Georgia Craft Brewery: Terrapin Beer Company
Established: April 9th, 2002
Location: 265 Newton Bridge Rd, Athens, GA 30607
Known For: The Hopsecutioner IPA, Hi-5 IPA, and RecreationAle (Pale Ale) are Terrapin’s number one sellers and combined account for 40% of all sales.
Current Beer Menu: During my visit, Terrapin had sixteen beers on tap. With so many beers on tap, they easily covered a large spectrum of styles including Farmhouse, Pilsner, Golden Ale, Pale Ale, IPA, Double IPA, Milk Stout, Coffee Stout, and Oatmeal Stout. Since we get distribution from Terrapin in South Florida I targeted a few beers that I haven’t had before. I started with the Tangerine Lemon Hopsecutioner which was an interesting treatment of Hopsecutioner. It was quite good with a bit more lemon than tangerine coming through. Next, a couple of cans of Terrapin’s newest offering, Watermelon Gose, were pulled out. If you have ever had Anderson Valley’s Briney Mellon this beer blows that one away. Juicy watermelon with a salty kick is the best way to describe it. Talk about delicious! If you haven’t seen this on your neighborhood shelves yet you should be seeing it soon. Krunkles Down Under was my next choice. It is an IPA that only uses Hops from the South Pacific. Motueka, Pacific Jade, Green Bullet, Topaz, Waimea, and Rakau are the hops used during the brewing process and Galaxy and Ella are used during the dry hop process. Together they produce the taste of passion fruit and guava. Finally, I targeted the three Single Origin coffee stouts that were on tap out of the four that were produced. Each version was brewed with the same base stout using a coffee sourced from a different location in the world. Hawaii, Sumatra, and Ethiopia were the three available with Guatemala being the fourth that wasn’t. I enjoyed the Kona coffee used in the Hawaiian version more than the other two.
Price Range: Brewery tours are $12.00, include a 12oz souvenir pint glass, and 36 ounces of beer. The price is subject to change based on special events being held at the brewery. The tour encompasses most of the production facility from the canning and bottling lines to the brewing equipment. The state of Georgia doesn’t allow for more than 36 ounces of beer to be poured per person. Georgia certainly isn’t doing their breweries any favors by limiting brewery patrons not only the amount of beer they can drink in-house, but also what they can take home from the brewery in cans, bottles, or growlers. Breweries are hoping that 2017 brings positive change to their present situation.
Wine Menu: Wine is not allowed to be sold in the brewery.
Food Menu: Food is not served at the brewery, but there are picnic tables on premises for food brought from home or purchased from the food truck. The food truck(s) are available Friday and Saturday night, which also seems to be a rarity based on my experiences with both Southern and Creature Comforts.
Ambiance: When you walk in the front door of the building you’re greeted by merch. Lots of merch. Terrapin doesn’t play in this regard. If it can be thought up Terrapin is selling it. After a moment of waiting in line, I was greeted by a very friendly woman who checked my ID, took payment, and directed me to the tasting room. The room is large or maybe just feels that way since there really isn’t anything taking up space on the main floor. The walls of the tasting room are a light sky blue adorned with wood paneling. The soulful sounds of Tre Powell, this time, accompanied by his band mates, filled the air with music. There was a very laid back feel to the space. After feeling this at three different Georgia breweries I’ve come to the conclusion that it must be Southern ‘thang’. Also, Terrapin is both kid and dog-friendly, which is always nice to see.
Bar Seating: The few bar stools that were available were across the room from the bar. I experienced three Georgia breweries and not one of them had seats at the bar. It’s odd and I don’t quite understand it except that maybe they want the bar area relatively clear in order to serve people easier.
Staff: Stephan, tour guide extraordinaire and Lead Brewery Ambassador, led a pretty detailed tour and was more than happy to take questions afterward. He introduced me to Matthew McKenna, who is one of Terrapin’s brewers. He was eager to talk shop with me and a few other patrons. I have him to thank for introducing me to the Watermelon Gose. I was lucky enough to meet Brian “Spike” Buckowski, Brewmaster and Co-founder, who was kind enough to take a picture with me and spent a few moments shooting the shit as well.
Merch: If you want it Terrapin probably has it. They have a large amount of items in the ‘gift shop’ including men and women’s t-shirts ranging from $10.00 to $22.00, glasses/mugs/tumblers ranging in price from $4.00 to $25.00, and if your pup is a big fan of Terrapin you can pick up a dog bowl, leash, or collar for between $6.00 and $20.00. You can check out what else Terrapin has available here. Orders of over $100.00 will get you free shipping.
Membership offered: Terrapin doesn’t currently offer any type of membership or bottle club.
Best days or time of year to go: If you are looking for the smallest crowds at Terrapin, Southern, and Creature Comforts than focus on the times of year that the kids from the University of Georgia are out of school and back home. Typically the busiest days during the week are Friday and Saturday nights. Each Wednesday a unique cask is put on tap.
Regular Hours: Wednesday – Thursday: 5:30pm – 7:30pm, Friday – Saturday: 1:00pm – 7:30pm, and Sunday: 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Happy Hour: Due to Georgia’s antiquated beer laws happy hour is not a possibility.
- The Terrapin name comes from the Grateful Dead’s ninth studio album named Terrapin Station.
- Terrapin brews 25 to 30 beers a year plus any collaborations they are involved in.
- The canning line produces 200 cans per minute.
- Terrapin has brewed over 70 unique beers since 2002.
- 50% of the beer Terrapin produces is sold in Georgia.
- The collaboration Terrapin did with Cigar City Brewing named Vapricot is presently aging in white wine barrels.
- A batch of Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout is brewed in June specifically for export to Sweden. Moo-Hoo is the only beer Sweden receives from Terrapin.
- Terrapin distributes to 11 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica.
- Richard Biffle designs the labels that feature the turtle in them. He is best known for designing the Grateful Dead album covers.
- Chris Pinkerton designs the labels that feature artwork not based around the turtle such as the label for Mosaic. He is best known for his work with Ben & Jerry’s, the Beatles, Bob Marley, Garth Brooks, the Grateful Dead, Guns N’ Roses, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, and many more.
Overall Rating (1-5): I’m giving the Terrapin Beer Company a 4.5. Every member of the staff was beyond friendly. I enjoyed everything I had on tap and there was a very welcoming feel. I will certainly be back the next time I’m in the area. I hope by then the laws have changed for the betterment of Georgia’s blossoming craft beer scene.
What was missing: I honestly can’t come up with anything that was missing. My usual complaint about there being no stout available wasn’t in question with the abundance of the style on tap. Yay beer!
This is my third and final review of our trip to Athens, Georgia. I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have enjoyed writing them for you.
Is there something else you would like to know about the Terrapin Beer Company? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.