Brewer Bytes with Terrapin Beer
An Interview with Brian ''Spike'' Buckowski, Brewmaster and Co-Founder
Posted on 10/16/2012 by Chops
Mention the name Terrapin to any craft beer drinker in the Southeastern states and you will immediately spark stories of personal triumph. The brewery is well known for their Side Project and Monster Beer series. Brews like the Wake N' Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout and Big Hoppy Monster Imperial Red Ale have made Terrapin a go-to source of diabolical gratification. Oh, and this is all on top of the fact that they produce an award winning core line of delicious brews. As big fans of the brewery, we were all very excited when Brewmaster and Co-Founder Brian ''Spike'' Buckowski agreed to offer up some Brewer Bytes.
What inspired you to get into brewing?
My old college roomate turned me on to home brewing. He was living in California and told me about his new hobby. I took up the sport, and never looked back.
Do you have a not-so-fond memory about building your brewery?
We were all done with the build out in July, and it took the Feds and State government until December to get us all of our licenses.
How do you feel about your overall success today?
We have really been taken aback at all of the positive feedback from our loyal Terrapin followers. It has been great to see this brewery grow and get outstanding recognition and accolades.
What is the most challenging beer for you to brew?
It would have to be delicate beers like Kolsch, Alt, Munich Helles, and other lighter styles. You can easily hide behind big beers with a huge malt or hop profile, but it's another thing to try to pull off the complexities of more easy drinking beers.
What was your best or most rewarding brewing experience?
I think that winning the Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival for our Rye Pale Ale in 2002 was the biggest for me. We were only 6 months old at the time and it was the first time we entered the competition.
What are your favorite beers outside of your own?
That's a really tough question, but it really has to do with the situation at hand like weather, the food I'm eating, the social situation, or even who I am with. I do love a really good Pilsner, but I also like the hoppiness of a well made IPA.
What are your favorite breweries outside of your own?
I think Sierra Nevada makes a solid product and are the true pioneers of the craft brewing seen. I'm a huge John Maier fan from Rogue. Firestone Walker makes great beers. I think Victory makes awesome beers especially Prima Pils. There are so many more, but those stand out for me at the moment.
How do you feel about beer reviewing and its impact on the industry?
I think that it's a double edged sword. Sometimes you can have a great product, but if one guy from the east coast picks it up from a growler store and leaves it in his car for a week, then ships it to the West Coast, it probably won't be in the best shape and then will get a bad review. On the other hand, this is a great way to get your product in the hands of people who might not get a chance to try them because you don't distribute in their area.