Local Brew was Inspired by Grateful Dead’s Terrapin Station
Athens’ music scene finds another appreciative venue at Terrapin Brewery, the only production brewery in the city where REM, the B52s, and others got their starts.
It’s not as romantic a story as making bathtub gin that wows the world or nursing a single grapevine that became an award-winning wine, but Terrapin Beer has been at the tops of tastebuds since it burst on the scene in 2002.
John Cochran and Brian Butowski, an official Deadhead who everybody calls Spike, began brewing beer in a legal place insanitary conditions in Atlanta and by April 2002 felt confident enough about their efforts that they served the first glasses of Terrapin Rye Pale Ale at the City Classics Beer Fest in Athens. It was an instant hit.
Just a few months later, the same Pale Ale won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Fest in Denver.
Terrapin Brewery Opens in Athens Georgia
By 2007, things were rolling so well that Spike and John took the next step and opened Terrapin Brewery in Athens, in part because its a college town, in part because of the legendary music in Athens, and well, because the guys just like the city.
Terrapin Brewery is open for tours and tastings from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The tours are free as is the beer, but guests must pay $8 for a glass that can be filled eight times with four-ounce samples.
And in the open courtyard outback, one of the up and coming bands of Athens entertains, also for free.
Tours include the bottling operation for 11,000 barrels a year, which equals about 22,000 kegs.
What’s On Tap at Terrapin
Terrapin always has its award-winning Rye Pale Ale on tap, as well as a SunRay Wheat, India-style Brown Ale, and Golden Ale. In October 2009, the brewmasters will introduce Hopsicutioner as one of its year-round offerings.
Several seasonal brews are available as well.
Building Green Beer
While the bottles and cardboard carriers are decorative additions to any apartment, game room or dormitory, the guys at Terrapin encourage their customers to recycle the colorful carriers at the brewery. Bring in a cardboard carrier and receive a free T-shirt. Although tours are just Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the gift shop and recycling center are open seven days a week.
The Luna Baking Company in Athens purchases much of the spent grain from Terrapin, creating a Terrapin Spent Grain Bread that is served in restaurants throughout this part of Georgia. It’s almost as popular as the beer itself.
Livestock farmers purchase the remaining spent grain for animal feed.