It was a good day when I strolled into my bottle shop to find the Terrapin Rye Squared, a beer I haven’t seen in this market before. I love the Terrapin Rye Pale Ale and an Imperial version sounds perfectly awesome right about now. I grabbed a 4-pack and hustled home to get it chilled down and ready to drink. The pour was a deep, brownish-orange with a little haze and an off-white 2 finger head – very nice-looking beer. On the nose there was an abundance of orange and deep citrus, a sweet malty breadiness and spicy rye (go figure). From the first sip I was greeted with that spicy pop from the rye and hops, with a punchy, floral citrus burst. The flavor quickly turned toward the malt, however, and the mouthfeel was rich and smooth, with flavors of spiced bread and caramel and a slightly oily quality which made it easy to drink. It’s a big beer, no doubt, but very easy to drink and well balanced all the way through. I really like the complexity of the hops, from the spicy and earthy qualities of the Fuggles and Goldings to the more American-style cirtus, courtesy of the Amarillo and Cascade. That, on top of the unique character of the rye, makes the front end of this beer really interesting and refreshing, while the weight and density of the malt provides the drinkability that isn’t always present in the huge-hop beers out there. I’m really impressed with this beer and will definitely pick up more next time I see it on the shelf.
– score 4.5
You need to have a seat for this one. This is not a tailgate beer or something you drink just to wash down some buffalo wings. It’s large (10% abv) so moderation needs to at least be considered. As with most Imperial style beers, it’s a sipper to say the least. I’d classify the pour as kind of a creeper. The head seems to appear out of nowhere and will suprise you a little. Mine had a pretty heavy amount of residual settling in the bottom of the bottle, so be careful with yours, unless you’re partial to your pints looking like a snowglobe. The aroma is a little misleading, as it’s not the hop explosion that you would expect, but rather, a heavy and bready feel is the most noticeable characteristic. The more subtle overtones, however, of fruit, brown sugar, maybe something pineappleish in there somewhere are nice and hint at the complexity to come. The flavor is heading in a barleywine direction, with a heavy fruit and dense malt texture. The bitterness of the double hopping and the high alcohol content makes the back end nice and sharp, with a nice lingering, bitter finish. Probably the most intense and complex beer I’ve had from Flying Dog, and I like it a lot. I’ll probably only opt for one at any given sitting though. Cheers ~G
score – 4.25
When I first heard of the Harvest Ale, I made it my mission to find one here in Nashville – a town not noted for being all that friendly to hard-to-find beers. Well, thanks to my buddy Jim, I found one. By one, I mean one beer. Hey, at least it’s a big-ass bottle. So, I picked a night, poured a glass, and waited with anticipation as the head rose nicely in my pint. I was really interested in how the fresh hops would affect the nose, so I took a big sniff of the 3 finger head and found, honestly, not a whole lot. The explosion of fresh Cascade that I expected was kind of neatly tucked away in there somewhere. I could live with it, though, so I moved on to actually drinking a sip or two. What I tasted reminded me of a slightly skewed version of the Anniversary Ale, with an earthy quality to it. One noticeable change from the other Sierra beers was that the Harvest has a much more pronounced bitterness, which makes sense, and I did enjoy that aspect of the beer quite a bit. The body is medium, color is a really nice copper and super clear – that part is actually pretty impressive. Overall, I’d give it a “really?” It’s good, not groundbreaking. I’d certainly have one again, but I’m not going to go too far out of my way to find it. Cheers ~G
If you’re a fan of Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, you’ll really dig the Anniversary Ale. It’s a beautiful beer, with it’s copper coloring and long-lasting, rocky head – which sustains with nice lacing throughout the life of the pint. The taste is essentially a more refined version of the Pale, with a little more Cascade presence on the nose and body, and a slightly more malty mouthfeel. It’s good. Real good, actually. I’ve seen some other reviews which make this beer seem kind of average, but for me, this beer’s best quality is it’s accessibility. A beer doesn’t have to do something revolutionary or radical to be good, and I’m actually impressed more with balance and drinkability than with a quirky recipe. </vent> Anyway, pick some up if you can find it and I think you’ll find that this offering may not push the boundaries of beer making, but it’s damn good with a burger. Cheers~G
score – 3.25