Saturday, January 30, 2010

Terrapin Hopsecutioner

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (597) - Albany, USA - JAN 30, 2010
Over the last few months I’ve been torn between my love for "hometown" East Coast-style India Pale Ales with their sticky pine palates and the tart, citrusy West Coast-style IPAs that are quite refreshing. The Terrapin Brewing Company out of Athens, Georgia has managed to combine elements of both styles with their new year-round IPA "Hopsecutioner." It’s got distinctive flavors of both styles without coming off as gimmicky. Ultimately, I think it favors the Eastern style, but if it’s a good beer what does it matter whose side it takes?


I had a feeling I was in for a good beer as soon as I poured Hopsecutioner as it has a clear body of straight orange. There is mild carbonation although the head was surprisingly small and left some (but not a lot) of lacing on the glass. The aroma was quite inviting with a distinct citrus note as well as hints of pine needles.


You know you’re no longer a novice beer drinker when you can distinguish two different flavor profiles in one sip of a beer. Up front, Hopsecutioner starts off a lot like the West Coast IPA-style it purports to be in the nose with a tart, citrusy ruby red grapefruit-like taste. As it finishes the cascade hops used in the dry-hopping process take over to make for a dry, bitter, resiny texture and aftertaste to match.

Beers of this type are intentionally bitter and Hopsecutioner definitely represents the IPA style very well. It’s quite impressive just how noticeable the changes in the palate really are. The initial citrus flavor is actually quite refreshing but the rich, piney bitterness on the finish tells you this is a beer with chutzpah. There’s even a bit of a bready malt presence, which is subtle but noticeable, and helps round out the bitterness with a touch of sweetness.

The only problem is these hops linger (which isn’t surprising considering it’s 78 IBUs), leaving a dry, malty aftertaste that makes me want to take a sip of water between each swig. I think Hopsecutioner probably would’ve worked just as well if not better at a slightly lower bitterness rating or if the citrus elements hadn’t been so overtaken by the pine.


All the stats for this beer would indicate it’s going to be a hefty brew, but the actual drinking process is surprisingly easy. Terrapin Hopsecutioner has a thick, sticky, but soft mouthfeel and goes down extremely smooth. The low carbonation probably accounts for this beer not being quite as crisp as I’d prefer in an IPA (but drinkability is always nice).

At 7.2% ABV this would seem to be in the range of a double or imperial beer, but it’s amazing how well the alcohol is hidden in the palette as well as the body. I was able to slug down one bottle quite quickly without feeling the effects at all (and believe me, I’m actually quite a lightweight when it comes to potency).


There’s a lot to like about Terrapin Hopsecutioner (especially the label - which looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book cover!). Its complexity and unique flavor profile are worthy of accolades as well as its drinker-friendly palette. It probably could be a perfect beer if just a few changes were made, but as it stand it’s very good and that’s a beer worth buying.

Grade: 8/10

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