Let’s face it, for us beer enthusiasts who happen to hit up a professional baseball game, we unfortunately prepare for the style selection to, put it simply, suck. And even when there is an extensive roster of IPAs, Wheats, and Pilsners like the ones you'll find at Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field, Busch Stadium in Saint Louis, and the Baltimore Orioles’ Camden Yards, those quality sips can get a bit pricey.
Lucky for us, the planners of the recently constructed, multi-use development spanning 1.5 million square feet – The Battery in Atlanta, Georgia – took good beer heavily into consideration when they conceived the Atlanta Braves’ all-new SunTrust Park. During the initial stages for the 41,500-seat stadium, Athens, Georgia-based Terrapin Beer Company was offered the opportunity to not only have their own Taproom, but also their own microbrewery directly adjacent to the park called the ATL Brew Lab.
The overall concept included the pairing of their award-winning ales and lagers with the city’s barbecue authority, Fox Brothers, who would be serving their lip-smackin’ fare in the Taproom. Terrapin Co-Founder and Brewmaster Brian “Spike” Buckowski was certainly floored when he initially heard the news about a possible partnership.
“Well, it was a match made in heaven when we got the call that the Braves organization wanted to pair Terrapin Beer company with Fox Brothers BBQ,” Buckowski recounts by phone. “They thought the idea of a brewery inside the stadium was a no-brainer and were really excited to team up with us. I am ecstatic to have this opportunity. I’ve been a Braves fan since I moved to Atlanta in 1992.”
Buckowski, originally from New Britain, CT, worked with two local breweries after setting up shop in Georgia’s capital – Atlanta Brewing Company and 5 Seasons – before partnering with John Cochrane to eventually open Terrapin back in 2002.
Their Great American Beer Festival Gold-Medal winning Rye Pale Ale helped paved the way for their now extensive catalog; Terrapin’s IPAs, lagers, imperial stouts, wheats, farmhouse ales, and numerous other styles are packaged with eye-popping artwork, a tree-hugging turtle as a mascot, edgy marketing (Wake-n-Bake Imperial Coffee Stout), and more than 120 employees representing the brand throughout the East Coast. A 2016 partnership with Tenth and Blake (Miller Coors’ craft and import division) surely didn’t hurt their expansion either.
Regarding the beer they serve exclusively for Battery Park, where visitors and gameday ticketholders have access, Terrapin’s creativity in both brewing and promotion has evidently not been compromised.
Take their “Chopsecutioner” for example. Recognizing the tomahawk-chopping theme the Braves embrace, it’s not only a more crushable version of their flagship IPA – the Hopsecutioner (7.3% alcohol by volume) – but the Chopsecutioner was also aged on chips from Mizuno baseball bats. And that’s just the beginning.
“It’s a blank canvas,” Buckowski said. “We are going to brew every style under the sun, and will probably make up some of our own. We brewed a brown ale called ‘Shwing Batta Brown’ because I felt it would be a perfect match for Fox Brothers’ barbecue.” Loving his new playground – ATL Brew Lab – Buckowski adds, “Because of its small size, we are going to be able to use unique and interesting ingredients that are pretty tough to use on our big system in Athens. It’s like our very own test kitchen.”
Down the pipeline, Buckowski said for attendees to look forward to a saison, wit, helles, pilsner, oktoberfest, porter, IPA, pale ale, ESB, bock, Berliner-Weiss, gose, and stout to name a few. Existing Terrapin brews are also pulled from taps and served by the can, including the Sound Czech Pils; Golden Ale; T-Time (their recent Berliner Weisse-style ale brewed with lemon peel and tea); HI-5 IPA; Recreation Ale; and the aforementioned Rye Pale Ale and Hopsecutioner.
And with their 12-ounce cans going for $5 in the Taproom, you won’t need a ballplayer’s salary to enjoy a plethora of handcrafted brews to imbibe.
Thanks to Remo Remoquillo for the header illustration.