For 13 years Terrapin Beer Company has proudly served a long list of inventive, award-winning brews to the Athens community and beyond. Located on Newton Bridge Road in Athens, the Terrapin brewery was the first craft brewing facility established in town, and their experience and expertise shows. Not to mention their recognizable brand—made complete with that fun-loving, Grateful Dead-inspired turtle on all the labels—has swept the collective hearts and minds of beer-lovers all across the region.
Terrapin was founded by two passionate brewers and businessmen who met while working at a microbrewery in Atlanta. Together, these two, John Cochran and Brian "Spike" Buckowski, took it upon themselves to up the ante in the Southeastern brewery stakes. Interested in offering the region something a little different than it had previously been privy to, John and Spike wanted to create a microbrewery that offered wide variety of unique beers made with unconventional recipes. Producing a total of about 26 different beers per year—including year-rounds and the seasonal lines—2015 has so far seen them offer 4 special-release and seasonal beers with the next special release set to be a Reserve Series beer in June.
Terrapin is infamously known for its repertoire of crisp and bitter, yet well-balanced beers. “I’m a little heavy handed on the hops,” admits Buckowski. “And anytime I get to use some type of ingredient that can enhance flavor, I love to do that too.”
Some year round notables are the Hopsecutioner IPA, Rye Pale Ale, Golden Ale (which is only served Georgia), and Liquid Bliss chocolate and peanut butter porter. In 2002, Terrapin’s Rye Pale Ale—their original beer—won the gold medal in the American Pale Ale category in 2002 at the Great American Beer Festival, just six months after it had been released. Since then, the accolades and awards haven't stopped flowing—just like the taps at the Barber Street tasting room. One look at the awards page on their website tells you all you need to know.
Terrapin also loves to give back to its supporters. “We do a lot with charities,” says Buckowski. “It’s all about us trying to give back to the community and be a good business that fits into Athens.” As such, Terrapin is constantly holding and sponsoring events at the brewery. The company also attended over 70 beer festivals last year nationwide.
Ask any Athens beer-lover where they like to go to enjoy a cold one, and almost all of them will tell you that Terrapin is worth a visit. The brewery has an expansive lawn for socializing, watching the sunset, listening to live music, and playing with friends and canines. “It’s a really nice festive atmosphere,” says Buckowski. Terrapin also recently remodeled their indoor tasting room to allow more space for visitors during the colder months.
Brewery hours are Wed-Thurs 5:30-7:30, Fri-Sat 4:30-7:30, and Sunday at 1:30-3:30. Be sure to get there early to beat the line and snag a specialty pint glass! The Terrapin pint glasses are forever changing in color and logo prints depending on specific events. And you can never have enough Terrapin glasses (peek into any local’s kitchen cabinet shelf for proof).
Want to take Terrapin on the go? Lucky for you, Terrapin recently released several of their beers in cans. The Recreation Ale and California style HI-5 IPA cans are perfect for any paddle or hike. The beer is sold in more than 8 states. Right now you can find Terrapin in GA, AL, TN, FL, SC, LA, NC, VA, WV, PA, NJ, MD, Wash. D.C., and even Puerto Rico.
Whether it’s in a bar, on the Terrapin grounds, or out on an adventure with friends, enjoying a Terrapin beer is sure to bring untapped “hoppiness.”