The Best Of Both Worlds

Thursday, September 17, 2009

One of my very best friends recently took a well-deserved vacation with his lovely wife, and returned with beers for me to sample!

See, folks, this is the way to assure my undying loyalty. Greg figured it out.

At any rate, among the beers he handed me for review are a couple of samples from Terrapin Beer in Athens, Georgia. I have often heard very good things about this brewery, so I was secretly thrilled to pieces that some of my upcoming beer samples will be from this brewery. I had to play it cool, though, and not act all giddy-kid-at-Christmas about it.

Enough about me. On to the beer!
Terrapin India Brown Ale bottle describes this beer as a "head-on collision between a hoppy west coast IPA and a malty, complex brown ale." Thats what I cal a specialty beer. Hoppy west coast IPA? Some of my favorite beers. Malty brown ale? My favorite kind of "session beer." But an IPA and a brown ale at the same time isn't just an Odd Couple mismatch. This is Mozart meets Nirvana.

It poured a nutty, deep brown into the glass with just a hint of a ruby hue as the light on my bar shone through it. The dense, rocky latte consistency head stayed the whole glass, clinging tightly to the sides drink after drink. Translucent due to the color, it was still a crystal-clear beer.

I don't even know where to begin with the aromas in this beer, given the confluence of two completely different beer styles, which the bottle boasts as 5 different hop varieties and 7 malts. It is a no-holds-barred duel of all of my favorite beery scents: pepper leads-off with a mano-a-mano fight with caramel malts. Chocolate grapples with grassy, earthy hops in a battle neither will win. Bright, orangey citrus gets in a shoving match with a sweet maltiness. But all of this aromatic melee is more like a well-choreographed judo match than a nasty brawl. It's all beautiful, lovely art.

The taste is like nothing I have ever had before. It would be crass to say it was like one mouthful of two beers like a cheap frat-house beer bong mixer. No, this beer is a dance between unlikely but graceful partners. The closest I can come to describing this beer is to say that hop-wise, it's a strong IPA. But instead of the bready, doughy, thick-sweet malt to back up all the hops, I get a beautiful Brit nut brown ale malt flavor of the highest caliber. If you've ever had one of those high-end chocolates mixed with some sort of exotic pepper, you have tasted one of the essences of this beer. Complex hop flavors found in my favorite west coast IPAs like citrus, pine and pepper waltz with a sweet nuttiness, chocolate, and dried prunes and apricots and leave me dizzy but oh so elated. One sip leaves me with chocolate covered oranges. Another with pepper-coated apricots. I just want more.

This medium-bodied, well-carbonated beer is a true pleasure to drink. There are so many flavors to enjoy, and Terrapin beautifully merged two beers that I love to pieces. Far from a disaster, this beer is a trend-setter. There's a little something for every beer lover here; for some, it will be unique and different. For others, it will be a true pleasure. I think it's pretty clear where this reviewer falls.


heather 5:48 AM  

Isn't that what I told you it was? OK, it wasn't exactly what I said, but I think "to die for" is pretty close! Glad you enjoyed the beer, and now I'm just more disappointed that I only brought back 6!

heather 5:49 AM  

Ooops, apparently I'm Heather this morning!

steves 7:37 AM  

I don't want to hear about your role-playing. I am disappointed that you only brought back six, too.

Bob 8:30 AM  

One of the best reviews in a long time.

This is the prose that makes up a real Smitty review.

Sopor 9:54 AM  

Hmmm that sounds yummy. I had some Terrapin Rye ale of some sort almost two years ago when I was in Florida for Thanksgiving. Yummy stuff there too!

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