Beer: Big Hoppy Monster
Brewery: Terrapin Beer Company
Style: Imperial Red Ale
Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Sight: Opaque, muddy brown body with a tiny, frothy head.
Smell: This is one of those beers that you can smell across a room. Despite its label, this Red Ale smells alarmingly akin to a Belgian Dubbel Ale, with its sugary, syrupy aroma with dried and rotting fruits of the raisin, prune, and fig variety. There is also a hint of port and caramelized caramel. So, what I’m saying is that this beer smells sweet.
Flavor: Well, this isn’t any Red Ale I recognize. Instead, it tastes like some sort of Porter-Belgian hybrid. The prominent flavors are bakers chocolate, burnt coffee, caramel, and figs. There is a bite from the high ABV and a subdued hop flavor–shocking, given it’s name (Big Hoppy Monster).
Feel: Medium, oily body with moderate carbonation.
Concluding Remark: This 2 variations (Red and Amber) on 1 style (Amber) in 2 months (January & February) deal should end with an alcoholic bang. Terrapin’s Big Hoppy Monster, an oak-aged Imperial Red Ale, certainly fits that bill at 9.1% ABV. However, a Red Ale–a balanced ale that leans slightly in the hops direction–this is not. Perhaps Terrapin mislabeled this bottle? Instead of a bright, well-hopped ale, Big HOPPY Monster instead tastes like a highly alcoholic glass of dirt. The bakers chocolate paired with burnt coffee and whatever hops Terrapin used translates to the flavor of earth. Not EARTHY flavor, but literally, the taste of soil. It must be noted, though, that the OAK-AGED Big Hoppy Monster is different than the regular Big Hoppy Monster. An ale that is oak-aged will be sweeter and syrupy-er than it would be no-oak. I’d like to think that the Big Hoppy Monster actually tastes like a Red Ale.
At 9.1%, this beer has the highest ABV of the month. For that, I will forgive Terrapin for not serving a classical Red Ale. There is no such thing as a 9.1% classical Red Ale. While I’m missing the ‘Hoppy’ in Big Hoppy Monster, Terrapin delivers on the ‘Big’ and ‘Monster’ in Big Hoppy Monster. Despite the high ABV, it’s highly drinkable. However, if you do find yourself with a bottle of this in hand, please remember that it is not characteristic of a Red Ale.
Stay tuned…we will be reviewing the BEST AMBER ALE AND BEER OF ALL TIME this weekend and announcing next month’s style on Monday!