Hair of the Dog Brewery's Fred From The Wood is a terrific beer. You won't find another like it. Not at your local grocer, not at the bar down the street on 10 cent wing night, not at the liquor store with the huge neon Corona sign. Forget it. If you want Fred, you can troll the beer trading websites, or you can show up in Portland, Oregon at some wee, small hour of the morning and stand in line for its release. Fortunately, I have a great friend like Shaun who was crazy - er - passionate enough to travel to Portland, get up in time to be at the brewery at 6 a.m., purchase some of this heavenly brew, then send me a bottle for my own sampling.
If you recall, loyal followers, Shaun reviewed this beer back in November. Likely, the bottle I tried four months later slightly differed from his November quaff. As a bottle conditioned beer, Fred's active yeasts are constantly changing it. The beer is kind of unclassifiable, anyway, so the fact that it's continually morphing in the bottle compounds its mysterious emerged-from-the-woods character.
Shaun noted that the brewer describes it as a brown ale. It definitely features the malty odor of an oaked brown, such as Tyranena Brewery's Rocky's Revenge. It pours a gigantic, bulbous head, so it is super-carbonated. I understand that the hyper-carbonation occurs because of some serious post-bottling action by the yeasts. The beer, I suppose, can be described as clear in the sense that it's not sediment-filled. I found the color to be chestnut colored. Rich and tan, the color suggests a substantial mouthfeel, which is indeed the case. The mouthfeel is lush, like many Belgian ales, and the drinker feels a healthy amount of carbonation. I detected a substantial fruit and malt core backed by a strong ale foundation. It finishes with a sweet maltiness, beautifully restrained by a sharper flavor, likely the toast flavors imparted by the oak. It's simply elegant and a great drinking experience.
I'm also glad that the serving size was a 12 oz. bottle. I was able to savor and appreciate it without concern about having leftovers or about consuming the remainder and getting a case of the spins. This is a 10% beer - deceptively so, due to the brilliant disguising of the alcohol with the malt and oak.
PROS: If you are a hop head like me, this beer will make you reconsider the world of malt-dominated beers.
CONS: Damn, Portland is a long way away and I'm a late sleeper, not apt to rising at 5 a.m.
VERDICT: For this holy water, I'm logging on to Expedia.com and preparing to caffeinate until I sweat.
RATING: * * * * * stars.