Beer Review 0165: Terrapin Hop Karma Brown IPA

A Brown IPA? Yeah, that’s a new one on me, too — but Athens, Georgia’s Terrapin Beer Co. are calling this beer a Brown India Pale Ale.

Why not just a hoppy Brown Ale? We don’t know. You might remember a few weeks ago a review of a collaboration between The Alchemist / Ninkasi / Stone called “More Brown Than Black IPA”; this beer was a hoppy Brown Ale and scored 93 points, outstanding on my scale.

Hop Karma is marked as a seasonal offering from Terrapin, and is brewed with seven different malts (Pale, Dark Munich, Victory, Special Roast, Crystal 60, Crystal 77, and Chocolate) and 5 hops (Nugget, Chinook, Centennial, Willamette, Columbus). Coming in at 6% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 65 IBUs (International Bitterness Units), this is sure to be an interesting drink that you don’t see much of around…

Release into glass produced an average size, soapy head that hung around for a while. The beer was a beautiful brown/amber color, and when held to the light, turned a bright and deep red. The body was hazy with no particles or sediment present, and the lacing was a super example of a wonderfully crafted beer, with a nice sheet coating the glass as I partook.

The aromatics featured a very interesting combination of scents — the hops were up front, and you’d never judge them to be tropical just by the visual of the beer, but they were. When combined with the malts, which provide caramel, soft chocolate, some toffee and a touch of biscuit, the whole thing becomes this lovely cotton-candy like scent, sweet but with a hop bite. Not only is it very nice, but I can’t think of another beer that even remotely smells like this. Two thumbs up!

On the palate, at first taste this one is equal parts hop/malt, with a bitter and dry grapefruit matching a chocolate brownie note for note. It might sound weird, but these flavors work together, along with tropical fruits lingering in the background, leading to a finish that somewhat disappoints with a watery bit of malt — caramel, chocolate, and more of that grapefruit, which dried the mouth out but never got abnormally bitter.

I found myself intrigued by this beer, and it is surely highly drinkable. In fact, I would call this beer a “grower,” meaning you might have to take a few sips just to get a good understanding of what Terrapin were aiming for with this one. That being said, while I think it is a good beer worthy of your time, I think they could work on this one more and drastically improve it…and maybe they will. Please?!

Terrapin Hop Karma Brown IPA, 88 points. Price: $1.99 for one twelve ounce bottle.

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