In July of 2013, Terrapin sold 4,030 barrels of beer. That’s 8,060 kegs. Or 55,533 cases. Or 124,930 gallons of beer. In only one month! What really brought the significance of this number home to me was when I realized it was more beer than we sold in all of 2002, 2003 and 2004 combined. Terrapin just sold more beer in one month than we did in our first three years in business!!
So of course I started reminiscing about those first three years and how different they were. In 2002 we sold 162 barrels. Only Rye Pale Ale, only draft and only in Athens and some surrounding counties. I worked every day visiting retailers trying to explain why they should support this new beer of which no one had ever heard. Then I worked all night doing the books, taxes, arranging shipping etc. Spike and I talked on the phone every night at 9pm because our minutes were free after that time! It was a tough year but six months after we started the Rye Pale Ale was picked as the best pale ale in the country at the GABF!
In 2003 Terrapin sold just over 800 barrels of beer. We launched into Atlanta, added the Extreme Cream Ale (anyone remember that one?) and remained draft only. By this point we were starting to attend some beer fests, music fests and other events to promote the brand. Our first two employees came on board; Dustin Watts (my right-hand sales rock-star) remains with us today. Still no pay for the founders, still working all day and all night, but people were starting to pay attention. And I got to hang in bars and call it work. Not too shabby!
2004. A breakthrough year for Terrapin. Bottles are released midyear and we produce over 2,700 barrels. Terrapin is now available throughout GA and starting to expand. By this point I’m working 18 hour days, 7 days a week and loving every minute of it. It seemed like every weekend was a beer fest or music fest, usually with the family tagging along. I could not have done this without their support. My wife Irina was at every fest and supported my much more than full time, non paying job. Yeah, those were the days.
Terrapin today? 43 full time employees, 30+ part timers, 22+ different beers per year in 10 different states. We are small enough to think of our selves as a large family but big enough to offer our employees insurance, 401k match and a profit sharing plan. Personally, I’m still traveling, meeting new people, hanging out in bars and having fun. Best of all, I’m getting paid now.