Beer Review 0142: Terrapin Hopzilla Double IPA

Here we are with another huge Double IPA, this one from the Terrapin Beer Company out of Athens, Georgia. Terrapin began brewing in 2002, founded by John Cochran and Brian “Spike” Buckowski, who both met while working at another microbrewery. The two felt they had something great to offer the beer world, and here they are a decade later, still brewing and making some fantastic beers.

Hopzilla is offered as part of their “Monster Beer Tour,” which is a series of big beers that are limited releases. This is the newest offering in the series; previously this was only available in bomber bottles. This Imperial IPA comes in at 110 IBUs (International Bitterness Units), and is brewed with Bravo, Chinook, and Centennial hops, then dry-hopped with Citra. And there’s only one malt used: Maris Otter.

I’m a sucker for these Double IPAs. This style of beer either tends to have a ton of bitterness but with a sweet edge, or just a ton of bitterness. Personally, I’m a fan of the sweeter side with the bitter, and it’s interesting to see which side of the fence some of these beers decide to pitch tent on.

Pouring produced an average size, soapy, and lasting head, bright white atop a tangerine orange beer. The drink was fairly hazy, but had no particles or sediment. The lacing was sparse; while suds clung to the glass in the wake of each sip, nothing much decided to stick around, which will make cleaning this glass a breeze. (But we like to see the sticky lace!)

The aromatics were a total hop attack, featuring heavy tropical fruits, mostly of the pineapple and mango variety. Think fruit juice concentrate, with a nice bit of malty sweetness, coupled with those traditional hop scents like grapefruit, pine, and oranges. I wouldn’t call this one dank, but there is a fair bit of Christmas tree resin going on here, and it’s just lovely. A complex hop aroma — I could sniff on Hopzilla all day long and never grow bored.

Flavor wise, this beer greets the taste buds with an easy and sweet tropical fruit punch that actually seems quite light at first, until a crush of bitterness comes through in the middle of the taste and begins to rip the enamel from your teeth. Then, the bitter grapefruit begins to show, along with a nice note of pine; as the finish washes over your tongue, this beer turns sweet but still maintains a bitter edge, warming you with an alcohol burn (10.3% ABV, or alcohol by volume present) as it unravels. I found the mouthfeel to be creamy while tasting, drying after swallowing; the carbonation was a little soft, but that didn’t detract from the beer at all.

Terrapin’s top-shelf Double IPA is without question a terrific beer, and I’m rating it a classic on my point scale. The two flaws here are the flavors lacking a little bit of depth, and I felt the alcohol was a touch too high. Other than that, you need to seek out this beer and form your own opinion. If you love hops as much as I do, and you don’t mind a touch of sweetness with your Double IPA, I promise you will love Hopzilla.

Terrapin Hopzilla Double IPA, 95 points. Price: $3.49 for one twelve ounce bottle.

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