Terrapin Brewing Co. “Side Project #20 – Dr. Krunkles”

November 5, 2013

We just got the new special release Side Project beer from Terrapin Beer Co. and I have just one question. What the heck is a “Krunkle?”

The official name of their Side Project #20 is Dr. Krunkles, the latest in a long line of similarly-named limited editions. But what is it, some obscure inside joke? The last name of the brewer who developed the recipes? The three-legged dog who hangs out behind the brewery?

According to Urban Dictionary, the origins of the word are myriad. Beginning with the root word, “krunk” means anything from a phony swear word Conan O’Brien made up in 1994 to a contraction of crazy and drunk. The most common usage derives from inhaling a certain type of, uh, herb combined with being intoxicated. I’d elaborate but this is a family publication. Moving on.

Krunkle, however, is different. It can refer to a shady, inebriated family member who procures illicit consumables for underagers – i.e. drunk uncle – or the act of striking someone in the, um… upper thigh region of a male. Again, family publication. Enough.

My best guess is that the Krunkles releases are a reference to the botanical relationship between hops and cannabis. Before anyone gets riled up about the “legalize it or not” debate, I’m presuming that Terrapin’s intent is solely a tongue-in-cheek synonym.

Now that we’ve tried to figure out the strange name, let’s get into how wacky the beer itself is. This is a three-way hybrid of style and the result is a roller coaster of sensory input. The base of the beer is Belgian-style witbier; wheat ale spiced with coriander and dried orange peel. The fermentation is caused by saison – or farmhouse – ale yeast which brings out some tropical fruit and light barnyard funkiness. Then, Terrapin loads up on the hops; El Dorado for high alpha acid bittering flavors, Centennial for resiny spice and Japanese Sorachi Ace for citrus and bubblegum notes. Finally, for added nuance there’s white peppercorn and white ash wood for aging.

Dr. Krunkles is straw yellow with a frothy head that leaves rings of lacing. What’s surprising here is how clear it is! Witbier and saison are two beers known for their cloudiness. Not this oddball! Sticking my beak into the glass I’m getting a sweet hodge-podge of scents; banana cream pie, mandarin, mango, wet pine bark and a hint of clove. Shoving aside those sweet notes is the giant jolt of bitterness on the tongue. Lemon, mint, orange peel and leafy hops lead off only to be supplanted by an almost graham cracker finish for balance.

This doctor may be a bit of a weirdo, but I certainly like his bedside manner!