Review Date 11/5/2010
Looking for the beer with the coolest new label of 2010? It just might be Terrapin Side Project 12: Hopzilla Double India Pale, the latest installment in Athens, Georgia's limited-release one-off specialty brews. Terrapin can't take credit for being the first to brew a beer called Hopzilla, however. Bert Grant of Grant's Ales fame did that almost a decade ago. Several other breweries around the United States have offered up their own versions, too.
Still, the name fits, as Terrapin's Hopzilla is one monster of a beer. Depending on whether you believe the label (110 IBUs and 10.8% alcohol by volume) or the company website (130 IBUs and 10.7% ABV, perhaps they refer to the draft product?), Hopzilla towers over most other beers. It's brewed with Maris Otter malt exclusively, as well as Chinook, Centennial, Bravo and Citra hops.
This is a limited release beer, and I had to dig through a stack of leftover Boom-Shakalager (release 11) bottles at Total Wine to get mine. It seemed reasonable enough at $7.99 for a 22-ounce bomber bottle, at least for a beer of this strength and considering 2010 prices.
Terrapin Side Project 12: Hopzilla Double India Pale Ale pours to a cloudy orange amber color with a moderate, creamy head formation. Am I looking for hops in the nose? Of course, but no need to look long, as they roar to life like a blast of radioactive fire breath from the mouth of a giant lizard. Resiny and piney as the day is long, the hoppy nose certainly indicates Hopzilla is going to be more than a "B"-movie thriller.
I take a sip, expecting Hopzilla to emerge, smashing everything in his path along the way. But wait! What's this? First on the scene is....Maltthra! He (or she?) is biscuity and caramelly, this Maris Otter Maltthra is. But alas for poor Maltthra, Hopzilla suddenly arrives, lashing away with it's piney-hoppy tail. Those incredibly resiny, slightly phenolic hops emerge suddenly and take over the show, building in intensity into the finish where they combine with a hint of citric orange, grapefruit, a trace of vanilla, and alcohol warmth. The latter is, surprisingly, not as intense as one might expect for a beer of this strength.
After you swallow, you'll remember Hopzilla for a while, as the long, dry, and truly monstrous bitterness lingers on your by-now devastated taste buds. And then, leaving naught but destruction in its wake, Hopzilla lumbers off into the sunset, back to the murky depths from which he came.
Hopzilla is not for the timid, but if you're a hophead like I am, it should not be missed. I paired a bottle nicely with gooey enchiladas packed with fiery jalapenos to very good effect. Other Side project beers have gone on to permanent status (Sun Ray Wheat Wine and Pumpkinfest), here's hoping this one will too.
As brewer Spike Bukowski so eloquently puts it (paraphrasing Blue Oyster Cult): "Oh no, they say he's got to go, Go, Go, Hopzilla!"
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.