Years in the Oak
For the latest release of Adam From the Wood, Alan Sprints left his signature strong ale in a variety of barrels for three whole years. Usually, when a barrel is left that long it turns sour and funky, and only good for adding a little oomph to a blended lambic. Somehow, despite sitting in porous oak for months on end, this batch never seemed to pick up those spoiling buggers. Maybe that’s the antimicrobial effect of alcohol. The finished beer is 12% ABV.
Adam From the Wood’s high alcohol content also makes natural bottle conditioning difficult to gauge. Hair of the Dog released the new batch completely still, and unlike in past years, it is clearly labeled as such. The beer pours like cold water. No amount of agitation will bring out bubbles. But that doesn’t mean it tastes like syrup. There’s a hint of fuzz on the tongue. Who knows, in a few years it might build up into a proper head.
That doesn’t mean Adam From the Wood doesn’t taste great right now, flat. The scent is chocolaty with a fruity edge. Intense bittersweet cocoa powder meets plummy sweetness. The body is smooth, despite being flat, it isn’t syrupy or sticky. The flavor is a blend of brownie batter and aged ruby Port, thick and decadent yet elegantly dry. The wood in the name is new oak barrels. The fresh barrels add a hint of vanilla but no spirit flavor, not that the beer needs anymore going on. The long aging shows up around the edges. That old soy sauce flavor adds an umami note that could be off putting, but in this blend adds a counterpoint to the fruity sweetness.
I will definitely be sitting on my extra bottles for a few years. There isn’t much room to improve the flavor, but a little carbonation would nice. There might still be a few bottles available this weekend at Hair of the Dog’s 25th anniversary event. Also look out for Don, a new “double barleywine” named for beloved Portland publican Don Younger.