If it sounds like there could be a separate battle brewing between adolescent and elder brewing companies, think again. Nancy Palmer, executive director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild (of which SweetWater and Terrapin are both members), knows firsthand how fatuous the idea of a rivalry between SweetWater and Terrapin would be.
“Both of these brands are a huge source of pride for the cities they call home,” she says. “Their innovation, unwavering passion, and consistency have put Georgia on the map as a place where excellent craft beer is made. They've invested in urban manufacturing and caused ripples throughout the industry -- beer wholesalers, bars, restaurants, convention centers, etc. have all reaped the benefits of the craft brewing energy created by these companies.”
Noted beer writer Dennis Byron, aka “Ale Sharpton,” agrees. “I don't see gang signs just yet. Every event I hit up has brew reps trying each other's brews and commenting on how the industry can grow collectively. Everyone is very down-to-earth and they love their communities with the various charitable causes they support year-round. With two enterprising breweries that bring so much presence, I think they have a lot in common -- the humor of their campaigns, the love for their communities, and the kickass parties they throw throughout the year. No one really shits on each other... no ‘he said, she said’ bullshit.”
If there needs to be a villain in this scenario, one that two potential rivals could bond together to fight against, it'd be Georgia law. Particularly a law that restricts craft and microbreweries from selling their own beers -- and other ways they might promote themselves.
“Unfortunately, we are limited greatly by Georgia’s antiquated laws and we are not able to serve our communities in the way they desire,” says Nick Purdy, cofounder of Paste magazine and founding partner of Avondale Estates-based Wild Heaven Craft Beers, one of Atlanta’s recent brewing success stories. “Voter desires are being ignored by politicians, but we do the best we can to create spaces where our friends and neighbors can come together to share a beer. Regionally, craft beer is growing very fast, in part to catch up with the rest of the country. The South has been behind, but a lot of good stuff is happening. From new breweries, to better laws in most states, and an understanding that our businesses are the best kind. We create manufacturing jobs. [We] pay excise taxes and generate tourism.”