In 1994, brewmaster Alan Sprints of Hair of the Dog Brewery in Portland, Oregon set out to create a beer like none other. That beer was named Dave and clocked in at a whopping 29% ABV. It sold for an outrageous $80 for a 12 oz bottle back then. At my recent visit to Hair of the Dog, I saw Dave on the menu for $1,500 a bottle, to be consumed only in the tasting room.
What’s the big deal with Dave? Dave is a unique type of barleywine, a high alcohol beer made for aging. It’s not possible to brew a beer to 29% ABV. For this trick Sprints took his award-winning Adam at 10% ABV and used a German brewing process similar to eisbock where the beer is frozen and some of the water is removed, increasing the body and alcohol by volume of the beer. Sprints did this three times to 300 gallons of Adam to get 100 gallons Dave to the amazing 29% ABV.
“When it was young, it was very hot and alcoholic, and almost hard to drink,” Sprints told NPR in an interview last year. “But now that it’s aged it’s become soft and lush.”
Soft and lush enough for $1,500 a bottle? That steep price may seem like a deal to some people. In September 2013, Sprints priced a dozen bottles at $2,000 each, thinking that it would take a few months to sell them. All 12 sold within hours to beer tasting groups and private collectors.
While Dave may be out of reach of your wallet, try the it’s younger brother Adam, or cousin Fred. Of course, Doggie Claws is one my favorite Christmas beers. Each are excellent and aging in my cellar.
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