(Quick segue: My brother is not a big fan of their beer. One year we were at the Oregon Brewers Festival and Hair of the Dog had their beer Fred on tap, but because it’s a strong ale, it required two tokens for the taster rather than the usual one. My brother, noticing them, commented that he hardly ever drank their beer so he got a taster. He came back, took a drink of the beer, made a face, and said, "Now I remember why I don’t drink their beer!" and promptly handed me the mug.)
Tonight I had a bottle of Ruth that a co-worker gave me. I’m on the fence when it comes to Hair of the Dog, so I tried it. Overall, it’s not bad, but it does have that unique HotD character that’s present in all their beers that I’ve had; I think perhaps it’s the hops, but a good part of of it comes from the strength of the alcohol. Ruth is only 5.6% alcohol by volume, but it still had that strong alcohol character.
Appearance: Poured cloudy, the color of golden straw with a white head that quickly dissipated. The cloudiness comes from the yeast present in the bottle (all their beers are bottle conditioned).
Smell: Floral, earthy and hops.
Taste: Malty and has that distinctive HotD hop bitterness. Seems to me there’s lots of hops in this beer, all earthy and spicy and bitter. And there’s that stronger alcohol character; I wonder if it’s the yeast?
Mouthfeel: On the thinner side, complemented by the carbonation—it wasn’t heavy, but is on the sparkling side.
Over on BeerAdvocate they score it 82 out of 100 ("worth a try"), with only 85% approval. RateBeer is similar, scoring 3.42 out of 5, putting it into their 77th percentile. A quick scan of the reviews on both sites shows that people are in the same boat here: they either like it or don’t quite know what to do with it. I like it well enough, but it’s not a beer I would buy regularly.