Terrapin is expanding its line—and its production, trying to keep up with demand.
Ah, dear beersters… we have a couple of items to cover in this less-ramblesome-than-usual ramble, so I’ll get going in shorter order than a french fry cook. The weekend of Friday, Apr. 13 through Sunday, Apr. 15 will be a busy one for beer-lovers in 30601-land. Aromas’ Brewhaha Barrel-aged Beerfest is on Friday at 6 p.m. Terrapin’s 10th Anniversary Carnival is Saturday, and the 17th Annual Classic City Brew Fest is Sunday. Whew! Now to elaborate a whet.
Item One: Recently, I talked with founders business guy (and fellow lefty) John Cochran and brewing guy Spike Buckowski at their office, while a young Cochran lad played video games that made most amusing (but unbothersome) bleeping and blernking noises.
“We rolled out our first kegs of Terrapin Rye Pale Ale on the Thursday before Brew Fest in 2002,” John recalled. “Brew Fest was then at the Classic Center and on Saturday. I’m guessing that Thursday was the second. That’s really our anniversary, but we decided to have our party this Saturday because it’s the day before Brew Fest, and a lot of our fans will already be in town for that.
“We had only four initial draft locations: Wild Wing, Sons of Italy, the Globe and the Steam Company Pub. Of course, after two or three weeks, we had 25 or more. We were initially draft only; bottles made their debut in July, 2004… I think it was. Hey, Ort., the scrapbook’s at home.”
“You were brewing at Frederick [Maryland] then,” I offered.
“Right,” answered John. “We were a contract brew… We’re now in nine states: Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” John explained. We’re not adding any new markets for at least two years. After all, we pushed it to brew 19,000 barrels last year. We had orders for 32,000 barrels, but, hey, that’s a good problem!”
“You’ve got new equipment about to be installed,” I prompted.
“Yes! Eight new fermenters and two bright tanks,” John ticked off. “That’ll assist in raising our brewhouse capacity from 25 barrels to 100 barrels. In 2012, we hope to produce 25,000 barrels, and in 2013, 35,000 or so. Oh… interestingly enough, Hopsecutioner is now our largest-selling beer. People’s tastes have matured since we started.”
I thought back to my first tryings of Anchor Steam Beer and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which seem less assertive to me now, but only because my palate is used to more flavorful brews. Those two old standards, mark my words, are every drop as good now as they ever were, and maybe even better: world-class, even. But by now I’ve sampled so many out-there brews that they seem almost mundane by comparison.
At this point Spike wandered in. “Our 10th Anniversary Brew is Belgian Golden Spiced Ale,” he informed me. “Wanna try some?”
I nodded, and he disappeared with an ominously empty pitcher.
“It’s 10 percent alcohol,” John warned me. “Be careful.”
“Here ya go,” Spike said upon return. “Spiced with bitter orange, sweet orange, coriander and chamomile, using a Chouffe yeast, and unfiltered,” he explained proudly.
“Oooooooooohhhhh, yesssssss!” I gasped. “Goooooood!!!”
“Can we say it’s Ort-approved?” someone asked. I nodded, slowly savoring the elixir.
“It took me 10 years, but I got one right,” Spike admitted gently, smugly.
He sure as hell did. Oh—as for Terrapin’s soiree—there’ll be bands and fun and 20-plus different brews on tap, some on cask and some barrel-aged. You won’t want to miss it. It starts Saturday, Apr. 14 at 4:30 p.m. and lasts until 8:30 p.m. or whenever the beer runs out. Or I do. Jeez.
Item Two: Now, as for who will be at the 17th Annual Classic City Brew Fest, Sunday, Apr. 15 from 2:30–6 p.m. at the Foundry Park Inn and the Melting Point, we know that, barring catastrophe, Jailhouse Brewing will attend. Wait until you see what resident genius Glenn Golden pulls from his sleeve this time! After all, this year there are 15 rare, one-off casks to sample, and last year Jailhouse brought one that disappeared rather quickly… vaporized, as it were.
There will be 250 beers and live music. Take a look at the website: www.BrewFest.net for more information, and scroll down for groovy photos of Copper Creek brewer Matt Buley (you’ll have to guess who he is, though) and Jailhouse’s Glenn and his wondrous wife Melissa… among others. It’s always major merriment, and I’ll be there as working press, making a great attempt to remain upright and not nod off to sleep.
Enough new products have arrived in Georgia since last year to give me a busy time, as every year I only sample what I’ve not had before. Gulp. I may have to let my belt out a notch for this caper.
Tickets for this Brew Fest may be obtained online (if any remain as I write!). And that does it for this edition of Beer Notes. See y’all at the tap handles. Prosit! (30.)
William Orten Carlton = ORT. Beer Editor for Flagpole