaser regular, Portland lawyer, John Mansfield.   He tends to view phrases literally and on one of our bar trips after he saw a sign stating, “Temporary Dog Play Area,” commented, “Given my scheduling constraints, I would be interested in getting one of those temporary dogs.”

Okay, so let’s assume you either don’t have a dog or you just dropped off Fido at the Sniff Hotel and want to have a nightcap in the vicinity.  Just walk one block to a neat little neighborhood bar at 19th and Quimby.

The bar at Quimbys.

The bar at Quimbys.

Quimby’s prior to 2011 was named Cheers, which allows mentioning one of my favorite quotes from Cliff Clavin – intrepid regular at the beloved television bar:

“Well Norm, it’s like this.  A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo.  And when the herd is hunted, it’s the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first.  This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole….because the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

Wikimedia Commons - Public Domain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:American_bison_k5680-1.jpg) US Department of Agriculter

The beer vs. buffalo analogy as framed by Cheers’ Cliff Clavin (Wikimedia Commons – public domain)

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first.  In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s always why you are smarter after a few beers.”

Quimby’s is a quaint and typical neighborhood bar – with seven beers on tap.  Although they have a decent menu including sandwiches, pizza, good soups and more, the bar has a partnership, of sorts, with six food carts immediately adjacent to the back entrance and patrons can bring their cart cuisine inside while consuming their favorite beverage.

The patio and adjacent food carts

The patio and adjacent food carts

According to Steve, the affable bartender, who has been in the business 16 years, although he had just started at Quimby’s that day, their specialty is Buffalo Wings – we verified that they were really good.

They also serve reasonably priced breakfast all day, although when I tried to order one of the breakfast combinations in the early afternoon of my second visit, was informed that they had run out of eggs.

I had heard that the bar could be rather sparsely populated although the late afternoon of my first visit with my daughter and her boyfriend, Ryan, on a Thursday, we had to scramble for a table because it was Trivia Night and people came early for what is usually a big and raucous crowd.  The neighborhood is growing by leaps and bounds and patronage at the bar will continue to grow – especially in the summer with the patio area available.

Laura and Ryan with Thebeerchaser logo

Laura and Ryan with Thebeerchaser logo

There is both a free pool and ping-pong table plus darts, pinball and three big screen TVs which have PAC 12 and Big 10 broadcasts – evidently Ohio State and Michigan State fans frequent the bar to root for their teams.  Happy Hour is every day from 3:00 to 6:00 and they have specials each night such as Taco Tuesdays, Whiskey Wednesdays, etc.        P1020008

A recent Yelp review summarized pretty well by stating:

“The service is rather impeccable.  Attentive, kind and respectable bartenders round out an overall enjoyable experience.”   

     

So the next time you’re in Northwest Portland, give both Sniff and Quimby’s a visit.

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Sniff Café             1528 NW Raleigh Street

Quimby’s                   1502 NW 19th

(To view the map with all the bars reviewed by Thebeerchaser, click on the “View Larger Map” link at the bottom of the map below)