Twenty-one years ago, the Coors Brewing Company released a limited-edition bottle that looked like a baseball bat, right down to a wood grain pattern etched into the glass. It was first available in Tucson, Arizona, so fans arriving for the Colorado Rockies spring training games could get buzzed in the most thematically appropriate way. The bat-shaped bottle was a home run ( get it?), and collectors still sell them for literally tens of dollars on eBay.
It took two decades, but Terrapin Beer Co. is among the breweries that has now one-upped Coors, by putting the baseball bat inside its newest beer.
When the Atlanta Braves play their first home game on Friday night, fans at SunTrust park can get their first sips of Terrapin's Chopsecutioner beer, which was aged on wood chips taken from Mizuno baseball bats. "We brew the Chopsecutioner and after the fermentation we transfer the beer onto the wood chips and then cool the beer down and age it," Terrapin co-founder Brian "Spike" Buckowski told CBS Sports. "There's some waste from bats from when they spin them down or carve them down and that's the product that we use to age the beer." (Mizuno USA is the Official Baseball Gear Partner of the Braves, which probably explains why those bats were selected for the brewing process.)
The Chopsecutioner is described as "a quintessential ballpark beer" with "the same five hops as our heavy hitting Hopsecutioner IPA, but with a lighter body and lower ABV." Those who are familiar with the Athens, Georgia-based brewery might have hangovers named after its 7.3 percent ABV Hopsecutioner. Based on the length of the average major league game—and the fact that Atlanta's average summer temperatures are in the upper 80s—Buckowski decided to make the Chopsecutioner a little less potent, with a more moderate 5.0 percent ABV.
"When I'm sitting in the hot sun watching a baseball game, 7.3 percent alcohol beer is pretty tough, especially if you have a couple," he said.
This isn't the first time that baseball bats have been used in the brewing process. In 2011, Center of the Universe Brewing Co. and Fremont Brewing teamed up to brew 60 barrels of beer that were flavored with Louisville Slugger bats. (Unlike the bat chips used in Chopsecutioner, for this IPA, they used entire bats soaked in the beer for three weeks.) The resulting beer, Homefront IPA, was served at Safeco Field for a handful of Seattle Mariners games that summer.
"I'm not sure if it adds a ton of flavor, but it ties it into baseball and gives it a unique twist," Center of the Universe co-founder and former MLB pitcher Chris Ray told ESPN at the time. "It might add a little bit of flavor, but maple is a hard wood – that's why they use it for bats – so there's not a whole lot of absorbing going on [...] We just thought if it added a little flavor, great. If not, it's a nice story."
It's actually a great story: The proceeds from Ray's beer went to Operation Homefront, a charity that helps military families. In the years since, between nine and 11 craft breweries have participated in an annual collaboration with Center of the Universe to co-produce Homefront IPA, which is still aged with those Sluggers and still supports a different military charity every year.
Back in Atlanta, Chopsecutioner will be available on draft at Terrapin's Brew Lab at SunTrust Park, along with its non-bat-flavored On Deck IPA and Swing Batter Brown Ale.
Your move, Coors.