Dustin Watts, Terrapin's second employee, promoted to brewery president

Dustin Watts, the longtime vice president of marketing and sales at Terrapin Beer Co., today was named president of the Athens, Ga.-based brewery, effective Sept. 1.

Watts, 37, joined the brewery in 2003 as its second employee, and has helped guide it through an era of massive change, growth and expansion that included its sale to MillerCoors.

“I’m super excited about the opportunity to continue to grow the Terrapin brand and the Terrapin tribe,” Watts said. “From every brand we’ve released and every market we’ve opened, I’ve been a part of it, and I’m looking forward to taking the company to the next level.”

Watts will replace Frank Skorzewski, who will retire. He’ll take over a brand coming off its best year ever, helped by expansion into five new states, as well as continued strength in its home state. Sales are off to a hot start in 2018, up 38.2 percent in dollars on a 38.5 percent jump in volume, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data year-to-date through April 28.

Watts’ promotion “for me was a no-brainer,” said Terrapin co-founder and brewmaster Spike Buckowski. “Dustin has been bleeding Terrapin colors for 16 years now. He knows us very well, and there’s no one more qualified for this role.”

The brewery, founded in 2002, today is one of the largest in the Southeast, known primarily for its hop-forward IPAs and eccentric packaging that features its namesake terrapin, a type of turtle. After expanding into Wisconsin and Michigan in recent months, the brand is now distributed in 18 states. It operates a taproom in its hometown as well as the Terrapin ATL Brew Lab at the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park in Atlanta. After a recent expansion, “we’re brewing the best beer we’ve ever brewed,” Buckowski said.

Although volume is led by its growing flagship Hopsecutioner, a copper-colored IPA with notes of pine and citrus, the brand’s three fastest-growing beers are Hi-5, a citrus-forward California-style IPA brewed with five types of hops (up 63.5 percent year-to-date); RecreationAle, a light-bodied, sessionable IPA (up 60.1 percent); and Luau Krunkles, a passionfruit, orange and guava IPA that was released as a stand-alone beer last fall.

“While we’re seeing a lot of nice growth across our portfolio … Luau is the one beer that’s really about to go crazy. The way I see things trending here, as soon as it gets more distribution, we’re going to be in a mode of hold on tight,” Watts said. For the remainder of 2018, Watts said, the Terrapin team is focused on continuing to solidify its business in Georgia and “continue planting seeds for long-term growth in our new markets.”

Watts will spend the next several months alongside Skorzewski, who will remain with the company through the end of the year in a limited capacity to assist with the transition. Watts called Skorzewski his “mentor in both life and business,” and “an unbelievable asset and a key part of Terrapin’s long-term growth.”

Skorzewski was promoted to president of the company in July 2016 when MillerCoors took a majority stake in Terrapin. Previously the company’s chief financial officer, Skorzewski oversaw Terrapin’s integration into Tenth and Blake, the MillerCoors craft and import division.

The South Carolina native did “an amazing job” leading the company to “smart growth,” Tenth and Blake President Pete Marino said in a note to employees. “We’ll miss Frank, but we won’t miss a beat” with the appointment of Watts, who “has been one of the most-prominent faces of the brewery with distributors, retailers and beer drinkers.”