A Night Out with Terrapin Beer
and the Atlanta Braves
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Baseball, beer, and BBQ. Is there anything more American? Well, that’s exactly what we had the opportunity to experience recently during our behind-the-scenes tour of The Terrapin Taproom and ATL Brew Lab, which is located right outside of SunTrust Park, home to Chris’s favorite baseball team, the Atlanta Braves. Serving up Terrapin beer, both classics and new brews, make sure you put this spot on your list of things to do in Atlanta, whether you’re here for a Braves game or just a random Tuesday evening.
The sparkling new SunTrust Park saw its first pitch back in 2017, and The Terrapin Taproom and ATL Brew Lab, a combination restaurant, bar and brewery, has been around since day one. The Terrapin brew lab produces some seriously fresh, unique, and baseball-themed brews while the taproom slings insanely delicious Texas-style barbecue, compliments of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, one of Atlanta’s (and the nation’s) most sought-after BBQ joints!
Terrapin Beer Company
As you might expect, the Terrapin brew lab, officially dubbed the ATL Brew Lab, is the offspring of Terrapin Beer Company, which you may know as one of the largest and top Georgia breweries.
For those unaware of and/or needing a quick history lesson on Terrapin beer: many years ago, the two owners, John Cochran and Spike Buckowski, were working together at one of Atlanta’s first craft brewery, but wanted to contribute something of their own to craft beer in the South. They were clearly onto something. In 2002, John and Spike brewed the Rye Pale Ale in Athens, Georgia (which is still home to Terrapin beer), and only six months later, that same beer won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
Today, in addition to the award-winning Rye Pale Ale, there are several other year-round beers including Luau Krunkles, Up-Hi, and Hopsecutioner, one of the classiest IPAs in the business! Yes, we said an IPA was classy. Terrapin also does many seasonal beers which you might have seen around such as the Watermelon Gose, perfect for those hot-and-sticky Southern summers, and the Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout.
Let’s get this out of the way now: Terrapin’s relationship with MillerCoors has allowed for a significant increase in brewing capacity and much wider distribution of the staple Terrapin beer. It’s because of this partnership that they can bring their delicious beers to more places for you to try and the ability of the Terrapin brew lab to experiment with much smaller batches like the good ol’ days.
Terrapin Brew Lab
Since its first brew back in 2002, Terrapin beer has built a strong and loyal Southern following, which overlaps with so-called “Braves Country” (think Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, the Carolinas). So, when the opportunity presented itself to open a taproom and brew lab right outside of the new stadium of the South’s most popular baseball team, it was a no-brainer and a match made in beer-and-baseball heaven!
One of three Major League ballparks to have a brewery located on-site (Coors Field in Colorado and Citi Field in New York being the others), the ATL Brew Lab is putting a new spin on America’s favorite pastime, which is no longer just watching a baseball game….it’s watching a baseball game with local craft beer in your hand!
Mark Crouch, ATL Brew Lab’s commercial operations manager and resident trade brewer (more on what that is in a bit), told us that this Terrapin brew lab is being used as a “lighthouse” of sorts for the Athens-based brewery. With upwards of 40,000 beer-thirsty baseball fans coming to the park every home game (Ok, minus the kids in attendance), it’s unbelievable exposure for the Terrapin beer brand.
Even better, it’s one of the best testing grounds to see how the new experimental brews are received by the public before being called up to the big leagues, aka being produced in mass quantities up the road in Athens.
The Terrapin Brewing Team
Mark is joined in the ATL Brew Lab by brewmaster Peter Trapani and associate brewer Chad Martin. These three guys have all been with the brew lab since the beginning, so the team chemistry (something all baseball teams are looking for) is definitely there. Their combined list of accomplishments and experience is rather impressive, too.
- Mark, a Certified Cicerone, has been in the beer business since 2006, most recently working with Tenth and Blake Beer Company, the craft and import business development arm of MillerCoors.
- Peter worked as a young brewer at the famed Pizza Port Brewing Company in San Diego, completed the Master Brewers Certificate program at UC-Davis, and served as Commissioning Brewer and Assistant Brewmaster at Sierra Nevada’s new brewery just outside of Asheville, NC.
- Chad studied Horticulture at Auburn University, developed a passion for homebrewing, and eventually latched on as a cellarman at SweetWater Brewing Company in Atlanta before joining the Brew Lab team.
While the trio of Crouch, Trapani, and Martin might not have the same ring to it as Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz (that was for you, Braves fans), they are producing similarly stellar results!
The Brewing Process
With its 5-barrel pilot system, the experimental Terrapin beer is produced in much smaller quantities. Even with the multiple fermentation and brite tanks (six 10-barrel tanks and four 10-barrel tanks, respectively), they just can’t seem to produce enough of this liquid gold as most of the brews last only a few days when the Braves are in town. And don’t worry, they always have some of the staple Terrapin beers on tap to fill any tap handle voids.
Mark tells us that almost all of what they produce on-site has to stay in the taproom to meet demand (a small portion might go to a beer festival and some always goes to Athens for the main tasting room). Braves fans must be thirsty! One of the perks of thirsty baseball fans drinking them dry is that it means more experimentation, and collaboration, opportunities!
The ATL Brew Lab, which, by Georgia law, is separate from the Terrapin Taproom, does experimentation for pilot Terrapin recipes, but the brew team also has quite a bit of creative license to try out their own recipes, too.
Terrapin Beer Collaborations: Old Players Help Create New Beers
The collaborations probably aren’t what you think of when you think about a beer collaboration, but they are fun and relevant to the Braves. The Terrapin brew lab has had the chance to collaborate on a few beers with former Braves players, including Hall of Famer Chipper Jones (CJ10 Kölsch) and current TV broadcaster (and former player) Jeff Francoeur (Frenchy’s Blues – blueberry sour ale).
You know how we love supporting local, so we were all about the fresh blueberries from this year’s harvest (from a blueberry farm that Francoeur owns in south Georgia) being used in making his beer! In true baseball fashion, Francoeur’s only requirement was to have better statistics than Chipper’s beer, meaning a higher ABV percentage!
Hopsecutioner Meet Chopsecutioner
Having such a heavy presence at a baseball stadium, you’d expect the baseball theme and clichés to run rampant in the names of the beers. And you’d be right! Check out some of these baseball-themed beer names that have been made at the Terrapin brew lab over the years:
- It’s Baseball Saison
- Citra Field Pale Ale
- Three Strikes You’re Stout
- Doppel Play
- Hoppin’ Bubbly – a Brut IPA collaboration with Miller High Life – the champagne of beers
Chopsecutioner might be one of Chris’s favorites for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a way for him to show off his Braves fandom year-round, even hours away in Virginia. Second, it’s a version of the classic Hopsecutioner, but aged on wood baseball bat chips! It’s also a sessionable and sippable IPA, something Terrapin calls ballpark-friendly in that it’s lower in ABV and a refreshing change from the light beers of the sporting world.
On Deck IPA, another one of the brew lab’s creations, was one of the first beers brewed on the pilot system at the stadium and subsequently produced on a big scale in Athens. Today, because of its popularity, it’s being brewed at the larger Athens facility and sold at retail in 16oz cans throughout the metro-Atlanta area. A real feather in the baseball cap of the brew team.
Located literally right outside of the Chophouse Gate in right field, the Terrapin Taproom (which even has an entrance to the stadium on game days) is a great spot to kick back and enjoy some local craft beer and some good eats before catching a game.
On gameday, sit outside underneath the covered patio tables and you’ll feel the energy of the crowd as many of the pregame festivities take place right outside the front doors. Full disclosure: it can get a little loud as drumlines parade by and cheerleaders hype up the crowd. It’s all part of the atmosphere!
Even if you don’t have tickets to the game or even if there isn’t a game that day, you can still stop in and have a few beers and some BBQ and do some quality people-watching. The Terrapin Taproom, managed by Cassandra Tavarez and Delaware North, is open year-round and on non-game days has live music, DJ nights, trivia, and much more to keep you entertained. Different menu items are featured on different days of the week (non-game days) such as Mule Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, and Beer Flight Fridays.
The Battery, which is the massive mixed-use development surrounding all of SunTrust Park, is right outside the taproom’s doors. Throughout the Battery, you’ll find boutique shops and mainstream retailers, an escape room, a movie theater, a 4,000-person music venue, and numerous bars and restaurants (the Terrapin Taproom among them). You could, and should, make a whole day of it, getting some shopping done in the first part of the day, some fun/relaxation done in the afternoon, and a ballgame at night.
Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: When Beer and Baseball Aren’t Enough
Because Terrapin beer and Braves baseball weren’t tantalizing enough, the folks behind the development threw in Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, one of the best BBQ joints around, to handle food service in the Taproom and make you salivate even more. Consistently rated as one of the best restaurants in Atlanta, and one of the top BBQ restaurants nationwide, Fox Bros. is cooking up delicious barbeque inspired by Texas heat and southern spice (owners’ roots plus their current location in the Deep South).
Although you can visit Fox Bros.’s original location in Little Five Points within the city of Atlanta, it’s here at the Taproom where you can perfectly pair a Terrapin beer with your barbecue of choice! We had the BBQ nachos with chopped brisket, but substituted tots for the chips (because duh) to make some damn-good totchos! Tons of other options for you to choose from, too, including pulled pork, smoked chicken, and brisket chili.
We mentioned earlier that Mark is the Terrapin brew lab’s resident trade brewer. Basically, he’s an expert in all things beer. A beer nerd, in the nicest way of saying it! Although Mark helps out here and there with production and beer recipes, he strives to let the brewers brew while he worries about everything else.
One of his main roles is beer education (can you say dream job?) and helping the servers and patrons understand more about pairing beer with food. As an added bonus, all of the servers at the Taproom are Certified Beer Servers (level one of the Cicerone certification program) so you can definitely gab about beer with these folks!
Whether you’re here to catch the Braves in the midst of a playoff race or you just want to enjoy some great craft beer and food, the Terrapin Taproom and ATL Brew Lab need to be on your list of things to do in Atlanta.
With so much to do around The Battery, even for the non-baseball fan, you have no excuse for not stopping by to have some award-winning barbeque and trying craft beer you probably can’t find anywhere else. Drink up and Chop on!
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We are Samantha & Chris and we are Boozing Abroad (literally). Together, we've traveled to over 40 states and 20 countries drinking local beers, wines and spirits along the way.
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Samantha and Chris fell in love with traveling together back in 2015. They met, married, and lived together in Richmond, VA for 7 years before becoming full-time travelers in 2020.
Along the way, they’ve traveled to over 40 U.S. states and 20 countries while drinking local beers, wines, and spirits during their journeys.
Join them as they share travel resources, stories, and guides based on their personal experiences drinking locally when traveling globally.