What is your favorite beer? That is a question I have been asked countless times over the years and it is not an easy question to answer. I generally give some long winded answer that doesn’t really answer the question. Most of the time at some point during that discussion I find myself bringing up one beer more often than any other, Adam from the Wood from Hair of the Dog Brewing.
During the 2011 release of Adam from the Wood I was lucky enough to grab a few bottles and every time I am in Portland I always have to make a stop at the brewery for a bottle or two.1 A few months back Hair of the Dog announced that they were not going to release Adam from the Wood this year but they are also releasing a version that was aged in rye whiskey barrels, instead of the bourbon barrels normally used for the release. Being a huge fan of rye whiskey I was extremely excited to get my hands on a bottle. I had to call in a few favors and trade away a few bottles but I was able to get a few bottles of each.
Finally the day has come and I get to open a bottle of the Rye Whisky version. I had heard reports of the bottles being flat and when I popped open the bottle there was barely noticeable hiss. I poured the beer into the glass and no head what so ever developed. The beer is completely flat. Not a great start but I am still excited to try it. It pours a dark brown that reveals mahogany edges when held to the light. The few random bubbles that appeared as I poured are long gone within a few seconds.
The aroma from the glass is a pungent and complex with all of the familiar aromas of a standard bottle of Adam: cocoa powder, molasses, raisins, leather and alcohol. There is also notes of smoke, brown sugar and a ton of influence from the barrel. Oak, vanilla and that rye spice I was really hoping for are all present. The aroma does not disappoint and it is one of those beers that I find myself sniffing over and over again in between each sip.
As I take my first sip I find many of the same flavors represented in the aroma. A big caramel like sweetness reminiscent of many old ales is the first thing that jumps out at me. Then a wave of flavors including raisins, smoke, leather and a bit of a musty earthy flavor. The rye spice comes in later in the sip as I swallow. The rye is quite noticeable and lingers into the finish. As with its bourbon barreled-aged sibling this beer gets a lot of its character from the barrel. The oaky vanilla flavors along with the rye really separate this beer from the herd. The beer does have a noticeable alcohol presence but nothing to the point where I would consider it a large negative.