When Alan Sprints announced earlier this year that he would be closing Hair of the Dog, the venerable Portland, Oregon brewery he founded in 1993, there was sadness combined with an urge to stock up on his potent ales.
After nearly 30 years, including the last 13 in the brewery’s final location, Sprints was ready for retirement. He produced roughly 4,000 batches on the 4-barrel brewhouse, and introduced the world to strong ales like Adam and Fred, and barleywines like Don. Now in retirement he’s not giving up on beer as he plans to collaborate with other breweries but will have more time with family and to travel.
Turns out the building in East Portland might not be ready to give up on beer either. Sprints bought the building when he moved Hair of the Dog to the spot in 2008, and it has worked just fine as a brewery and restaurant all these years.
In the weeks leading up to its closing, regulars from the neighborhood, which he says is still fairly industrial, but close to residential, would stop in and expressed how much the place meant to them, and how much they enjoyed having a taproom in the area.
So, while Hair of the Dog, which officially closed on the last weekend in June 2022, might be done, there is a chance for a new brand to move in, with Sprints as a landlord.
“It was such an emotional weekend and really humbling to hear how much people loved the place and staff, and it just coalesced in my mind that I’d love for them to have another place. “
Sprints is putting out the call to existing breweries that might be interested in opening a Portland outpost. He says he’s glad to have conversations with anyone interested but sees an opportunity for a brewery that already exists outside of the area that would benefit from a presence in the city.
“For a company that might have distribution in Oregon, but not a physical presence this could give continuity to a brand,” he says. The brewing equipment could also be part of a deal, Sprints, says, but admits that his 4-barrel brewhouse with 20-barrel fermenters might not be the best fit for another brewery.
“It’s fair to call it a historic brewhouse, I’ve been using it for 30 years and it always worked for me,” he said. “This space works really well as a taproom and kitchen and restaurant so I think it could make for a good brewery outpost for someone.”
The location is also part of an unofficial brewery crawl with others, including Wayfinder Beer, Ecliptic’s Moon Room, and Cascade Barrel House.
Sprints can be contacted via email which is listed on the brewery’s website.
Should a new brewery move into the old Hair of the Dog space, that will not spell the end of the venerable brewery. In the months leading up to the closure Sprints said he received calls from retail accounts across the pacific northwest that stocked up on bottles and kegs that they will continue to roll out over the coming years.
“That’s a real benefit to making strong beers,” he says.
And while Sprints waits to see who might move into his existing space, he said the brewery plans to open the doors again this weekend during the Oregon Brewer’s Festival to sell bottles and pours to fans that might have missed out last month.
Further out, he has been taking inventory of barrels that were in the brewery, some of which have been holding beer for more than a decade and will be tasting through them and deciding where they might wind up for future brewery collaborations.
“Even if we won’t be here there are plenty of fun things in store for Hair of the Dog,” he said.