Matt | Hair of the Dog Brewing Company / Brewery and Tasting Room

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Brewed by:
Hair of the Dog Brewing Company / Brewery and Tasting Room
Oregon, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed using two Munich malts, two Smoked malts and two types of Belgian candy sugar. It was aged in 33 year old Bourbon barrels and Apple Eau de Vie barrels for about one year.

First release: February 2009 (a.k.a. 'Bottleworks X')
Second release: November 2010
Third release: October 2013

Added by msubulldog25 on 01-27-2009

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Reviews: 238 | Ratings: 838
Photo of trappistlover
4.1/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(courtesy of Daknole!). Pours near black with great aroma of bourbon and some fruit. Taste was sweet with noticeable alcohol. Full bodied and delicious! Thanks Dak! This was a real treat. I'd been wanting to try this for quite a while and Dak comes through.

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Photo of Lothore
4.39/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a dark brown hue with little to no head.

S- Prune, chocolate, caramel, hints of sour cherry.

T- Hints of anise up front, sweet brown sugar notes, lots of raisin and prune, sour cherries fade to a faint coffee finish.

M- Thick with medium-low carbonation.

D- An intensely interesting beer that leads to a deeply visceral experience. At first I wasn't quite sure the flavors meshed well for me but after sifting through layer after layer and enjoying it as it warms I have to say it's up there with some of the most interesting beers I have had the chance to taste.

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Photo of koopa
4.44/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage 12oz bottle received in a trade with a generous BA thanks!

Appearance: Pours a deep chestnut brown with the faintest red highlights around the edges. The crown is non existent although the tiniest off white circle of lace has formed around the outside perimeter of the body.

Smell: Nice lightly charred smoky wood, apple, a delicious whiff of alcohol, and a hint of chocolate.

Taste: Same as the nose for the most part but the chocolate appears in the beginning, the apple takes over, then alcohol finishes.

Mouthfeel: Fairly full bodied and a bit low on carbonation but with the high abv and the flavor profile it works well!

Drinkability: Its a big beer for sure but its tasty as well!


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Photo of CrellMoset
4.44/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle courtesy of uhwutur8, picked up at the original release, poured in to a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a smoky, woody charcoal, opaque to even direct light save for around the edges, where it's reduced to a vaguely translucent cherry copper amber. An aggressive pour became more aggressive when the head seemed slow to form, though even that didn't coax more than half an inch out. It seemed for a time that there would be no head, before a sudden late surge of effervescence burst forth from the depths, though it didn't rise with enough quickness to actually result in the formation of any crown. It instead rose at approximately the same level at which it dissipated at the surface, resulting in a thin, delicate collar, breath of snow on the surface, and nothing of note on the side of the tulip. Subsequent sips, however, do save this one's score by leaving nice dashes and patches of snow dripping and dotting up and down along the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Can I get this in an air freshener please? Easily this beer's best attribute, the nose is absolutely brimming with aromatic barrel notes and spices and ripe with sweet fruits. From a base of mellow and mature smoky malts mingling with cocoa, toast, and molasses, this one evolves in to a symphony of fruity and spirit-like overtones, from the obvious influences of the Apple Eau de Vie (or, more properly, Eau de Vie de Pomme) barrels - contributing pure cider tones as well as a nice sherry-like liquor tone - and the bourbon, the latter of which is remarkably mature and sublime, its faint spicyness and refined profile interacting beautifully with the barrel sugars and lighter malt sugars of the base beer. Just fantastic.

Taste: A fantastic flavor profile on this one, though not quite up to par with the nose. The base beer is sweet, though not by any means cloying - there's enough toast, dark toffee, molasses, earth, and fat, thick, dark smoke to counteract the brighter caramel, honey-like Candi sugar notes, and bready Munich malts, not to mention the slew of fruit sugars concentrated in this one. While we're on the topic, the array of fruits represented here is remarkable - from the obligatory apple to, in order: pears, apricots, peaches, lychee fruit, cherries, dates, figs, and white raisins. The whole thing is amplified by the "cane syrup" factor, or that which naturally accompanies all canned fruits from my childhood. The barrel notes - a faint amount of wood, though plenty of vanilla and less coconut - mingle with an impressively faded quantity of alcohol, all the more impressive given the 11.5% as well as the harsh overtones associated with the spirits here generally.

Mouthfeel: Very low, almost non-existent carbonation doesn't too much for a beer that's already quite sweet. Honey-like in its thickness, this one is marginally cloying at points, like a liqueur, though the alcohol spice and barrel notes keep it interesting enough that it's not a sugary mess.

Drinkability: Maybe I'm just growing curmudgeonly in my old beer age. This beer straddles a very interesting divide, showcasing both deep, smoky, dark toastiness as well as bright, green, fruity overtones. As a genre-blending experiment, it succeeds - I've never had a beer quite like this, to be sure. And not to sell it short - it succeeds on several other levels too, least of which is the divine nose and the masterful blending and complexity of the mouth. But I still require lift, head, lace, et al - this one had its procedural defects, and though they're not glaring, they do take their toll; it was a little difficult to finish those essentially flat final few sips. Of course, all that being said, this was still a pretty damn awesome beer - it's not every day you're going to get this many flavors and aromas out of a single 12 oz. bottle. Here's (three years late) to Bottleworks 10th Anniversary and to HotD for a great brew.

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Photo of seeswo
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottleworks X version poured at a recent Madison tasting.

Pours a slightly translucent dark brown. Smells of sweet figs, boozy raisins and a small amount of hops. A bit of smoke and maybe a touch of apple round it out. One of the more complex noses on a beer I have had. The taste is a crazy combination of mild hops (or other bitterness), rum raisins, dark fruit, smoke, apple, booze and vanilla. A lot going on in there. Feels like I could keep sipping it and get more flavors. Really heavy in the mouth with limited carbonation. Definitely a sipper, this is either a good sharing beer or a beer to be enjoyed in front of a fire, slowly, on a cold night.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.29/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Paul (2010 release), appropriate Hair of the Dog tulip glass courtesy of Mihir.

A: The beer pours into the glass with an impenetrable darkness and a small khaki colored head.

S: A very sweet and complex nose here. Lots of caramel, toffee, dates, figs, raisins, and wood. There's a nice bourbon aroma along with lots of vanilla. Perhaps some black cherries, red apples, and even a bit of smoke/peat.

T: Not quite as impressive as the nose, but still damn good. Lots of caramel, bourbon, oak, and apple. There's a definite smoke flavor along with some mildly tart raisins and cherries. The alcohol is more pronounced here which is really the main pitfall.

M: The body is about as full as you can get with a fairly low, but smooth carbonation.

D: A bottle of this is plenty, but a real pleasure to drink. Sort of wish I would have traded for more than one.

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Photo of sisuspeed
4.64/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to glazeman and jamdugan for the bottles!

Poured into a Portsmouth tulip glass. Very excited to try this one. Body is a dark, murky, red-hued brown with a few patches of thin foam that float across the top. Still leaves some nice lacing on the glass.

Apple, caramel, sweet bourbon and vanilla on the nose. Oaky and chocolaty. A touch of smoke, leather and a little bit of booze. This is exceptional. An amazing aroma! Complex an decadent.

Chocolate, fudge, sweet bourbon booze and oaky vanilla on the tongue. Green apple and red grapes with just a touch of smokiness. Delicious.

Mouthfeel is rich, smooth and creamy. Perfect carbonation. Alcohol is warming, but not overdone. Body is thick without being too heavy. Perfect.

Drinkability is very good. Definitely a big beer, but I could sip on this all night. I'm amazed at how well it is already drinking. Not sure how long I'll be able to keep my other bottle in the cellar. A perfect beer for a cold winter's night. HotD has created a masterpiece. If you like stong ales, old ales, barleywines etc., this beer is a must.

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Photo of abuliarose
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter, revealing luscious ruby and chocolate brown body under a thin film, some lacing. Looks pretty good for a strong ale. Smells absolutely delicious with a strong bourbon, caramel and slight creamy chocolate presence. Some pecans, calvados and toasted coconut as well. Really nice smells that go very well together.

Tastes fruity, smoky and slightly toasted with a nice vanilla oak richness to the malt. Sweet up front with vanilla and cacao nib. Clean lingering finish of date molasses. Boy do I like the taste! Perfect as an after dinner sipper or something to enjoy by the fire after a romp in the snow. Nice warmth after a couple sips but the alcohol is not at all assaulting. Mouthfeel is smooth with just a kiss of dryness in the middle, medium bodied and not thin but not syrupy. Not really carbonated, drinks more like a sweet digestif.

Overall I really enjoy this one. Wish I had a whole bunch of them.

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Photo of domtronzero
4.57/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Clear very dark ruby brown with a fluffy, quickly collapsing, tannish head that lingers as a ring around the glass for some time.

S - Sweet caramel, bready malts, with a smoky chocolate aroma. Vanilla, subtle bourbon and a little bit of fruity aroma (maybe apples).

F/M - Rich smoky caramelly chocolate malts. Apples and vanilla in the end. Dry finish with a lingering smoky vanilla flavor. Moderate bitterness with medium full body and thick, viscous mouthfeel. Adequate carbonation, but still very rich and silky.

D - This is a big time sipper. Full of absolutely delicious flavors, and thick full chewiness. Perhaps one of my favorite beers lately. Absolutely world class.

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Photo of 321jeff
4.59/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle from the November 2010 release. A huge thanks to waltersrj for making this happen!

Pours a deep reddish brown with no head but some nice legs as I swirl it around in my glass.

Aroma is amazing and quite complex. I am getting some dark fruits, bourbon, smoke, apples, and a good bit of alcohol.

Taste starts off with some sweet dark fruits and oak then moves on to more dark fruit sweetness and smoke, and finishes quite smoky.

Mouthfeel is thick and coats the whole mouth. There is next to no carbonation, but it's not really needed. This is incredibly smooth. Definitely a sipper and a challenging beer, almost more of a spirit than a beer. Very nice and I hope to be able to try it again someday.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.54/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz 2010 bottle, shared by Jeff and split in snifters

Pours a thick, still syrupy looking dark chocolate brown with almost non-existent head or lacing. Aroma is an intoxicating blend of brandy soaked apples, vanilla, molasses, brown sugar, light smoke, etc. Very complex and strong; I've never smelled a beer quite like this in depth of aroma and nuance.

Flavor is extremely sweet and fruity with a stronger smoke presence than the aroma which gives the finish a light spiciness. Mouthfeel is very lightly carbonated with a thick, velvety lush mouthfeel bordering on syrup like. Vanilla and brandy dominate the sweetness in the front of the palate and the freshness of this bottle is apparent in the finish in it's booziness. Give this another year and it'll be perfect.

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Photo of Deuane
4.17/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the February 2009--'Bottleworks X release.

A-Copper tinted deep brown with a thin light tan head that held on strong and deposited spotty lace.

S-Fairly complex with notes of earth, oak, smoke, prune and deep malty sweetness.

T-Very bitter up front with a strong oak character coming to the forefront. Prominent raisin/prune notes with a significant earthy hop bite and an interesting toasted coconut, dark chocolate finish.

M-Medium body, VERY dry and fairly sharp in the finish. Drying notes of oak and walnut build with warming.

D-Quite strong, very nice and certainly tasty. Alcohol heat does become present and noticeable upon warming.

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Photo of waltersrj
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

How is this beer not an A+ on here? That seems crazy to me.

Pours: Deep, dark brown with a slight red hue and a minimal tan head that quickly dissipates and leaves behind swirling tan legs.

Nose: Can you beat it? Tobacco, slight Apple Brandy (from the barrels), peat malt (smoke), slight cherry, chocolate, oak, leather, and dark fruits.

Taste: Same. A beautiful array of leather, chocolate, cherry, oak, vanilla, apples, and a lasting aftertaste of leather, smoke, tobacco, oak, and apple brandy.

Mouthfeel: Thick like Adam, not medicinal thick but enough to be appreciated as it coats the tongue.

Final thoughts: A beer to remember...expertly crafted by Alan Sprints. Better than Cherry Adam, I wish it was as readily available as Adam...I could drink it every day.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.22/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, big thanks to Nate for this rare tick for me, drank from a perfect pint glass...A dark brown with a hint of mahogney with a small light tan head. The 2010 is actually carbonated!...When you get this out, let it warm for a bit then the nose really starts to show off; apple brandy, with molasses, and a hint of spice. On the sweeter side, but meaty enough to not get in the way...The taste is liquified apples soaked in brandy, so great, nails a fruit the way Short's can. Its a little hot, but very good.

This is really yummy, surprised this lived up to the hype. Track this down!

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Photo of teamizm
4.32/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Roodie for sharing this as well to Brian at Blue Palms for allowing us to crack this one open in the bar.

Poured into a goblet and allowed to warm up for about 10 minutes.

A - Dark, mahogany brown, almost espresso like with less than a finger head that disappears.

S - Amazing. Chocolate, maple syrup, tobacco, coffee, brandy. Just super complex and really the most amazing part of this beer.

T - Smoky, maple syrup with toffee and chocolate notes. Sweet red apples and some brandy notes as well. It taste amazing, but it smells just a tad better than it tastes.

M - so carbonation, very smooth.

D - Not too much of an alcohol burn on this one despite the 11.5% on this one. Excellent rainy day beer (exactly when I tried it - on a pouring Saturday evening in LA).

Love it fresh and can't wait to try to aged.

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Photo of roodie
4.37/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage, received in a trade from jamdugan. thanks! shared with teamizm and Brian from Blue Palms.

A: pours a dark brown, almost black with scant tan head. head disperses quickly. no visible carbonation.

S: wow, this beer has a lot going on. plums and figs, maple syrup, and some dark chocolate.

T: taste is even more complex. besides the dark fruits and the maple syrup, hints of graham crackers and some spiciness, somewhat like a ramen noodle spice packet. hint of carbonation on the tongue.

M: syrupy, lingers on the palate. chewy. no heat experienced here

D: this is certainly a sipper and having split it with 2 others was perfect. would I drink another? yes, but on a different night. planning on aging one for a year or 2.

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Photo of jdense
4.39/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle enjoyed at HOTD Tasting Room, $15, 12.1.2010.

Dark brown not black body, flat as a pancake no visible carbonation, minimal lacing. Nose is very complex, apple, smoke, some barrel notes, caramel, burnt brown sugar, noble hops. Taste mirrors the nose, brown sugar, plums, prunes, candy sugar, good dose of smoke as it warmed, with the ripe apple from barrels constantly present and balancing the other 'deep' flavors. Mouthfeel is medium full, good effervescence despite lack of visible carbonation, not sticky. ABV well hidden, a sipper to be sure. A very complex beer to be savored. Highly recommended.

EDIT- Shared a 2009 vintage at HOTD compliments of Dr. Will, his Ohio guest and John Michaelsen, $25, 7.27.11. The barrel aging and bottle conditioning gave this world class beer a really sublime feel, the apples were mellowed and the brown sugar had subsided. My observation at the bottom of the glass, 'this is a beer worth waiting in line to buy' says it all. Awesome, upped overall score to 4.5 from 4.0 previous review.

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Photo of oregone
4.72/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally had to crack one open...
A: Deep mahogany with hints of murky red at edges. Decent head for HotD, settling into a haze of fine bubbles on the surface.
S: Complex. Ripe apple, smoke, bourbon and barrel notes, tobacco leaf, continually unfolding.
T: Rich barrel notes with the bourbon a mild component. Smoke and tobacco, raisin, dates, some faint dried apple, etc. Very complex and delicious.
M: Thick but not cloying. The light carbonation refreshes as it coats.
D: I would love the opportunity and excuse to crack a couple or few of these. Alas, far too limited.

A great brew. Worthy of the hype and the HotD label. Complex and certainly to be savored.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
4.44/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this 12oz bottle into large wine glass. It poured a blackish purple with almost no head retention. Only a little bit of non sticky lacing. The smell was overwhelming, in a good way. Lots of apple, dark fruits, pepper, sherry, and alcohol. This is an incredibly complex beer with many different flavors to pick up. Dark fruits (currants, raisins, plum), green apples very strong, tobacco and smoke, vanilla, cherries, and pleasantly black licorice. This medium to heavier body beer had alcoholic heat with a slick and semi dry mouthfeel. This beer is going to get even better with some age on it and I'm looking forward to it. A delicious, complex brew.

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Photo of northwestmark
5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Congratulations Alan, this is a top 10 beer in the world type beer! So complex. There is obviously a little more carbonation than the Matt X and I think in two years this beer will be perfect.

Appearance- Dark, sticky, slight bubbles around the edges.

Smell- Smoke, Caramel Apples, Bourbon, Vanilla, Chocolate.

Taste- So complex. Taking small sips and allowing the beer to warm brings out more and more flavors with each sip. We noted vanilla, brown sugar, both barrel flavors were evident, but bourbon more so, a sweet syrupy chocolate body and smokiness lingers on your tongue in the finish.

Mouthfeel- A slight bit thinner than the Matt X, but I'm guessing that a couple years of age will change that. Carbonation is a little better than the Matt X and I think this will be perfectly carbonated within one to two years. The current carbonation is actually acceptable for a beer of this viscousity.

Drinkability- Slightly hot right now. But still smooth enough to enjoy immediately.

In closing- If you can get this beer grab some and cellar it for the next few years to come. This beer beats the pants off of other big beers I've tried like Dark Lord, Darkness, Firestone 13 etc.

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Photo of hopsbreath
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I first met ramnuts when I ordered a case of Sculpin and posted a thread in the North West forum inquiring "who in Portland wanted a couple bottles at cost". He was actually the first local BA to respond to the thread and the only one to give me his address to deliver the bottles. I showed up at his house with a couple bottles in hand and expected $20. He in turn gave me the $20 and a bottle each of '09 Doggie Claws and Bottleworks X Matt. My reaction was something to the tune of "no...don't...stop...murder", and proceeded to take both bottles home with me. My original plan was to review Matt as my 100th. The weekend after I hit my 99th review Cascade had Bourbonic Plague and Vlad the Imp Aler on tap. There went the whole 100th review reserved for Matt and I then planned on using it for my 200th review. Today while I was waiting in the line outside HotD for the release of the new vintage of Matt with ramnuts and my wife TulipSnifter, I decided to crack the different vintages side by side and tap out some reviews. So all back story aside, thanks Frank. Misty and I loved the hell out of our little vertical tasting tonight. On to some reviews!

Bottleworks X

A: Deep plum-brown with a small ring of sandstone froth and little bit of wispy bubbles across the cap greet me upon the pour. No lacing but none is expected. 4.5/5

S: My wife and I just went to Clear Creek Distillery yesterday and sampled their Eau de Vie which was one of the barrels Matt was aged in. I believe because of this, I can better pull out the essence of the fruit spirit. Its a rather sweet yet clean apple heat that really shines in this beer. Classic Bourbon is easily quaffable as well. Rich tobacco and leather are all over this. Fantastic. 5/5

T: Milk chocolate, more of the sweet apple heat, a lovely touch of campfire toasted marshmallow, and a hint of vanilla are all the flavors that I can easily identify coming through the rich, complex layers. The finish is long and sexy.! This is THE definition of catching lightning in a bottle. Exquisite. 5/5

M: We have a touch of carbonation which is just enough to prickle up this super silky liqueur like drink. Residual sugars make this a bit of a sticky finisher but I do not mind in the slightest. 4.5/5

D: Simply mind blowing how easy this is to drink. I have to make a concerted effort not to drink this too fast. Its really hard not to simply drink right through my six ounces and not bother with a review. This is without a doubt my favorite HotD beer to come out of a bottle to date. Brilliant. 5/5


A: This has the look of a muddied french pressed coffee with cantaloupe highlights. Those highlights extend to the thicker, darker, and denser "glass ring" of foam (when compared to the BWX) that sits above the body. Very good looking although different from its older vintaged patriarch. 4/5

S: There exists more of the aggressive bourbon essence in this beer. The leather is still there but the Apple Eau de Vie is so much harder to pick out. Still very nice. 4.5/5

T: There's the sweet apple I was looking for! Along with the apple is the unmistakable heat from the bourbon barrel as well as the wood. Sweet chocolate and vanilla are almost cloyingly strong. Hopefully a little time will help sort out the flavors better similar to BWX because right now, they're not as distinct. Still quite good. 4/5

M: Moderate feel is not as heavy as expected. A surprising amount of carbonation livens this up on the palate. Again this is a slightly sticky beer...but again I'm not complaining! 4/5

D: What an insanely wonderful beer! I'm sitting on some more for a later date. If this turns into what the BWX vintage did, its an intoxicating treat to look forward too and watch progress! If you can get only one bottle of HotD beer, Matt is the one! Try it if you can. 5/5

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Photo of TulipSnifter
4.67/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottleworks X

Appearance: This vintage is dark brown. There are larger bubbles around the rim. Bubbles dissipate. Looks pretty heavy.
Smell: The smell is sweet but not overpowering. There is a little bit of a bourbon smell but there is no alcohol burn.
Taste: A little smoke, some bourbon, and quite a bit of sweet caramel. Very smooth.
Mouthfeel: Heavy body, lightly carbonated, but very smooth.
Drinkability: Very nice and easy to drink.

2010 Matt

Appearance: Dark brown with a ring of tiny bubbles that stay intact.
Smell: Very vibrant. I smell some apple and a little more heat than the Bottleworks vintage, not bad though. I guess the alcohol smell has tamed with the age of the older vintage.
Taste: Absolutely wonderful. Apple, sweet with a little heat, and the perfect amount of smoke. There is a little bite but nothing time won't take care of.
Mouthfeel: Carbonated! Lighter, crisper, and very fun to drink. It seems to have a little more bite because it's still young but some aging will probably take care of that if you want it a little smoother.
Drinkability: Great! It doesn't feel so heavy right now at this stage. The lighter, thinner feel makes it easier to drink but you will probably be able to get more nuances once you let it settle for a while. Both are still wonderful. Matt is wonderful!

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Photo of boMD
4.64/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

To start, YIKES! This beer is just so, oh so good. I have had the 2009 vintage three times. Unfortunately I had missed it on tap during Zwickelmania of 2009. But I had it the first time just a couple months after the initial bottle release. Again at the 16th anniversary dock sale, and just recently a third time.

After about a year and a half, the carbonation has subtly taking affect, and the brandy barrel aged qualities have created a nice dominance.

A near black pour with a thin khaki head. Smelled of booze and smoked grains. Soft, low bodied palate. Smokey and robust with a red meat character. Dark fruits and big cherry and caramel apple notes. Low bitterness but with noticeable alcohol flavors similar to port wine. Finished spicy with a smoked liqueur flavor.

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Photo of alcstradamus
4.62/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

OK, I finally decided to crack open my last bottle of this now that it is nearing 2 years of age. I reviewed this over a year ago (original review text and update below), and I felt that it was a beer that was on the verge of greatness but didn't quite get there because of a watery flatness. Upon pouring my latest bottle, I was still greeted with no head and it appeared that not much had changed. However, once it hit my palate the SLIGHTEST bit of carbonation was present, and boy did it make a world of difference. This beer is now exactly what I thought it could be. A world class barrel treatment on an already world class beer. I don't think there is much room for improvement now either, as the alcohol heat is warming but not distracting and the flavors mesh extremely well. If you are still holding onto a bottle, drink it now and be in for a treat.

Original review text from August 2009:

Can't believe I got this as an extra....thanks Derek!

Pours near black in color, I gave it a pretty hard pour and didn't really even manage to get the slightest of heads, although a collar of bubbles did rise eventually.

Apples are the first thing that comes out in the smell, with a wave of oak/bourbon rushing in behind it. Massive, boozy nose on this one, but luckily no rubbing alcohol heat to go with it. The slightest hint of fudge and caramel in the background.

Very odd and unique flavor here, a product of the unique barrel aging used to make it I'm sure. Complex as hell....with chocolate, apple skin, bourbon, oak, vanilla, and alcohol heat being the most recognizable (not in that order though...this one is pretty hot). I think this one would benefit from a bit more carbonation, it is amazing but doesn't quite mesh together enough to get a 5.

Mouthfeel is fairly flat and medium bodied. More carbonation could make this one of the best beers I've ever had.

At this high of alcohol content and having this much booziness, drinkability is fairly low in terms of volume of beer...but this is just so complex and challenging that I can't put the glass down and I am seeing it disappear before my eyes.

Update 8/31: I have not stopped thinking about this beer since I drank it. Originally, I submitted a 4.2 A- rating (changed the drinkability to a 5 on this update), but I want to stress that the ONLY reason this didn't get an A+ was the lack of carbonation. The flatness played a factor in every characteristic of the beer....but what I drank unquestionably had the potential to be one of the best beers ever to grace my lips. I now have a couple more bottles that I will crack down the line....and I am holding out hope that one of them has even a smidgen of carbonation so I can experience the true beauty of this beer.

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Photo of djbreezy
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a tulip at Hair of the Dog in Portland, OR. BA user squaremile was kind enough to purchase a bottle and share it with me on my first visit to the brewery and tasting room.

appearance - dark and oily, not much head or lacing

smell - smoke, tobacco, apple, brandy

taste - hugely complex but carefully crafted, smooth notes of smoke, tobacco, apple, brandy, sugar and malts individually punch the senses

mouthfeel - thick and smooth, light carbonation (just right)

drinkability - what an amazing beer to try, complex, unimaginable, creative, one of the more memorable beers i've had

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Matt from Hair of the Dog Brewing Company / Brewery and Tasting Room
4.42 out of 5 based on 838 ratings.
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