Beer Review 0172: Terrapin Side Project Volume 16 – Phlux Capacitor

Terrapin Beer Company, brewing out of Athens, Georgia, has a special series of beers they call “Side Projects,” which is basically their version of a limited release in bomber size bottles.

The Side Project beers are brews that might be a little out of the ordinary. But one Side Project has made it to more of a regular release — Terrapin’s Hopzilla, a Double IPA, started as a Side Project but now enjoys a yearly four-pack release. I rated that beer 95 points, which is classic on my rating scale.

So what have Spike and John (the brains behind Terrapin) come up with this time? Well, for once, I’ll let them put it in their own words:

Time traveling in at number 16 in our “Side Project” series of beers is “Phlux Capacitor.” This wood aged Bully is brewed to an unknown style from another dimension. Rumor has it that this beer was first invented on the planet Vulcan on Saturday, Nov. 12, 1955. The recipe was discovered here on Earth on Saturday, Nov. 12, 1985 at 10:04 P.M., scribbled on the back of a sports almanac inside an abandoned DeLorean. It is said  that the speedometer in the car was frozen at 88mph and it took 1.21 gigawatts of power to jumpstart the car Back To The Future! We hope you enjoy our interpretation of this totally fictitious ale…Aged on French Oak.

Spike’s brewing words of wisdom:

“This Beer Will Soon Become Your Density”

Pouring made for an average size head, creamy and rocky in texture, and long lasting. The color of the beer was reddish-brown when held in the light, and an almost deep burnt orange when held in the normal frame of vision. This beer had a very cloudy body, but was free of particles and sediment, and the lacing was of good quality.

The problem, at least for me, started to come with the aromatics. Ever had a beer that was an oak bomb? Well, this is it — and we’re not talking subtle oak with aromas of vanilla or a barrel sweetness — we’re talking straight up wood, like sniffing a hardwood floor. While that scent is fine, it coupled with an off-putting metallic aroma that made this beverage quite unappealing. There were hints of some normal malty aromas, like caramel and toffee, but these were just subtleties when compared to the oak and metal.

On the taste, you get all that oak up front, which is fairly bitter, but it mellows into a somewhat medicinal middle that quickly transitions to a finish where some good qualities begin to show with sweet caramel and a slight hint of chocolate. Then the oak returns, but this time, it isn’t nearly as strong and offers some sweetness. The very long finish is nice as it unfolds, not really a rich flavor, but a strong taste that lingers and lingers as you touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Pleasant. And despite being a big beer (9.8% alcohol by volume), this one isn’t a boozy mess.

Final thoughts: this beer is a mixed bag. “Oak aged American Strong Ale” sure does sound good, but this isn’t what you would expect. If anything, this beer is more like a Barleywine, and it completely eschews what most people think of when they read “oak aged.” This is truly oak in a bottle, like…wood. This is a big, serious beer, and it does punish the tongue. That doesn’t make it bad, but I can’t see many people really digging this.

Which might be why this is a “Side Project.”

Terrapin Side Project Volume 16 – Phlux Capacitor, 78 points. Price: $8.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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