Fred is a Strong Ale, deemed “Golden Special Ale” by the brewery. It belongs on the year-round lineup from Hair of the Dog, and was named in honor of beer historian and writer, Fred Eckhardt. This is brewed with an impressive total of ten hop varieties! It’s clearly unfiltered, revealing loads of visible yeast sedimentation from the secondary fermentation in the bottle.
Aromas reveal fragrant yeast like flowers with a certain degree of earthy funk, which entwine with hops that give an herbal touch. Malts bring up heavy sweet notes of toffee, honey, and maple syrup. Fruity aromatics resemble fig newtons, dried apricot, orange, and spiced apple. Alcohol comes across like rum.
The palate opens with a deep, rounded malt body carrying rich, sweet flavors like butterscotch, brown sugar, and molasses. A fruity character emerges with details of fig and red apple. Hops appear as tropical fruit, followed by an orange high note that rises with a dull, sour highlight. Modest bitterness emerges, washing into spicy rye with earthy, almost woody undertones. Digging slightly deeper, roasted barley begins to add cocoa notes, reminiscent of chocolate covered raisins. An escalating sweetness reaches a pinnacle point with a final kick of caramel. Fruity esters leave behind hints of boozy solvent. The mouthfeel is slick, creamy, and sticky, then thins out with a touch of dryness, closing in modest warmth.
Malts completely dominate this beer, while hops play more of a modest, supportive role. It appears to draw upon several different styles for influence, those which lean toward malts with a sticky, fruity, sweet tenacity. I’m not sure how, but the drinkability remains decent, which is impressive considering the circumstances. I’ve always loved Fred and felt he was a rather unique fellow who doesn’t quite compare to anyone else. I will continue to gladly return to this wonderful brew. Hair of the Dog know how to brew. I recommend it to those of you who have a thirst for malty, sweet, complex ales.