This blog is called, “Beasts and Brew”….but aside from implying that I’m drinking and ranting about animals I’ve pretty much neglected talking about the brews. That is gonna change today! We are going to discuss one of my go to beers and the animal associated with it.
Terrapin Beer Co., founded by John Cochran and Spike Buckowski, they brewed up their first beer back in April of 2002, a ‘Rye Pale Ale’ and have since gone on to win awards and make tons of different delicious and thirst quenching brews! They started out in the Southeast United States but their range is quickly expanding and more and more people are finding out about them. Terrapin Beer Co. currently has 7 year round beers, four seasonal session ales and a dozen or more special beers and projects that appear from time to time. My favorite beer from them, ‘Hopsecutioner’, is an IPA with a hoppy flavor that basically punches ya right in the face, in all the right ways.
I emailed the Terrapin Beer Co.’s PR specialist Leah Kuck and was super excited to receive an email back almost immediately, how cool is that? She happily answered my goofy question as to why their company is called Terrapin, the answer I got back was a little different from what I was expecting, I thought maybe a founder had some weird obsession with turtles (coming from someone with weird animal obsessions, this isnt a bad thing!) but no! Actually both founders are some pretty serious Deadheads (followers of the band The Grateful Dead,for any weirdo who didn’t know that) and they got the name from the album Terrapin Station which also features turtles on the album…..pretty sweet yeah?
Even cooler yet is that the artists who draw and design all the turtles for Terrapin Beer Co. Richard Biffle and Chris Pinkerton are artists who have both worked with the Grateful Dead! Boom, I think my brain just exploded. At this point I’m geeking out ok? But it gets even cooler, each year at Philly Beer Week, Terrapin Beer Co. hosts turtle races…yup, that’s right….you can watch actual turtles race to a finish line all while sipping on a cold beer (when I die, I sincerely hope this is what heaven is like). They also work with the Turtle Alliance on fundraisers, I’ll include a link to the Turtle Alliance at the bottom because that is one cool organization that deserves some more attention.
But what is a terrapin? As per usual, I like to start with the dictionary definition and work my way forward, according to the dictionary a terrapin is a “small edible turtle with lozenge-shaped markings on its shell, found in coastal marshes of the eastern US.” Ugh, that whole thing made me a little uncomfortable ‘edible?’ ‘lozenge-shaped?’….wtf? And pretty unhelpful, no surprise. Turns out it really depends on where you come from, people in Europe define terrapin a little differently than us in the US, and don’t even get me started on the Australians……just kidding….but really, it makes it ten times more confusing. The best way I can sum it up is, all terrapins are turtles, but not all turtles are terrapins……but in the US, you can kind of use the term turtle and terrapin interchangeably. You can even throw tortoises into the mix….what the hell is the difference? I’m going to do my best, and use lot of pictures to try to make this easier, and forgive me for any mistakes as sometimes it’s not so easily defined.
This photo is a tortoise. They are strictly land critters and have big flat, unwebbed feet. This big dude aint going swimming any time soon, he’d sink faster than you can say “tortoises arent aquatic, please don’t throw me into the ocean.”
This is a turtle. See the flippers? They live in the ocean and only really come out of the water to drag themselves up onto shore to lay eggs. Strictly aquatic.
And this, is a turtle/terrapin whatever the hell you call it based on where you live. See how they kind of have a combo of the two photos above? They have feet instead of flippers, but the feet are webbed. They spend equal amounts of time on land and in the water. Now some people define terrapins as living in brackish water only (brackish is a mixture of salt and fresh water, think rivers and swamps that meet up with the ocean). Terrapins also hibernate in burrows dug into the mud banks of rivers when the temperature dips below 50 degrees fahrenheit (I do the same, just not usually in a mud filled hole on the side of a river bank, but hey…to each their own.)
I hope this helped clear up a little confusion, or at the very least made you want to go out and try a beer from Terrapin Beer Co., trust me….after trying to figure out the difference between a turtle and a terrapin, I could use a stiff drink as well.
Many thanks goes out to:
Leah Kuck, social media and PR specialist at http://www.terrapinbeer.com
And please take some time to check out the Turtle Survival Alliance, doing damn good work all across the world for turtles! (or terrapins…whatever, I’m still confused) But honestly, they are a huge proponent of turtle conservation, and our little shelled friends need all the help they can get! http://www.turtlesurvival.org/