MillerCoors’ craft company Tenth & Blake announced in July that it would become the majority stake owner in Athens, Ga.’s Terrapin Beer Co. We all sighed and went back to watching Stranger Things. Among Georgia craft brands, Terrapin is No. 2 in volume to Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewing Co., so it’s a significant craft acquisition that will have an immediate impact for big and small beer. Now, Terrapin co-founder John Cochran has popped up in Asheville, N.C. He’s purchased Altamont Brewing on Haywood Road in town and is currently transforming it into UpCountry Brewing. Currently, he’s waiting on the permits and paperwork to start brewing but the restaurant and taproom are already open.
First off, we love that the brewery’s tagline on the homepage is a “A celebration of richness.” Our suggestion: You might want to drop that. Second off, in a small town that already has nearly 20 local breweries, Cochran’s road to success might be a little more challenged than Athens, Ga. Plus, news like this can’t help but create speculation. Will there be animosity from other local brewers? Will Cochran end up flipping UpCountry to the next big buyer if it’s successful, giving a global beverage company a foothold in Asheville? Will beer tourists even know or care? Probably not that last one. According to an article on Greenville Online:
“It’s crazy how much (craft brewing) has changed,” [Cochran] said. “Local used to mean regional. Terrapin was local to Asheville and Greenville. Now, if you are not down the street, you are not local anymore.
“When we first started (Terrapin) there was a time there were only three breweries open in Georgia (the other two being Sweetwater and Atlanta Brewing). There were some that started earlier then closed.”
Cochran was in charge of the financial side of Terrapin, and co-founder “Spike” Buckowski was in charge of brewing, so the actual beer side of things for UpCountry will probably be different. Of course, it’s hard to be different in a community as diverse as Asheville. From the article:
“It’s so exciting to have a clean slate,” Cochran said last week. “What do you make to stand out in Asheville? That is the question.
“We are still looking at styles. The brand has to do with the mountains and outdoor activities. I think we will be doing some more sessionable styles. That is what we will focus on as we start selling outside a bit. In the taproom, that is the plan to experiment and have fun and we will make everything.”