Terrapin – Reunion Ale ’11

There are so many brewers out there that I have still never had the pleasure of tasting before.  Therefore, when I go to the store to pick up something, I look to figure out if there is anything from any of these breweries I really can’t live without.  One Saturday I went to the store to pick up a few special releases from Stone and managed to find this special release from Terrapin.

Looking through the Terrapin line-up, it appears they have a lot of interesting different beers I think look and sound quite good.  This one is a special collaboration with Shmaltz brewing company.  These two companies got together to create this beer they refer to as “A Beer for Hope”.  For three years now, Terrapin has put out a new version of their Reunion Ale to benefit research for Myeloma and Bone cancer research.  This is in honor of their friend and inspiration that died from the disease.

While I still seem to always manage to walk by many great looking Terrapin beers without picking them up, I actually had to pick this one up because of the description of the beer inside.  The bottle states that this is a dark ale brewed with cocoa nibs, vanilla, and chili peppers.  Now, I have had a few different types of beers that have sort of a smoky type of flavor.  I’ve really enjoyed the Rogue – Chipotle Ale which is brewed with roasted chipotle pepper, and I’ve also enjoyed a limited amount of rauchbier, which tastes like straight up barbecue to me.  However, I really wanted to try something that would most likely have a little more of the spicy kick at the end.  Hopefully, this one wouldn’t disappoint.

The pour has a very dark reddish tint to it.  It’s definitely a dark beer; however, there is clearly an auburn hue in there as well.  The actual beer is overall quite hazy.  I definitely think it has something to do with the wide array of ingredients used to create this interesting beer.  You can see there is some nice carbonation in the glass as well.  The head has a slightly brownish tint to it, although it really doesn’t develop too much on the pour.  Really there is only about a quarter-inch of head on top.  Swirling the glass brings about the same amount of head and some very light lacing.  The lacing isn’t too plentiful but does last quite a while.

The smell is a little citrusy, which I found surprising.  I feel like maybe these are brought on by the small amount of hops that are in the brew.  The other very strong scent is a deep rich vanilla smell.  I really don’t pull out a huge amount of chocolate, but it is noticeable.  I think the vanilla will definitely be more prominent on the taste than the chocolate.  Also, there is a very woody malty scent to this one as well.  I was most surprised that I didn’t pull out any spicy chili aroma in here.  The chili peppers were definitely my main reason for buying this one, so I’m hopeful it won’t be hidden in the taste as well.

Well, it is definitely not hidden in the taste.  All in all, this has one of the most interesting flavor profiles I’ve had in a while.  You can really pull out each individual ingredient.  The citrusy flavor comes on at the start; however, it is nicely blended with some deep malt flavors.  From there the real journey begins.  First there is a quick hit of chocolate.  The chocolate is immediately overwhelmed by a strong vanilla flavor.  The vanilla is definitely powerful and lasting.  When the vanilla starts to depart, the chocolate quickly returns for the finale.  That’s not where it end though.  The chili peppers must be felt.  The chili peppers hit the back of your throat first, but then you realize your entire tongue is feeling the tingle too.  It’s a very strange feel in a beer, but it actually works.

The mouthfeel is actually kind of hard to describe in some ways.  The carbonation is there, but really more as after thought.  It almost isn’t noticeable.  It’s the balance that is really hard to describe.  The hops, malts, vanilla, and chocolate all work together really well, but then you throw in the chili pepper surprise that throws your mouth for a loop.  It doesn’t create a bad aftertaste, but the spiciness definitely lingers on the tongue and throat for a very long time.  The chili peppers really throw the entire balance off.

Overall, I think I might like the concept of this beer more than the actual result.  I want to love it, but I almost find myself with a slight stomach ache after half a bottle.  This one could be helped by being a smaller bottle, but I simply think it will be a great beer for some, and an okay beer for others.  In the end, I think I have to go with okay for me.  But, check it out and let me know what you think!  I have a feeling some people with adore this brew.

Teacher Grade: C+



  1. […] edition benefit beer for the Tsunami in Japan.  While it is great to buy beer for a good cause, my second review of a benefit beer this week I might add, there is a very clear reason I was drawn to buying this beer: Green Tea.  Now I’m not […]

  2. […] theirs for this site, I haven’t particularly enjoyed any of them.  The first beer I had was a beer using chili peppers.  I thought the base was great, but the chilies ended up giving me a stomach ache.  The other […]

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