Beer Beer Beer

Beer of the Week: Terrapin Hopsecutioner

Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie

will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it:

How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find

it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer

you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

Death by hops. The notion sounds intriguing, actually -- to pass in a cloud of honey- and pine-scented greenery. And with some of the IPAs and imperial IPAs out there now, if it were possible to die of hop overload, they would do it. These beers are so bitter, so aromatic and hop-licious, that they leave your mouth changed afterward. Hopheads seek these ultra-bitter beers like hop-seeking missiles.

Some of the brews I taste, though, are just too hoppy -- there's no

sweet balance behind the bitter aromas. All they leave you with is a

bad case of cotton mouth. But not Terrapin's Hopsecutioner. Although

the name indicates it will slam you upside the head with a bag of hops

and never let up, there's actually a sturdy beer behind the green stuff

to back it all up.

Terrapin, out of Athens, Georgia, brews only five full-time beers, and

Hopsecutioner is one of them. It's made with a blend of six

hops, which gives it a distinct taste from other IPAs and imperial

IPAs. In fact, the aroma of a freshly cracked bottle of Hopsecutioner is so original, I had a hard time placing one distinct smell or flavor.

The brew pours with a sturdy body and a thick, white head. After a few

sips, I started pinpointing the flavors: It reminds me of more than a

few brews I had in Georgia in that the sweet, malty backbone really

stands out. It's almost as if the sweet Georgia water has a big effect

on the flavor.

It's that backbone, though, that makes Hopsecutioner go from good IPA

to great. The balance is spot on, with honeyed, floral, spicy hops

balanced by a bread-heavy, orange-colored malt. At 7.2 percent alcohol, it's

an IPA for sipping, but the careful balance will fool you into drinking

it faster. When it's done, it leaves a pleasant alcohol warmth and a

spicy finish. If there's any way to go, that's got to be it.

Find Terrapin Hopsecutioner at Total Wine.

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John Linn