Terrapin Imperial “Pumpkin Pie” Porter (2014)

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Terrapin Imperial “Pumpkin Pie” Porter is 9.2% ABV.

I poured some of a 22 oz bottle into a porter glass.

Appearance: An easy and hard-at-the-end pour tossed up a half-finger of light brown head, which dissipated over a few minutes to leave a thin ring and the thinnest remnant of foam atop the beer. This has a very dark brown/black color, letting no light through. Bubbles rising at the surface suggest mild to moderate carbonation.

Smell: I get nice vegetal squash, quickly followed by a warm and notable spice blend. For spices I think I get heavy nutmeg and some cinnamon. The malt has great roasty elements, and even some slight smoke to it. This also smells pretty sweet, with some dark fruit like plum. I also get some dark sugar and molasses. Great aroma. Looking forward to tasting it.

Taste: As I first taste more roasty and somewhat smokey pumpkin. This is not as sweet as I was expecting, at least up front. There is definite strong roastiness and some smokiness. The spices aren’t so clear coming through on the palate. As for malt, I get nice roast, and a bit of dark coffee-like bitterness. There is some pumpkin around the edges, with some dark fruit towards the finish. Very little by way of hops.  As in the smell, I get dark sugar and molasses. This finishes with the dark roast and the coffee-like bitterness fading into an aftertaste of smoke and mild undescript spice. Very mild notice of alcohol. Good flavors, heavy on the roast and smoke. The pumpkin isn’t so strong, like many of the pumpkin porter/stout offerings.

Feel: This is medium to heavy bodied, with moderate carbonation. The feel is pretty good, no heavy lingering sugar, and a good amount of roast to add some complexity to the otherwise smooth and forthright malt. The roast and mild smoke in the aftertaste is mostly pleasant, and not a major detractor for me. So, pretty good feel.

Drinkability: For something of 9+%, this does pretty darn well. You don’t get much of an alcohol bite, and you also don’t get overwhelmed with sugar. So this has a good balance there, and drinks pretty well. It is a rich beer, with strong roasty flavors, and so isn’t a paradigm drinkable beer. Even so, for its style, it does pretty well here.

Overall: I like the roast and the slight smoke in this. I also enjoy the balance of sweetness, and the mostly hidden alcohol. I would not describe this as pumpkin pie, for a few reasons. It doesn’t have strong pumpkin, nor does it have a kind of sweetness that you get with pie. This is more of a roasty and slightly smokey strong porter, with some hints of pumpkin. The more I drink it, the less pumpkin I get too. As a pumpkin porter, OK. As a bigger porter, I like it. This was pretty hard to get, and went real fast. The wax also gives it a kind of prestige, which likely contributed to that. I don’t think it lives up to all that.

Overall Rating: **3/4

photo 4About Terrapin and Imperial Pumpkin Pie Porter: Terrapin is out of Athens Georgia, having started there in 2002. Yesterday I reviewed their “Pumpkinfest”.

This Imperial Pumpkin Pie Porter was something of a limited offering. I think I might have actually come across the last bottle in the state of Virginia. This is also the first year Terrapin has made it. It joined their reserve series of small batch, wax-dipped 22’s, following in the footsteps of “White Chocolate Moo Hoo” and “Cinnamon Roll’d Wake-n-Bake”. This malt bill of this beer has 2-Row Pale, Wheat & Chocolate Wheat, Crystal 85 & 120, Black Malt, and Chocolate Malt. It has added pumpkin and a spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves. Columbus and U.S. Golding Hops take this to 35 IBU’s.


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