Hair of the Dog, located in Portland, Oregon, is an interesting brewery. They produce unusual beers, often very strong and very hoppy, and quite frankly they’re not everyone’s cup of tea; they are more of an acquired taste.
(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.