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June 1, 2022

How Alan Sprints Helped Us with the First Batch of BBIS

Back when I was a homebrewer, I used to seek out Blue Dot whenever bottles would land in the Seattle area. Similar to all Hair of the Dog beers, it really stretched the definition of what a beer could be. Everyone in my homebrew club really looked up to Hair of the Dog, and we considered it a must visit brewery in Portland.

So a few months after we opened Reuben’s Brews back in 2012, when I posted on a Brewers Association forum asking whether anyone had spare bourbon barrels available, I had to pinch myself when Hair of the Dog founder Alan Sprints responded offering a couple of his. I took a day off work (I still had a day job back then) and drove down to Portland with a friend to pick them up. As Alan got them ready, he answered my technical questions and helped me immensely on making that first barrel-aged beer a success. And all of this was etched in stone for eternity—or plastic at least—as the barrels rolled around in the back of my car on the journey back to Seattle and cut up the doors!

The beer that went into those barrels was to be the first batch of BBIS, our award-winning imperial stout aged in bourbon casks. That beer was an amazing success when it debuted in 2013. In fact, we believe it was the first Washington beer that had a line for its release! To this day it forms the backbone of our barrel aging program.

Given the importance of Hair of the Dog to my homebrewing days and to our early barrel aging program, it seemed perfect to collaborate with them on our 10th anniversary series. Particularly as Alan has since announced that 2022 is its last year in operation. Fittingly, we celebrated by brewing a very big English Barleywine, naming it Barnacles after our (very big) small French bulldog who’s the star of the label.

Cheers to 10 years, and most importantly to Alan Sprints, who has done so much for the beer community during his amazing career.

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