I’ve said it before on my blog and I’ll say it again: I’m a bit of a Hair of the Dog fan-boy. I love their bottle design and the fact they sell primarily 12oz bottles; I love their beer structuring of selling a few dialed recipes and adding all these variations of the same base beer; but most of all I love the beer itself. Everything’s bottle conditioned and brewed with aging in mind – but they are all also good fresh.
Here’s a prime example of a variant. The base beer, Adam, is a dark “old ale” which is a lightly smoked, not-quite-stout ale with a lot of complexity already. Cherry Adam’s brewed by taking Adam and marrying it with cherries in bourbon casks for 15 months.
The result is as glorious as I could have hoped for – more glorious than I expected, really. It looks almost the same as Adam does – nearly black with a tan head – but there is a slight hint of plum in the body and pink in the head too. I knew this was going to be good as soon as I took a whiff – cherries, plums, dried fruit, all with a tart edge, but also a rich malt sweetness and gentle smoke character also.
The smoke picked up a bit when I took a sip, though it is not overpowering and balances great with the dark and red fruit body. The smoke comes across as charred wood and peat, which I really enjoyed. There is a tannin and oak quality here that contributes to the beer tasting and feeling much like a sherry or port.
Speaking of the feel – this beer is exceptional in this regard also. Mouth-coating like honey, it just sticks and stays. Its sweetness is tempered perfectly, not coming across cloying at all. Also the beer has a great warming effect but there is no taste or burn of alcohol to be noted.
I would say this is a very good age for this beer (this bottle was about 16 months old at consumption), though I bet it will still have many great years ahead as well.