Terrapin Beer Co. plans to open a new taproom and pilot microbrewery adjoining SunTrust Park, the new home stadium of Atlanta Braves. The taproom will serve up familiar brews from the Athens, GA beer maker and barbecue from Atlanta’s Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. Meanwhile, the accompanying ATL Brew Lab—a 5-barrel microbrewery—will operate as an experimentation and collaboration center for Terrapin, featuring beers that won’t be available anywhere else. The project is the result of a “multi-year partnership” between the Braves and MillerCoors, which, as of June, owns a majority interest in Terrapin.
WHY IT MATTERS
There’s always been a certain harmony between baseball and beer. Now, with craft beer sharing the spotlight with big beer, the libation’s relationship with baseball—and, indeed, all sports—is more nuanced than it’s ever been before. Hence, last year the Kansas City Royals rebranded its .390 Club as Craft & Draft, an in-stadium bar dominated primarily by Boulevard tap handles, with appearances from other local outposts. Then this past August, Sierra Nevada entered into a 10-year partnership with the Sacramento Kings that will see the basketball team incorporate a Sierra-branded “draught house” at its new stadium. And even the most cursory of Google searches inquiring about “craft beer at sports stadiums” will yield countless results from cities all over the country detailing similar efforts—not to mention more than a few listicles deciding which city’s pairing of sports and beer is best.
This Terrapin deal reinforces that, but it’s mostly interesting for a somewhat different reason. The partnership ostensibly enables Terrapin to behave as a smaller brand, despite its recent partnership with MillerCoors. (It’s worth noting, also, that it had sold a minority interest to the beer conglomerate back in 2012). But it also gives Terrapin an opportunity to move a lot of beer in a relatively short amount of time—something its new owners are likely to prioritize in the years to come.
‘[[W]hat Brew Lab is going to allow us to do is come up with new recipes and new beers,” Brian Buckowski, Terrapin co-founder and vice president of brewing development, told the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s restaurants blog. “And what will be exciting is that people can come out…and hang out and try those beers. Terrapin has never had a pilot system, so this will let us get really creative.”
Accordingly, the company plans to tinker with new styles while offering limited releases that can only be found there. Which sort of throws a wrench in the dubious belief that being bought out is some sign of homogenization or the death of creativity.
On top of that, it’ll be worth watching to see how the new in-stadium beer menu changes, if at all, in light of this partnership. In 2015, Eater sized up all of the craft beer offerings at MLB’s 30 ballparks and found that at Turner Field, the now retired Braves home, SweetWater was the most heavily represented local brand. Terrapin’s Hopsecutioner was, at the time, the only Terrapin beer available in the park itself. In the statement detailing the latest partnership, the Braves describe Terrapin as the new “flagship craft brewery for the ballpark.” It doesn’t, however, specify any in-stadium initiatives to push the brand, though, nor does it say how the beer lineup itself will be affected.
Fox Bros. join Terrapin in new taproom and brewery adjacent to new Braves ballpark [AJC]