Drinking It All is a document of my attempt to try every beer in circulation. It’s a Herculean and tragic attempt at best. But it’s the means, not the end that counts here.
Even though I know I said I was taking a break from IPAs and PAs, I’ve got a fantastic Pale Ale to write about today. A friend brought me back a few Georgia beers a few weeks ago, 2 0f the 3 I’ve already written about here and here, but he also brought me back a couple Terrapin Rye Pale Ales. I’ve had these beers before on tap in Birmingham and possibly Atlanta, and I’ve always liked them. I’ve just never picked up a 6-pack of them.
I’m going to try to start getting these reviews in under 750 words, so I’ll forgo the rest of the background/context.
The Terrapin Rya Pale Ale is a basic pale ale (e.g., Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, Anchor’s Liberty Ale) but with a nice little addition of rye grain. This rye grain might seem at first inconsequential, but it adds a good bit to the beer. And the first thing you’ll notice is the smell. The hops are super-prominent and the rye grain adds a little sharpness to the smell, I think. When your nose gets inside the glass, you can’t help but notice how this beer smells. It smells good. It smells like a pale ale should smell, and I’ve had several many pale ales that I couldn’t really provide a clear description of a smell. (Since so much of our sense of taste relies on our sense of smell, it seems important that a pale ale (i.e., a beer that kind of lives or dies by its hop profile, much of which is identified by smell) actually has a noticeable smell. Terrapin’s RPA has it covered.) The hops are up front, and the rye is a definite part of the smell. You don’t even really have to try to smell this beer when you take a drink–I’ve gotten very used to having to actively smell the beers I drink, so I like not having to in this case.
But what about taste? Well, it ain’t all nose on this beer. The beer has a very clean taste, like Sierra Nevada’s PA, that shows off the bitterness of the hops, and the sharp rye taste lends a kind of woody taste that fits well with the grassy hop flavor. The beer has enough of a malt profile to leave a sweet taste in the mouth, so the amount of hops do well to cut the sweetness.
My one, arguable, criticism is that I’d say there are more hops in the beer than are necessary for a standard PA. It seems hoppy enough to be an IPA. But then, don’t misunderstand this as a complaint–I’m just taking issue with adherence to the form. Which I could easily be completely wrong about, but, to be honest, I’d rather it be exorbitantly hoppy anyway. So it’s not like I’m unhappy with how the beer tastes.
So the beer’s a good one. If you find it on tap, it’s worth a try. Like I said, I’ve had this before on tap, and I liked it then. There’s no reason I shouldn’t like it out of a bottle. Ergo, assuming you find your own beer-liking tendencies rather comparable to mine, there’s no reason you shouldn’t like this beer on either tap or in bottles.
(Kept it well under 750 words. Look out now.)
Thumbs up or thumbs down? Way up. Try this beer before any other PA that you don’t have strong feelings about if it’s (i.e., Terrapin’s RPA) available.