Hair of the Dog brewery, taproom to close as legendary founder Alan Sprints is retiring – OregonLive

Hair of the Dog Brewery, a craft beer pioneer that introduced big, bold, beers and barrel-aging before Portland beer drinkers even knew they wanted them, will close along with its industrial eastside taproom, founder Alan Sprints announced Monday.

In a video released on Hair of the Dog’s Facebook group page, Sprints said he is retiring after opening the brewery in 1993.

Sprints said he has a “few more beers” to release and a significant inventory of beer to sell, so he will keep the taproom open until summer, though he didn’t disclose a closing date.

“Beer has been very very good to me,” he said in the video. “I feel so fortunate to have been able to spend over half my life doing something I love so much.”

Sprints said even though he’s shutting down his brewhouse, he still plans to do collaborations with other breweries.

He thanked numerous people, including those who were “so generous with their time and helped me along my way” and the retailers who stocked their shelves with Hair of the Dog beers and helped educate the public about them.

“Also thanks to the beer lover who believed in what I was doing enough to actually buy my beer and come visit me at the brewery.”

He also thanked his family, saying that “without their love and support and hard work, there would be no brewery today.”

In an interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive in 2019, Sprints talked about starting the brewery and its ensuing legacy. He said as a teenager he didn’t enjoy guzzling beer after beer like his buddies.

“I never liked that full feeling of too much beer,” Sprints said. “So when I started drinking beer, I gravitated toward stronger beer, beers you could have one or two of but get the same feeling as if you have six. So when I thought about opening a brewery, I thought if I made those … that I’d have a place.”

He was right. Hair of the Dog would become known and respected internationally for its higher-alcohol, deep, rich beers.

The brewery opened in Southeast Portland near the Brooklyn rail yards and operated there for nearly two decades. He built a reputation not only among Portland’s beer cognoscenti but around the world as well – one of Hair of the Dog’s bottles once sold for $2,000. Then in 2010 Sprints moved Hair of the Dog to inner Southeast’s industrial warehouse district, opening the taproom and a new brewhouse in an old warehouse and ice factory.

He credited Portland as being the right place to succeed with the distinctive beers he was making.

“It could have been almost impossible somewhere else, but the people here in Portland are not only very educated about beer but they also care about where things come from,” he says. “They want to know the producer, so that’s really helped us a lot.”

Sprints brought the idea of barrel-aging back to Portland because it’s the way his beer styles were originally brewed centuries ago, and he says it was a natural fit. He also became known for his whimsical naming conventions — beers called Fred, Adam, Bob or Lila, for example.

“Beers are all individuals, they’re all unique, just like you and I,” Sprints says. “Most brewers at the time had the same names for all their beers — they were all porters and stouts and pale ale … but they didn’t have an identity. So, I thought, giving the beers names would not only remember people that I wanted to honor but also give the beers their own identity.”

Portland beer historian and author Pete Dunlop, who wrote “Portland Beer: Crafting the Road to Beervana,” said Sprints and Hair of the Dog’s bold Old World beer styles carved the path for those who would follow, because it was “just so different than what the average brewer was doing.”

“People said he was crazy, people thought, ‘Barrel-aged beer? That’s for the Middle Ages,’” Dunlop told The Oregonian/OregonLive. “But the beers turned out incredible, and people were blown away by it.

Sprints signed off from his video with an invite for the public to visit the taproom before it closes.

“Please plan on coming down in the next few months,” he said, “and help us celebrate the diverse world of beer that exists today.”

Hair of the Dog brewery/taproom

  • Address: 61 S.E. Yamhill St.
  • Hours: 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Sunday
  • Phone: 503-232-6585
  • Website:

— Andre Meunier;; sign up for my weekly newsletter Oregon Brews and News, and follow me on Instagram, where I’m @oregonianbeerguy

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