Terrapin Side Project 2: RoggenRauchbier

Review Date 7/17/2008 By John Staradumsky


The powers that be at Athens, Georgiaís Terrapin Brewery are no dummies. With a new brewhouse to pay for, they need to sell beer. And knowing the fickle nature of craft beer enthusiasts, they seem to have hit on a great idea. Instead of rolling out a larger and larger array of beers to sell on a regular basis, the company offers a basic repertoire of staples complemented by its ďSide ProjectĒ line of one-off specialty brews.

The first of these, of course, was Hop Shortage Ale , a beer which, contrary to its name, was made with mucho hops. And the second, which just happens to be the beer under consideration this evening, is Roggenrauchbier. As I said before, Terrapin has a method to their madness. By releasing their Side Project line in limited quantities and on a one-off basis, the brewery can increase demand and thereby turn the tables on beer geeks, myself included, who have a tendency to be notoriously brand disloyal. Itís in our nature, after all.

Still, I think Terrapin overdoes it a bit by charging $6.50 a pop for bomber bottles of this stuff. But they know weíll pay it, and so far, we have been doing just that. And when I have the chance to try any Rauchbier (smoked beer), especially one made with Roggen (rye), you know Iíll jump at the chance.

When I popped the cap off of my bottle of Terrapin Side Project Volume II: Roggenrauchbier Lager I immediately got a pleasant surprise as a whiff of smoky aroma wafted from the mouth of the bottle to my nose. A smoked rye beer is a German style, so to complete the effect I dug out a tall, cylindrical one-third liter dimpled mug to decant into. When I did, I got another pleasant surprise: a very appetizing looking burnt-caramel colored liquid with a light creamy head formation atop.

A sip revealed a bit of chocolate and caramel underneath with some of the nutty flavor that Munich malt imparts, too. The rye can be discerned, too: itís spicy and grainy and definitely adds its own unique flavor. Underneath it all, of course, is the smoke, which permeates the brew and adds a distinctive hickory and green olive aroma and flavor. The smoke, along with a bit of hop bitterness, dries the finish out nicely. The smoke character is also much like that in Schlenkerla Rauchbier, the standard from Germany.

Terrapinís Roggenrauchbier is somewhat less assertive than the latter, however, and thatís my one complaint. To be sure, this is a delightful little beer, but I was hoping for a bit more smokiness and especially body, which is a bit thinner than I would like. Especially for $6.50 a bomber bottle, which is a bit overpriced in my opinion. Still, being a side project, Terrapin Roggenrauchbier will be gone when itís gone, so if you see it, itís worth picking up a bottle just to try it.

Glad I tried it?  T

Would I rebuy it??


*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.

(B)=Bottled, Canned