AboutTaylor Laabs, Author at PorchDrinking.com
In a year that feels like it will never end, waiting almost a decade must feel like an eternity. Yet, some things are worth the wait. Case in point: the return of Pipeworks Brewing Co.’s Pastrami on Rye, which returns this month with a fun twist: a collaboration with local Chicago pastrami staple Manny’s Deli. First brewed in 2010, the eclectic ale is back again in 2020, thanks in small part to the beer-focused musings of one of our own writers: Mike Zoller (aka Instagram’s @ChicagoBeer) and the creative, collaborative spirit of two local Chicago businesses. Here are the details on what Chicago beer lovers can expect for the return of Pastrami on Rye.
Breweries making beer-adjacent offerings is nothing new, particularly when you look at the rapid influx of new hard seltzer and cannabis-focused offerings produced by breweries across the country. One brewery that has always leaned hard into the cannabis-friendly market is Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company, thanks to their very “dank” and not-so-subliminal 420 IPA brand. Consequently, SweetWater was recently acquired for $300 million by the global cannabis company, Aphria. Amidst the rapid legalization of cannabis across the country and a growing sector of drinkers interested in cannabis-forward beverages, the possibilities for the expansion of the 420 brand and the introduction of new products are flush, which makes the new partnership a solid match. To learn more about what comes next for the brewery and for the 420 brand in particular, we asked Brian Miesieski, VP of Marketing, SweetWater Brewing Company, 5 questions…
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has built their brand around off-centered beers. While their IPA often drives consistency in their portfolio, it’s the consistent addition of adventurous new offerings that keep their brand fresh.
The brewery’s latest, seasonally-inspired addition is Campfire Amplifier, a 6.5% ABV milk Stout brewed with marshmallows, graham crackers, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, Madagascar vanilla beans and a dose of smoked malt. Built to invoke the timeless memories of roasting s’mores over an open campfire, this beer is an ambitious undertaking that appeals to fall flannel-lovers and craft beer nerds alike.
One thing that has remained consistent this year in the world of craft beer is the tried and true cadence of much-anticipated seasonal beer releases. While spring, summer and fall releases might be more frequent, a few special beers are released in the build up leading up to Christmas. Great Lakes Brewing Co‘s Christmas Ale, from the OG out of Cleveland, is one of those beers.
Few things are normal this year. The pandemic has even brought the time-honored, shopper-splurging tradition of Black Friday into doubt. One ritual that has remained consistent, and increased in many ways, is online shopping. So, luckily, Amazon Prime Day remains mostly unchanged this year.
Happening October 13-14, Prime Day offers shoppers a bunch of random deals, some truly odd offerings and a select few good values. Still, it’s fun to browse around and see if you can catch a purchase high getting 20% off a voice-enabled tech item you’ll use sparingly. Similarly, browsing your local bottle shop can often be more about the experience than the outcome. So, we pulled together a list of the five typical items you might encounter on Prime Day, alongside their beer comparison.
New Belgium Brewing Voodoo Ranger IPA series continues to generate acclaim and demand due to its constant pursuit of variety and novelty. Alongside the original IPA, Voodoo Ranger’s year-round lineup boasts an Imperial IPA and two hazy-focused versions (American Haze and Juicy Haze). But the variants that consistently generate buzz are the new IPAs New Belgium releases three times during the year as part of its Rotating IPA series. Releases like Voodoo Ranger Starship IPA have made the Rotating IPA series New Belgium’s fifth best-selling brand overall. The latest edition provides a less-than-subtle nod to the upcoming presidential election, with New Belgium asking beer fans to #VoteVoodoo by casting their vote for either Agent 77 Voodoo Ranger IPA or Captain Dynamite Voodoo Ranger IPA by September 30.
“Bring back Pinner.” It’s a sentiment shared by Oskar Blues Brewery’s biggest fans and casual beer drinkers alike. The pro-Pinner cries have spammed many an Oskar Blues’ Facebook and Instagram comment sections since it was discontinued back in summer of 2019. Pinner’s loyal following come from the beer’s ability to deliver vibrant pineapple and berry flavors with a bit of resinous hop bite in an easy-to-approach session IPA. Now, Oskar Blues’ fan-favorite session IPA, first introduced in 2014, is back by popular demand and public support, as part of the new Pack-O-Bliss Mixed Pack. Here’s a look at what Pinner fans can expect from the comeback of the classic, along with what’s new from Oskar Blues that could become cult favorites down the road.
The combination of coffee and beer continues to drive interest and sales from consumers, whether that’s through a barrel-aged stout, IPA, Porter or anything in-between. While many breweries brew one-off releases that feature local roasteries, Boston’s Harpoon Brewery continues to take things a step further with in its ongoing Dunkin’ Donuts coffee-focused collaboration. What started as a partnership capitalizing on Boston-proximity and community quickly morphed into a headline-making co-branded beer line, which is now generating considerable buzz with the announcement of the Dunkin’ Dozen 12-pack collaboration.
While the actual Oktoberfest celebration in Munich, Germany, is canceled, Festbiers that celebrate the famous Bavarian tradition continue to pop-up on local store shelves across America. While some people may complain of an increasingly aggressive seasonal creep, I’m just happy to have a crisp Festbier in-hand to celebrate the latter stages of summer. While my ticket to Munich may be refunded and I won’t be donning lederhosen and dancing on tables — at least not this year — I still plan to celebrate Oktoberfest from my own home. To find out how others are getting into the spirit of the beer season and to offer tips on how to celebrate Oktoberfest while maintaining social distancing, I asked the brewers.
Adaptability is vital for any business to succeed. Adapt to the needs of your customers, supply, market trends, and everything in between. In 2020, the need for brewers to adapt is more pronounced than ever due to the ongoing pandemic and the numerous business continuity problems it presents. One brewer that continues to show its expertise in adaptation is Austin Beerworks, who continue to use their voice and platform to make a difference in the Texas beer scene.
The amount of different beer styles you’ll see on shelves at your local convenience store has exploded over the past decade. While IPAs, Pilsners and Stouts dominate shelf space, the consumer’s quest for the odd continues to push brewers to make even more outlandish offerings. Fruited sours with enough fruit purée to fill a blender. Pastry stouts that load up on sugary sweetness and eyebrow-raising adjuncts. While these newer styles might draw the hype of beer fans and secondary trading markets, they’re not for me. However, there is one beer style that I’m consistently drawn to that does feature an outlandish ingredient—pistachios. Specifically, the Pistachio Cream Ale, one of my consistently favorite beer styles to drink regardless of time or season.
This has been an incredibly tumultuous year for the craft beer industry. Alongside the obvious impacts of the pandemic, craft brewers across the nation also have to deal with an increasingly complex drinking audience and consistently fierce competition from both local and macro competitors. To assess the current state of the industry, the Brewers Association’s Bart Watson conducted his annual midyear survey to get a read on craft beer’s performance to date, the ever-growing list of challenges and maybe a fleeting slice of optimism for an industry that has been brutally impacted by the pandemic. Here are three main takeaways from Watson’s report.
NBA Bubble Beers? Deschutes Brewery Debuts New Rip City Lager to Cheer on Portland Trailblazers RemotelyJuly 29, 2020 | Taylor Laabs
The NBA’s ambitious quarantine “bubble” has delivered promising results so far in its attempts of preventing the spread of COVID-19 among NBA teams and their personnel. The hope is that the bubble can hold a brief resumption of the regular season, which starts Thursday, along with a full playoff to follow that eventually crowns a champion. One of the teams competing for the title is the Portland Trailblazers, who resume their regular season on Friday. In an effort to support their local team remotely, Bend, Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery is releasing the affectionately names Rip City Lager, so fans of the Blazers across the nation can remotely unite with a common, easy-drinking beer in-hand.
The pandemic has had a drastic impact on the drinking habits of many Americans, myself included. While I still indulge on the weekends, I’ve also developed a new craving for lighter, better-for-you options that can be consumed guilt-free throughout the week. Spiked kombucha from the likes of Luna Bay Booch and Jiant Kombucha are frequently found in my fridge, along with some new non-alcoholic offerings. While California’s Athletic Brewing might draw the most headlines for their non-alcoholic (NA) beer lineup, Californian counterpart Surreal Brewing has generated plaudits of its own thanks to the likes of Juicy Mavs NA Hazy IPA.
Flagship beers are the lifeblood of any successful craft brewery. They provide sales consistency and additional sales points through variant releases that are familiar to the consumers, yet introduce new SKUs throughout the calendar year. New Holland Brewing’s cash-cow remains their Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout line, a decadently strong and barrel-forward beer that continues to generate acclaim for the Michigan-based brewery. Amidst a reimagining of the New Holland brand, the Dragon’s Milk brand continues to quietly hum along, generating positive sales year over year, thanks to the success of the original Stout and the popularity of new, buzzed-about variants.
The craft beer industry has diligently adapted taprooms, business processes and safety protocols to better serve patrons and adhere to current safety guidelines caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Welcoming patrons back to drink outdoors (and, in some states, indoors) at a brewery’s location is a momentous task that cannot be understated. Being permitted to once again drink beer on-draft during Chicago’s Phase 3 and 4 reopenings has let some of Chicago’s beer drinkers experience a sense of cautious normalcy. One area of the craft beer scene that would typically draw crowds—and headaches—is a much-hyped beer release, like Revolution Brewing’s release of their latest Cafe Deth variant, Supermassive Cafe Deth. What does a beer release look like in the new normal? How do you execute one both safely and effectively? To find out, we asked Illinois’ largest independent brewer about how the release went.
Austin, Texas’ Jester King Brewery is many things to many people—it’s an esteemed farmhouse brewery, popular community gathering space, a bustling farm with pet goats and more. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced breweries across the nation to readjust their business models, the popular brewer was well-positioned to adjust in unique ways gives its business flexibility and available acres of Texas farmland. The result is Jester King Reimagined, a veritable Disney Land of Drinking that promises patrons several unique outdoor spaces to indulge in an array of Jester King’s tasty spontaneously-fermented and mixed culture beers, whilst also adhering to current CDC and social distancing protocols. Since opening May 29, the new outdoor drinking concept has been a hit with drinkers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
The passing of Memorial Day signals the start of yet another summer and another period of delicious seasonal craft beer offerings. While canned lagers, mostly in the Macro-format, still reign supreme in any cooler or patio session for many, craft breweries across the nation continue to churn out a bevy of light, easy-drinking and flavor-forward sessionable offerings that appeal to any summertime day-drinking session. Chicago’s passion for beer is equally matched by its passion to get the most out of the few warm summer months that make the onslaught of freezing temperatures and cold worthwhile. As the city cautiously reopens its parks and outdoor spaces in the coming days, here are six Chicago sippers available in cans that you can comfortably drink from your home or from an appropriate social distance outside on a nice summer’s day.
Barrel-aged and blended beer releases aren’t just for winter months and colder temperatures. The dark liquid, bourbon barrels and boozy aftertastes of October through December releases give way to lighter colors, wine barrels and fruit-forward flavor offerings found in April and May. Such is the case for Deschutes Brewery, which has staked its fall and winter barrel-aging claim thanks to the likes of the popular The Abyss Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout. The Bend, Oregon brewery also recently announced the release of two new additions to their Small Batch Reserve series for spring: Tumalo Kriek and The Ages 2020. Both are available in 500 mL bottles and both highlight warm weather, seasonal ingredients: cherries in Tumalo and pears in The Ages. Deschutes was kind enough to send a bottle of each my way. With extra time on my hands, I really got to enjoy both of these beers. Here are my thoughts.
Current social distancing and shelter-in-place orders across the country have left bar stools empty and taps dry. On-premises sales of draft beer have all but halted, leaving millions of gallons of beer undrank. Even worse, the lack of demand for future kegged beer has left thousands of breweries with untapped kegs, which will slowly go bad. This unfortunate consequence has led breweries across the nation to dump their beer. However, creative thinking has presented an alternative use: turn the unused beer into hand sanitizer. This was the case for Chicago’s Koval Distillery, which partnered with local breweries to create and donate 500 gallons of beer-made hand sanitizer to community organizations in need.