Hair of the Dog Dave: The Rarest Beers in America


Hair of the Dog Brewing Company’s Dave doesn’t look like much. The clear bottles are about the size of soy sauce and are adorned only with the image of a bulldog in a hat. When these bottles arrive at auction, however, they fetch prices into the thousands. A recent release of bottles from the brewery carried a fixed price of $2,000 a bottle with a percentage of the proceeds going to Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Dave was brewed just once, in 1994. To make the beer, its creator, Alan Sprints, started off with a batch of his flagship beer, Adam. Adam is based on an obscure historical German beer style called Adambier, which is characterized by dark roasted malt along with smoke malt and high alcohol. Hair of the Dog’s version has notes of roast, leather, and smoke and is one of our absolute favorite beers.

To make Dave, Sprints freeze-distilled a batch of Adam three times. The purpose of freeze-distilling is to remove water from the beer, concentrating both the flavor and strength. Typical freeze-distilling processes will provide an alcohol by volume boost of 2 to 3 percent. Sprints concentrated the 300 gallons of Adam, which he concentrated down to 100 gallons, turning a 10 percent-alcohol beer into a 29 percent-alcohol barleywine Frankenstein. The beer won a gold medal at San Francisco’s Toronado (pub) Barleywine Festival in 1994, but it was never brewed again.

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