Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hair of the Dog Matt Clone

With NHC approaching, my brewing focus lately has been centered on creating beers to serve at either Club Night or in the Hospitality Suite.  I’ll still probably enter a few into the competition for fun, but I get so much more enjoyment out of creating something that’s unique and complex rather than crafting the best possible example of a certain style.  Since I’ll be serving my beer to the public, I obviously want to lead with my best foot forward and what better way to do that than to attempt to recreate a beer that, to me, is very possibly the best I’ve ever had…Hair of the Dog’s commemorative beer Matt.

Matt is a beer that was originally created to honor the 10th anniversary of one of Seattle’s best bottle shops…Bottleworks.  This sinfully delicious concoction is absolutely unique in that it’s an intensely malty, relatively sweet beer with flavors of caramel, chocolate and dark fruits balanced with a hint of smoke from both peat and rauch malt.  The beer was then aged in 30 yr bourbon barrels and Eau de Vie de Pomme casks from Clear Creek Distillery in Portland before being blended for the final product.    

Alan Sprints, the owner/brewer of Hair of the Dog Brewery, has been very generous in giving out details about his more commonly produced beers such as Fred, Adam, and Doggie Claws, but locating information relating to Matt was a bit more of a challenge.  According to numerous unconfirmed web sources, Matt was based off of the grain bill for Adam and this served as a starting point for me (Alan produced an Adam recipe for Sean Paxton which you can view here).  According to Alan though, Matt is produced using two Munich Malts, 2 smoked malts, and 2 Belgian sugars and so Matt clearly isn’t just a scaled up, barrel aged version of Adam.

Knowing that Alan likes to use Gambrinus malts, I decided that I too would use their Pale malt as a base with significant portions of their 10 and 30 lovibond Munichs.  Two Munichs, check.  Unsure of which Belgian sugars are used, I opened up a bottle of Matt and tried to pick out the various flavors myself.  With so much going on in the beer, it was difficult to pinpoint the specific flavors exactly, but there were definitely a lot of caramel/toffee notes along with some underlying raisin-y/fig type flavors.  In the end I decided to go with a 50/50 mix of D1 and D2 Belgian Candi Syrup (D1 for the more caramel/molasses flavors and D2 for the more rich fruit flavors).  Two Belgian sugars, check.

Determining which smoked malts to use and the corresponding amounts caused me a bit of debate.  Adam definitely uses peated malt, along with rauch malt, but my sensitivity to it is pretty strong and the last thing that I wanted was for my Matt beer to come out tasting like band aides from all the peat phenols.  Alan mentions in the July 31st podcast of the Sunday Session that he does use peated malt, but that the phenol levels are quite different between the different maltsters (primarily Simpsons and Hugh Baird) and you have to be careful with what you choose.  After researching the two, I was excited to learn that the Hugh Baird variety only had a phenol level in the 4-6ppm range whereas Simpsons was up near 12-24ppm…but this excitement quickly vanished after an exhaustive search to locate some HB failed to provide any results.  In the end, and after doing a side by side taste of Matt and Adam, I decided that I would still use the Simpson’s malt, but just cut down the overall level.  If 3.2% of the grist from Adam is the Hugh Baird variety of peated malt, which has an average phenol level of 5ppm, I treated this as 16 units of peated phenols (3.2 x 5ppm = 16).  So, with only access to Simpsons malt, I knew that I wanted the overall peated phenol level to come in at about ½ to 2/3 the amount of that in Adam and so I ended up making only 0.55% of my grist Simpsons peated malt (0.55 x the average phenol level of Simpsons malt…18 = 10 phenol units).

As for the remainder of the grist, I tried to stick with either ingredients that Alan would use or malts from the various maltsters that he likes (i.e. Crisp crystal malts).  There’s an important distinction though between trying to replicate a recipe and replicate a result.  In the case of Matt, I wanted the result and so even though I’m sure Alan didn’t use all of the same ingredients or proportions that I did, my choices were based on the experience that I’ve had with these ingredients of the flavor contributions that I thought that they would impart. 

With the grist settled, it was time for brew day.  One of the ways in which Alan generates such rich, full bodied beers is through the use of a high temperature mash.  It seems counterintuitive to create such a high gravity beer starting with a 157° mash, but with a large pitch and a generous dose of oxygen, hopefully the Scottish Ale strain will be up for the challenge.  During the mash, I decided that I would leave the roasted grains out until mash-out so as not to have to adjust my water too much.  When I added them though, after 10 minutes the color was nowhere near the nearly opaque blackness of the original beer.  I was hesitant to add more grains since I didn’t want the end product to have any sort of roasted harshness, but after tasting the wort, there was definitely room for a second addition.

With a long, four-hour, melanoidin-producing boil, my Matt brew day turned out to be one of my longest on record.  Even though Alan pitches at 75° and ferments at 68°, the Scottish Ale strain is relatively clean and rather than risking any additional alcohol heat, I ended up pitching at 62° and fermenting at 60°.  As the fermentation slows, I’ll gradually increase the temperature up to 68° to finish and then rack half onto a half ounce of oak with Clear Creek’s 8 yr Eau de Vie de Pomme and half onto a half ounce of oak with Maker’s Mark.  After six months of aging, hopefully the beer will show some slight resemblance of the original Matt.

Hair of the Dog Matt

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 6.3
Total Grain (Lbs):  23.54
Anticipated OG:  1.108
Anticipated SRM:  37.8
Anticipated IBU:  74
Wort Boil Time (mins):  240
Anticipated ABV:  11.1%


56.6% - 14.0 lbs Gambrinus Pale Malt
15.2% - 3.75 lbs Gambrinus 10L Munich
11.1% - 2.75 lbs Gambrinus 30L Munich
4.0% - 1.00 lbs Crisp 77L Crystal Malt
3.2% - 0.8 lbs D2 Candi Syrup
3.2% - 0.8 lbs D1 Candi Syrup
3.0% - 0.75 lbs Crisp 45L Crystal Malt
1.5% - 6 oz. Crisp Chocolate Malt (See Notes Below)
1.0% - 4 oz. Weyerman Smoked Malt
0.5% - 2 oz. Crisp Black Malt (See Notes Below)
0.5% - 2 oz. Simpsons Peated Malt


28 grams Northern Brewer (9.4% AA, Pellets) @ 95 mins
28 grams Northern Brewer (9.4% AA, Pellets) @ 50 mins
35 grams Styrian Goldings (5.2% AA, Pellets) @ 45 mins


Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale

Water Profile and Additions

Charcoal filtered Seattle water
Mash Additions:  0.5g/g Gypsom, 0.5g/g Baking Soda
Sparge Additions: Adjusted pH down to 5.6 using phosphoric acid
Boil Additions: 4.5 grams Calcium Chloride, 2.1 grams Epsom Salt, 1.2 grams NaCl

Mash Schedule

60 minutes @ 157°
20 minutes @ 168°
Sparge with 170° water


Brewed solo on 10/22/11

10/16/11 – Made yeast starter with 2 liters 1.035 starter wort and 2 smack packs.  Placed on stirplate for 36 hours and then crashed in the fridge.  After 12 hours, decanted spent wort.  On brew day, I added another liter of fridge-temp wort to the yeast and placed flask on stirplate @ 60°.

10/22/11 – Doughed into 8.5 gallons at 165° and came to a rest at 156°.  Temp at 157° after 3 minutes.  Added mash minerals and took a pH reading which came out to be 5.31.  Also added phosphoric acid to sparge tank until pH reached 5.6.

After 60 minutes, I adjusted the temp regulator to bring the mash up to 168° and at the same time, I added in the chocolate and black patent malts.  Color was nowhere near dark enough, so I tasted the wort and added in another 3 oz. chocolate and 3 oz. black patent. 

At sparge, first runnings were 1.075.  Collected 8 gallons with a total of 594 gravity units.  Final runnings ended at 1.064.

Started boil and after 20 minutes, pH was at 5.13.  After 60 minutes of boiling time, sugar and mineral additions were added.  Boiled down to 5 gallons adding hops at the appropriate times.  With about 45 minutes left to go, I topped off to about 6.75 gallons.  Yeast nutrient, whirlflock, and immersion chiller were all added in the last 15 minutes.

Chilled down to 65°, rested for one hour, and then racked into carboy.  Carboy was placed in the fermentation chamber @ 60° and after 2 hours, temp had dropped to 62°.  At this point, I aerated with pure 02 for 60 seconds and then pitched entire yeast starter.

10/25/11 – Raised temp to 62°
10/27/11 – Raised temp to 65°
10/29/11 – Raised temp to 68°

11/5/11 (expected) – Assuming that the beer has completed fermentation by this date, I plan on splitting the beer into two kegs.  Into keg one will go a half ounce of oak (11 American Heavy Toast cubes, 3 French Med+ cubes, and 2 charred American Heavy Toast cubes) and the 4 oz of Makers Mark that they’ve been soaking in.   In the other keg, I’ll add the same variety of oak and the 4 oz. of Clear Creek Distillery’s 8 yr Eau de Vie de Pomme that they’ve been soaking in for the last three weeks.  This will all go down into my basement (~60°) and rest for six months.  I’ll taste along the way and add more oak/spirits if needed.


  1. Any idea where one could find a clone recipe for Doggie Claws?

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