I started off with the sessions beers from Terrapin, now to get into what I feel really defines a brewery.
With the shear vaolume of craft beer available today, it’s rare to find a beer that you might call unique. Well the first one here definitely falls into that category. This is the India Style Brown. The terms involved are very familiar to any beer drinker. We all know what a Brown ale is, and India leads one to think of bigger hops and alcohol content, but I haven’t seen the two brought together like this before. The pour is what you might expect from a Brown ale, deep brown with a whispy white head sitting on top. Out of this head comes a big aroma of bitter hops, just like an IPA. The first sip is a rush of sweetness and hops, but tempered by a smoky kiss of roasted malts. Very drinkable, the hops and a little bit of the roasted malt linger on your palatte.
This beer did it for me on many levels. First, it piqued my interest as something new that I would never have considered in the first place. Second, after allowing me to conjure images of what an India Style Brown might be, it followed through with an exceptional beer. Third, and possibly the best way for a beer to do it for you, is I wanted another, many others. Great job Terrapin.
Guess what, I still have more beers to drink. Next I moved to the Big Hoppy Monster. With a name like that, what’s not to love? This one is an Imperial Red Ale, a style that always confused me a little, since a red ale is rather mild all around. Another note, the label on this mentions the Summer Tour 2006, that’s quite some time ago. I asked my contact at the brewery if this was intentional and he said it was just a lucky coincidence that I got a 2 year old cellared beer. With the high alcohol content and a name like Big Hoppy Monster, I figured a little age wouldn’t hurt.
My impressions of this out of the bottle is that it is very similar to a barleywine. The aroma is of brown sugar and raisins, not a lot of hops surprisingly. This carried through to the taste. Very sweet and rich, but not much hops to balance it out. The first half of the beer was very good, but as I finished it, the sweetness became a little too much. I’m guessing that with the aging, the hops fell away and the brew lost the balance. I would be interested in trying this one fresh as I guess it will be a much different beer.
To finish my day I grabbed the Rye Squared, an Imperial Pale Ale based on their Rye Pale ale recipe. This pours a nice golden color, like honey. Very sweet in the nose with a touch of rye as well as a faint bit of hops. First thing that hits your tongue is a rush of sweetness, like an Imperial IPA. Unfortunately, this one isn’t hopped to match the sweetness. The malt and rye over power the beer and it proves a little tough to finish.
My guess on this one is in the formulation of the recipe. The bottle says this is a doubled up version of their Rye Pale Ale, but there needs to be more hops to go with the shear amount of sweetness. The sequence of pale ales for me would go Pale ale, IPA, then Imperial IPA. Without increasing the hops significantly in an IPA before doubling the recipe to go “imperial” leaves out a big portion of the recipe. Either way, I commend the brewers for trying something new as it is very easy to play it safe. Without that sense of adventure in their brewing, they wouldn’t have concocted the India Brown Ale that I loved so much.
So this is all of the Terrapin beers I received. As you can see, I have one that is left, the Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Stout. I plan on letting this one age a little before cracking it open. I’m pretty excited about the concept, so I’ll be sure to share my thoughts with all of you. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m fairly impressed with Terrapin’s lineup, so if you get a chance, make sure to try them for yourselves.