Friday, June 1, 2007

The Session #4: Local Brew

I'm a newbie to this beer blogging thing but I saw The Session post over at Lew Bryson's blog and became intrigued with the concept. I was wholly unprepared for this but did have a couple local beers in the fridge that met the criteria so I figured I'd pick up the flag for the Atlanta area.

Terrapin Rye Pale Ale

Terrapin is based out of Athens, GA (even though all their bottles are contract brewed in Maryland) and since the ABV cap on beer was popped nearly three years ago have built a reputation on their seasonal "Monster Beer Tour" extreme beers. However, their flagship beer manages to be pretty innovative, if not extreme. Rye Pale Ale is made with (duh) rye, in addition to other specialty malts but at about 5% ABV makes a decent session beer as well.

The beer pours a slightly hazy copper with a billowy ivory head. The sweet, citrusy hops are evident immediately in the nose but the real payoff for this beer is when it hits your lips and the lightly grainy malt flavor melds with the orange rind flavored hops. The mouth is real creamy. Above all, this is just a really enjoyable and tasty brew. I was happy that one of my local favorites was in the fridge. I must be doing my job, supporting my local brewery and all that.

Sweetwater Road Trip

If you were to rank the best breweries in Georgia, Terrapin and Sweetwater would be ranked 1 and 1A and you couldn't go wrong with either in the top spot. (Some would argue that only Sweetwater is a true GA brewer since Terrapin contract brews elsewhere but I don't subscribe to that argument.) While Terrapin only offers two year-round offerings (their Golden Ale and the aforementioned Rye Pale Ale), Sweetwater offers five and has very recently put an emphasis of their seasonals by thinking outside the box (well, for them anyway). They bottled their Happy Ending imperial stout this winter and this spring have released Road Trip, a beer they bill as a double pilsner recipe in which they subbed ale yeast for the lager yeast.

Road Trip pours crystal clear with a bright golden hue. The head is snow-white and dense and the aroma is dominated by noble hops. The hops (Saaz?) dominate the tongue as you sip this beer but do not completely overwhelm the malt. The mouth is not crisp like a pilsner but softer and creamier (I'm guessing from the ale yeast...). To call this a double pilsner is incorrect; it's what may be the world's first Imperial Cream Ale! (The extreme beer movement's next logical step...) I have a soft spot for a good cream ale so this beer is right up my alley.

Well, I've enjoyed my first post for The Session and think this is a great idea. Support your local brewery!


snekse said...

The Session #4: Local Brews Round-Up is now posted!

Local Brews: A Field Guide

DempseysArmy said...

Thanks for the heads up snekse! The link is here:

Anonymous said...

I realize this is an old post but you can't forget about Atlanta Brewing company and their RedBrick brand beers.
I would say that they are in the lead over Terrapin. Who, by the way they just opened thier Georgia Brewery last week.

DempseysArmy said...

Atlanta Brewing makes some fine beers but they do not measure up to the portfolios of Sweetwater and Terrapin in my opinion. I am fine with those two being 1 and 1A with Atlanta Brewing in the second tier.

Some people chose to hold the fact that Terrapin contract brewed out of state against them. I was not one of them. They made quality brews and were using a business model that worked for them. They are and were a Georgia brewery.

Anonymous said...

You are right, Terrapin brews some fine beers; I personally enjoy them very much. And like you I don't hold it against them for contract brewing. I realize now you weren't so much talking about size/capacity/sales but rather quality.

DempseysArmy said...

Absolutely, quality over size. That's no slam on Atlanta Brewing. I like some of their beers a lot, especially their winter seasonal. Their Blonde Ale is underated IMO. Kind of Kolsch-like in style.