We’ve visited a lot of cities so far on our “I See Georgia” tour. As we’ve traveled around the state, we have seen and experienced so much: architecture; history; food. We’ve also tasted quite a few beers; most of which were local, either to the city we were in, or the state at large.
In Rome, we sampled Downtown Brown and Big Mama Peach at Rome Brewing Company. While touring our home city of Athens, we downed several glasses of Creature Comforts Tropicalia and Bibo. During our vacation in Savannah, we tried brews by Sweetwater Brewing Company, Jeckyll Brewing Company, and Tybee Island’s Coastal Brewing Company.
I enjoy sipping local beer. So you can imagine my excitement when we received invitations to attend a release party for Terrapin Brewing Company’s new offering: Blueberry Thyme Saison.
If you’ve never visited a brewery, why the hell not? Seriously though, you should check it out! A cover charge at the door gives the visitor access to the entire lineup of beers. The Terrapin release party was open to the public for a reasonable $12 cover. Of course, due to the fact that Dena would be photographing the event in exchange for our admission, we entered free of charge.
The release party was scheduled to last from 5:30-7:30pm. We arrived just at 5:15 and were given plastic cups, along with six tickets good for 6 ounces of beer each. Not bad, you might say. I agree that 36 ounces of beer for free is a good thing. But it gets even better! When I approached the bar, and asked to try the new blueberry release, I was handed a full 16oz cup in exchange for one ticket. You can already see where this is going!
Over the next 2 hours, I sampled six of Terrapin’s offerings. I’m no beer expert, so this review will not be one of those with a lot of talk about hops and malts. It will also not feature a bunch of abbreviations like ABV and IBU. Instead, I’ll merely give my impressions of each beer I tried.
First up was the star of the show, the Blueberry Thyme Saison. The first thing I noticed was the combination of tart and sweet from the blueberries. By definition, a Saison is generally highly carbonated with a 7-8% alcohol content. The Blueberry Thyme was no exception, and after just a few sips, I could feel it. In addition to the fruit flavor, there was also the herb taste of the thyme. A very refreshing brew!
After polishing off the Blueberry, I returned to the bar and came away with a Maggie’s Peach Farmhouse Ale. I could immediately taste the peach, along with the somewhat stout flavor of the ale. Being from Georgia, I can’t help but like just about anything involving peaches. But Maggie’s featured a bit too much of a good thing for my taste. Good, but not one of my favorites.
After a pair of fruit-tinged beers, I decided to take a break from flavored brews and go with an old standby, Hopsecutioner. A light-colored IPA with an aroma of pine, this one has long been a go-to option when ordering at a bar or restaurant. I took a seat and sipped it while people-watching.
Next up was Watermelon Gose. I don’t have much experience with Gose style beers, but the main things I noticed were the tartness and the saltiness. It seemed like the type of beer you might bring along to a picnic; the type where kids run around and play while the adults kick back and take it easy. A perfect companion to a hot summer day.
By this point, I was more than a little buzzed. I’d used four of my six tickets, and found myself wondering if I could handle redeeming the last two. Fortunately, about halfway through my Watermelon Gose, a man walked through the crowd of drinkers. He was holding a sign stating that a tour of the brewery would begin in five minutes.
Dena was still hard at work, so I decided that at least one of us should take the tour. I followed the sign-carrier across the room and into a small foyer where, along with about 10 others, I received safety glasses and tips on what to expect on the floor.
Now, over the years, I’ve spent my fair share of time in warehouses. From books to furniture to pharmacy items, I’ve been in the fray as goods were distributed to retail stores. But never before had I entered a workplace as cool as the Terrapin warehouse.
First and foremost, tourists were allowed to take their beers into the warehouse! Yes, you heard that correctly. As we walked along, learning more about the beer-making process with every stop, we sipped from our cups and gave thanks to anyone who might be listening for our good fortune. We passed people who were making, packaging, storing, and stacking cases of beer; all while sampling the wares. Where else can you get a deal like that?
Back in the main room, Dena handed me her current beer, a Tart Cherry Wake-N-Bake, which was still about half full. I sipped this newest concoction and was immediately struck by the strong flavor. Terrapin’s normal Wake-N-Bake is a coffee oatmeal stout, featuring coffee brewed by local favorite Jittery Joe’s. But this particular brew added a tart cherry flavor on top of the coffee taste. Unique, though a bit strange.
Just as I was finishing the Tart Cherry came an announcement that the brewery would stop serving in ten minutes. Oh, the horror! I immediately got in line to try one more beer. Though I didn’t set out to do so, I ended up saving the best for last. I stepped to the front of the line and ordered a Walking Dead Blood Orange IPA.
Oh, how we here at the Bear Team love The Walking Dead! This show has everything: violence, sex, drama, violence, gore, confrontation, violence, weapons, loyalty, survival, and violence. Plus, it is filmed right here in Georgia! Sundays when new episodes debut are events; days planned entirely around 9:00pm.
I know what some of you are saying: “I don’t watch that show. I don’t like shows about zombies.” To you unfortunate souls, I would say: just try it. Just try it and tell me that you don’t like it. I was once like you, resisting being caught up in the mania. But this show is so much more than a zombie/horror show. In fact, after a while, the zombies almost fade into the background; a minor nuisance to take our minds off the human drama that unfolds in an apocalyptic world.
So, given our affinity for the show, it was only natural that I try a beer named for it. I took a sip and was immediately taken in. The citrus flavor reminded me of Tropicalia, a favorite that regular readers will be familiar with. As I sipped on my beer, I met up with Dena, and we headed outside to check out the patio area.
We stepped into the warm evening, joining a throng of others who were enjoying their beverages. For reasons I’m not sure of (perhaps a nod to the previously mentioned Hopsecutioner), there was a guillotine outside. We took turns taking our pictures with our heads beneath the blade, though by then, I’m not sure I’d have cared even if the thing had been operational.
Soon, the time had come to end our visit, so I finished my beer and tossed my cup into the recycling bin. I’d used five of my six tickets, but had actually tried six beers. I’m counting it as a 100% success rate!
We headed home, still buzzing from all the beer we’d consumed. While the Terrapin Brewery is not a city or town, it is as Georgia as can be, and we are proud to offer it as a destination on our tour.
That’s all for now. As always, thanks for reading. We certainly appreciate it. For more information on Terrapin, and a run down on all of the beers I sampled, visit the official website at http://terrapinbeer.com/.
Next time: We’ll dive head first into our favorite summer festival. It’s the annual musical smorgasbord, Athfest!