I had the recent privilege of speaking on a panel titled “Inspiring Local Careers: Sustainable Athens”. This was hosted by the University of Georgia Office of Sustainability.

Getting Ready to Speak about Sustainable Careers

Getting Ready to Speak about Sustainable Careers

It was great to see so many students interested in finding a career in the Sustainability field. Lots of great people on the panel as evidenced by the sign above.

During our section we talked about many of the ways the craft beer industry as a whole is paying more attention to sustainability issues. We discussed some things Terrapin is doing currently and projects that we hope to do as Terrapin grows larger. The presentation I gave was split into 4 parts. Terrapin as a toddler, teenager, young adult and responsible grownup.





Terrapin as a toddler.

Terrapin begins! Classic City Brewfest in Athens, GA April 2002.

Terrapin begins! Classic City Brewfest in Athens, GA April 2002.

Terrapin as a toddler. Our focus was on staying in business from week to week. We contract brewed so we were able to do little on the Sustainability front.






early teen

Terrapin as an early teenager. (Look, our body is changing!)


2008 Employee Picture. Most of the people here are interns. And no, we did not use child labor.


First tanks coming to Athens in 2007.

Terrapin as an early teenager. We were still focused on surviving long term but at least we knew we would be around for the next year or two. We finally started brewing in our facility in Athens, GA. Concrete slabs from brewery construction were retrofitted into a stage rather than hauling it off to the landfill. Old shipping office in warehouse was turned into a bar in our new tour area. Spent grains went to local farmers, cardboard/glass/plastic were recycled. Money was continually raised for local charities and causes.





young adult

Terrapin as a young adult.

young adult2

2013 Terrapin Team Picture.


Bigger tanks in place. The building is filling up.

Terrapin as a young adult. This is us now. Wide-eyed with wonder at the possibilities. Defined mission statement and values. Focus on Contributing to the Community, Being Friendly to the Environment, and Providing a Great Work Environment. Instituted 401k matching and profit sharing for employees. Many more events and fundraisers for charitable causes; $28k in Athens in 2013, even more when considering other communities. Reduced water usage on bottling line by 65%. Cut energy usage and raw ingredient consumption by 15+% through set up of new brewhouse. Goal of becoming 100k bbl brewery AND Great Place to Work by 2018.







responsible grownup

Terrapin as a responsible grownup. We are starting to think about our long term future. And Sustainability is a big part of that.

Terrapin as a Responsible GrownUp. Not completely there yet but we see it coming. Looking into improving wastewater and solid waste treatment. Conversations about solar and CO2 recapture are starting to happen. Getting ready to have chats with local government about preserving water resources.






sierra nevada

Sierra Nevada in Chico, CA.

So who is our role model for when we grow up? Recognize this place? (Hint: Chico.)

According to Collin McDonnell from Hen House Brewing, owning a brewery is 90% cleaning and 10% paperwork. He also says, and I quote, “HOLY HELL STARTING A BREWERY IS SO EXPENSIVE”.


Click here and let Collin tell it like it is. I can vouch that everything he is saying is true.

To those of you who are dreaming of opening your own brewery and still want to do so after reading Collin’s comments: It’s definitely tough but if you know (and I mean really know) why you want to do it, you can do it. Best of luck.

Cheers, John

So you want to open a brewery? That’s awesome! Craft beer is growing every day. There are now over 2,700 breweries in the US and another 1,700 in planning. And yes, there is room for you too.

What is your first step? Ask questions of and learn from the professionals. Whenever you see an opportunity to get a gang of pro brewers in one room talking freely about our craft, it’s a DO NOT MISS opporutnity. So if you are a homebrewer looking to up your game, or if you have dreams of going pro, the Southeastern Craft Brewer’s Symposium is for you.

This one day conference is being held at the Mariott in downtown Decatur on Saturday April 19th, from 9am to 5pm. There will be seminars on brewing and the business of beer from leaders in the craft brewing industry in Georgia. Below is a current list of seminars. The massive amount of information being passed on at this conference will be huge in your efforts to join the ranks of professional brewers. Don’t miss this awesome opportunity to learn from some of the best!


While I was out of the office all of last week with Spike, Dustin and Steve launching Terrapin in New Orleans and Baton Rouge (yeah that was a tough trip), Erin Appel wrote up a press release recapping 2013 and previewing 2014. Since I had actually already listed that as my next topic, this just became  a really easy blog post to complete.

So with no further adieu, here is what Terrapin did recently and where we are going next.




Those of you in the corporate world or who run your own business are very familiar with this time of year. It’s about budgets and projections and performance to plan.  It’s about numbers and financials and meeting bank covenants. Those items might be interesting to financial gurus and CFOs, but what about our customers? What about the beer geeks? They don’t care if we hit plan or make our budget; they care that our beer is above reproach and that our brand remains authentic.

The Golden Circle - Simon Sinek

The Golden Circle – Simon Sinek

It is extremely easy this time of year to get caught up in the number crunching and analysis. But we need to remember this is not “why” we are in business.  It is merely “how” we continue in business. Our “why” is much stronger than that.  To understand what I am referring to you need to see Simon Sinek’s TED talk on “Start With Why”, I highly recommend it. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” (Lisa Jordan passed this tidbit on to me a couple of years ago. Big shout out to her for that.)

Simon’s video is a great reminder to keep centered on what’s important. Which is “WHY”.  I can easily tell you why Terrapin Beer Company is here. It’s our Mission Statement. Continue Reading »

All my good friends know that fall/winter is my favorite time of year. I get fall fever instead of spring fever. Once temps get down to 20′s-50′s I’m ready to head outside. Football season, hiking, camping, snow boarding (yes, I do have to travel to pull that one off) and of course, darker beers.

Recently at Terrapin we created a new addition to our product line – the Terrapin Reserve Series. These are very limited-edition, small batch brews packaged in 22oz bottles hand-dipped in wax. And since this series is starting at my favorite time of year, it is also starting with my favorite kind of beer. Continue Reading »

Bubble? What bubble?

More and more new breweries are opening every day. And for each one that opens there is another doom-and-gloom prediction about the craft beer industry. Are there too many breweries? Are the consumers who prefer more flavorful beer suddenly going away? Is the bubble about to burst?

I’m a huge believer in this industry and I believe we are here to stay for a very long time. But I’ve never been able to back that up with hard facts and figures. It has just been from my experience and from speaking with others involved in this industry. So call it my gut feeling. (Should I say my beer belly feeling?)

In June the Brewers Association hired Bart Watson, a political economist with a PhD from Cal-Berkely. Impressed? I was. Bart has done lots of research since he joined the BA and we now have the facts and figures to back up my beer belly positive feeling on the craft beer industry. It’s well written and not at all BORING like you would expect from an economist. (Sorry Bart.) Continue Reading »


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