Back in October of 2010, Athens, Georgia's Terrapin Brewing Company announced a new beer for their year-round line up: Hopsecutioner India Pale Ale. Terrapin, of course, started out as a contract brewer, paying other companies to brew their recipes while they collected funds to establish their own brewery. A few years ago, they did just that in the college town of Athens, and I must confess I've felt that their beers have improved since that time. Not that they were shabby before the brewery was established, mind you.
Terrapin had always made hoppy enough beers, a few of which border on the India Pale Ale (IPA) spectrum. But it has always surprised me that they really don't offer anything that they classify as an IPA. That said, they're Rye Squared IPA is a lot like a big IPA with some rye malt thrown in, and their Big Hoppy Monster (which they call an Imperial Re Ale) smacks of IPA, too.
At any rate, there was great excitement amongst the Georgia beer geek contingent at Terrapin's announcement. And I'll admit that I found the name exceedingly cool, and Richard Biffle's amazing label art downright inspiring.
Terrapin calls Hopsecutioner a "West Coast style IPA". It has an original gravity of 16.3 Plato, 78 IBUs of bitterness, and an alcohol content of 7.2% by volume. The beer is made with Victory, Pale Crystal, Munich, and 2-Row pale malts. It's hopped with a veritable soup of Centennials, Simcoes, Amarillos, Chinooks, and Warriors. Dry hopping with Cascades adds aroma.
Hopsecutioner debuted on draft and as part of Terrapin's 12-Pack sampler, but it was rolled out in six-packs in December of 2010 (or at least that's when first saw it). I paid $8.99 for the six-pack, which seems about the norm for microbrews these days.
Terrapin Hopsecutioner India Pale Ale pours to a brilliant bronze color with a medium sized foamy head and a bright citric and pine hoppy nose. As soon as you sip, you know right away that this is really a glass of hop juice. Sure, there's a bit of slightly toasty, slightly chewy caramel malt underneath. But the malt here is not as big as it should be for an IPA, or at least it seems so. Indeed, the malt's sole purpose seems to be to provide the hops a stage to perform upon.
And it does allows the hops to be more pronounced. They emerge immediately, delightfully herbal and floral in all their aromatic glory. They're very resiny at first, I think, with a big piney character, then they become bright and citrusy with big grapefruit suggestions in the finish. That finish, as one might expect, is long and dry, depositing a lingering bitterness that intensifies with a powerful crescendo.
Terrapin IPA is dangerously drinkable, so caution is advised considering its elevated alcohol content. I really enjoy it, and think it pairs very nicely with spicy fare. A glass of The Hopsecutioner with a brimming plate of spicy wings seems a natural, perhaps while watching your favorite team Hopsecute (errr, execute) a victory over their opponent.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.