AboutTaylor Laabs – PorchDrinking.com
Now more than ever, the craft beer industry needs good news One bright light in this period of uncertainty comes from America’s oldest brewery, D.G. Yuengling & Son, which recently celebrated International Women’s Day with the announcement of the Yuengling Women in Brewing Scholarship Program for spring 2020. The goal of the scholarship, a collaborative effort between Yuengling and the Pink Boots Society, is to advance the careers of female brewers in the U.S through educational opportunities. The scholarship also reflects Yuengling’s unique place in today’s brewing industry: Led by Jennifer Yuengling, vice president of operations and 6th generation family member, the D.G. Yuengling & Son of today is comprised of the brewery’s first generation of all-female leadership.
The art of brewing beer varies by region, brewer and brewing style. Many brewers find their niche in one style or art-form, craft their beer to perfection and become famous for it. That’s the case for esteemed Rodenbach Brewery in Roeselare, Belgium, which brews oak foeder-aged sour Ales that have led the way for the category for almost two centuries. Their most popular offering is the simply named Rodenbach Classic, a standard-bearer Flanders red Ale that effuses the precision and expertise of Rodenbach’s master blenders and brewers.
Perhaps Rodenbach’s most well-known brewer is Rudi Ghequire. A Rodenbach brewmaster since 1982, Ghequire has walked the hallways in their massive foeder-filled brewhouse more times than he can count. Foeders are special to Rodenbach and they are special to Ghequire. Yet, many beer drinkers, myself included, are not fully aware of the magic of foeder-aged beers, the flavors that blending foeder-aged beers creates and the expertise needed to delicately create these offerings. To find out more about foeders and what makes Rodenbach’s foeder program special, I asked Ghequire five questions.
Dogfish Head Brewery continues to be one of my favorite breweries in the country due to their unrelenting pursuit of brewing daring beers that challenge and excite the average beer lover. Sometimes, these beers fall flat and the flavor notes don’t mesh like they should, but most times, they create something new and inventive that makes me take notice. Their newest offering, Vibrant P’Ocean, which was done in collaboration with the nearly two centuries old Brouwerij Rodenbach, falls into the latter category.
The new blended Sour Ale combines the mastery of both breweries in pursuit of a drinking experience that feels familiar and emblematic of two breweries separated by thousands of miles. Vibrant P’Ocean comes in at 4.7% ABV and is composed of a two-year, foeder-aged sour from Rodenbach mixed with a Dogfish Head kettle sour brewed with pilsner malt, malted wheat, elderberry, elderflower, sliced lemons and Belgian fleur-de-sel. I was lucky enough to get a few cans of this new beer from Dogfish Head recently – here are my thoughts.
Barrel-aged stouts dominate the Fall and Winter release calendars of many breweries as beer drinkers pine for a hearty, boozy beer that they can settle down with when the temperature drops. One of the familiar additions to these barrel-aged beers is coffee. It can add body, big flavors and huge aromatics that round out the barrel qualities and mellow the ABV burn. While I’m a huge fan of coffee in my boozy stouts, I get equally excited by breweries that look to collaborate with their community coffee purveyor or lighter offerings like lagers, cream ales, and simple stouts. Here are six recent coffee beer releases that fit that billing.
The rapid contortion and contraction of today’s U.S. craft beer markets present opportunities for both brewers young and old to capitalize on the American passion for high-quality beer. While the OGs of American craft beer like Sierra Nevada and Anchor Brewing continue to churn out quality beer, there’s an even older subset of international breweries looking to make their own inroads beyond their traditional Oktoberfest imports.
Collaborations are commonplace across the craft beer industry, but collaborations that bring together breweries from across oceans are special. Back in 2015, Sierra Nevada started its popular annual tradition of collaborating with a German brewery on a traditional Festbier made available across the U.S. The 2019 Festbier came as part of a collaboration with the historic, family-run Bitburger Brewery. Now, the two are back at again with a new collaboration set to release in March: Triple Hop’d Lager.
Chances are, if you’ve perused a liquor store in the past few years you’ve passed a suspiciously sublime skeleton emblazoned on bright cardboard. Much like the aggressive hop bill inside, New Belgium Brewing Company brewed its Voodoo Ranger series to stand out both in flavor and branding. Launched in 2017, the Voodoo Ranger IPA series has quickly become a foundational pillar of the New Belgium portfolio. We asked New Belgium’s Director of Brand Marketing, Kyle Bradshaw, about the growth of the brand, how it has been able to connect so effectively with consumers and what comes next.
From the scenic beer labels and vibrant Instagram posts to the comfortable taproom and flannel merchandise, it’s clear that Maine’s Allagash Brewing Company is fiercely passionate about its city (Portland) and state (Maine). The brewery has become one of the most revered craft beer brands thanks to their thoughtful brewing work, focus on local ingredients and excellent beers. So, when Allagash announced the unveiling of their first-ever certified-organic beer, CrossPath, the industry took notice. While Allagash has brewed with locally-sourced organic ingredients for years, the 100% organic CrossPath represents a true celebration of the Maine-based businesses they routinely source ingredients from.
What a decade it has been for beer drinkers. In 10 years, craft beer went from a bundle of small upstarts to a booming and cutthroat industry that has solidified itself as an important part of social culture. 2019 was a fitting conclusion to a wild decade of beer as the past 12 tumultuous months offered readers and drinkers alike a bevy of perplexing headlines, new beers, exciting new initiatives and cautious optimism for what is to come in 2020. The year offered too many topics, trends and social media flareups to count, but I thought it would be helpful to recap five of the most notable trends I observed this year.
Craft beer’s shift into alternative beverages has been one of the biggest trends of 2019. The most notable addition to many brewing portfolios has been spiked seltzer, which appeals to a new subset of drinkers, expanding the brewery’s revenue stream in the process. Craft breweries rolling out new spiked seltzer lines doesn’t generate the same type of headlines it did earlier this year, but mead spritzer? That’s a different story entirely. With many brewers zigging into seltzer, St. Louis-based Schlafly Beer has decided to zag, unveiling Boomerang Mead Spritzer, a new-age beverage that amplifies Schafly’s desire to differentiate themselves from the brewing competition. To learn more about what inspired Schlafly to delve into mead spritzer, we asked Schlafly Lead Brewer Jared Williamson.
Good things come to those who wait, right? That’s the case for Colorado beer drinkers, who got a chance recently to buy Where I Live, a mixed culture dark sour beer created in collaboration between two of Colorado’s most esteemed brewers: New Belgium Brewing Co. and TRVE Brewing. Made with 100% Colorado-made malt and lavender, Where I Live is unique both in composition and inspiration. The brewers first discussed making this beer during the 2016 GABF, but it wasn’t possible due to regulations that prohibited brewer-to-brewery tax-free transfers of ‘finished’ beer. As fate would have it, a legal loophole that popped up in passed legislation one year later made the blending collaboration possible and Where I Live became a reality. To learn more about how this beer came to be, we asked Andrew Emerton, New Belgium’s Specialty Brand Manager.
Everyone has improperly poured a beer in their life to the grimaces and eye-rolls of their drinking buddies and colleagues. The prime illustrator of a poorly-produced draft beer in any American bar or drinking table is the overwhelming presence of foam that inundates the glass and misbalances the minute equation between liquid and bubble. The copious head of white, quickly-dissipating bubbles – you can call it “dry foam” – is a sure sign that you’re not going to have an ideal drinking experience, regardless of if you’re drinking a Natty Lite or an award-winning IPA. But what if the overwhelming presence of foam was a good thing?
If you’ve had a properly-poured Pilsner Urquell straight from a Pilsner Side-Pour faucet, you’ll know that the presence of wet foam in your pour of a Pilsner is a good thing – and by design. So, what’s the difference between the foam in a typical beer and what is present in a proper pint of Pilsner Urquell? To find out, we asked the historic Czech brewer.
Drink good, feed good? That’s the vision behind Chicago’s first local hard kombucha maker, Luna Bay Booch Co. While Chicago is home to the nation’s most craft breweries per capita, the city’s appetite for lighter alternatives like White Claw and Truly Spiked Seltzer is also clear. So, why not hard kombucha as well? Kombucha continues to increase its popularity in the health and wellness market, especially among younger drinkers, creating a myriad of adjacent business opportunities for courageous thinkers like Luna Bay Booch Co. founders Bridget Connelly and Claire Ridge. The two saw the opportunity to bring hard kombucha, a popular product on the West Coast, to the Midwest by creating a local, Chicago-based brand that targets Chicago drinkers looking for a break from a beer along with those wellness-focused folks looking for a fun, spiked alternative to their favorite antioxidant-laden kombucha beverage. To find out more about the upstart hard kombucha business and what Chicagoans can expect from Luna Bay Booch, PorchDrinking spoke with Bridget.
Surly Brewing’s Furious IPA is one of the most well-known beers in Minnesota. The hazy IPAs, most notably Dreamyard IPA, coming from their Northeast neighbors, Modist Brewing, are some of the most popular in the state. Not to be out-done, Chicago’s Mikerphone Brewing’s musically-inspired IPA and stout releases frequently generate lines around the block. So, when Surly recently brought brewers from Modist and Mikerphone to their brewhouse to make a new collaboration beer, the result had to have been an IPA, right? Wrong. Instead, the latest, and perhaps most adventurous edition of Surly’s BC Small Batch series is Magic Formula for Peace, a coffee stout made with citrus.
Winning something once is tough. Repeating that successful feat is an even tougher task. So, when Cincinnati-based Brink Brewing won GABF gold for “Very Small Brewing Company” for a second consecutive year, a lot of people took notice – myself included. As a young operation, volatility and uncertainty are commonplace. Making good beer, consistently, at a profit, is an arduous task that not many can master. Building a loyal drinking base and gaining accolades for your creations become even more difficult as you try to keep your core business afloat. This is what makes the work of Head Brewer Kelly Montgomery even more impressive. To find out more about the success of their small but stout operation, their reaction to GABF gold, and what comes next, we posed 5 questions to Brink Brewing’s Kelly Montgomery.
Some beers are just meant for certain seasons—or temperatures. While Oktoberfests and pumpkin beers are synonymous with fall weather and football, many other seasonal offerings can get lost in the fray. Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale is a staple of the Delaware brewery’s seasonal lineup, yet it’s a newer, apple pie-inspired cream ale release that might start driving bigger headlines soon. First released last November, Dogfish Head’s Suddenly Comfy Cream Ale is back again with an earlier fall release and a bevy of unique fall flavors that makes it immensely memorable.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is most known for its well-crafted array of sour ales, but it’s Traverse City brewpub location is known for something else. The brewpub is attached to Bowers Harbor Inn, home to upscale restaurant, Mission Table, and gorgeous views of the waterfront. It might also include a haunted spirit. Just in time for Halloween, here’s what you need to know about this Jolly Pumpkin location’s haunted history, which may be one of spookiest brewpub spots in the U.S.
I love IPAs. I also can’t stomach several in one drinking session anymore. The intensity of the flavors and hop-bill typically restricts me to a small pour or one sole can at a time. It’s a common occurrence for many beer drinkers today. Craft brewers continue to push the limits on flavor in IPAs, ramping up the ABV and ingredient list while lowering the drinkability in the process. Every IPA has a place, but I’ve increasingly found that Session IPAs continue to gain more space in my beer fridge than their hoppier counterparts. One new addition that I’m dedicating shelf space to is Oskar Blues’ One-y hazy session IPA.
It’s finally the season for barrel-aged beers. Chicago is spoiled with its options: Revolution’s Deep Wood series kicks off this weekend; Cruz Blanca also has standout offerings – oh, and Begyle won gold for their Barrel-Aged Imperial Pajamas at GABF this year. While the beers get all the glory, the barrels that produce them sometimes get lost in the fray. Ever the creative-types, breweries typically find alternative use cases for these barrels after their primary usage days are past them. To find out how these barrels find new life post-barrel-aging, we asked the breweries.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is an iconic beer brand is steeped in rich tradition. Its malty Pale Ale is a classic while the brewery’s barrel-aged creations, such as its Narwhal Imperial Stout, continue to garner praise year after year. And starting in 2015, the brewery engaged in yet another tradition that’s brought the Sierra Nevada even more attention: Sierra Nevada began partnering with German breweries to brew a seasonal Oktoberfest Märzen made available to U.S. beer drinkers.
Each year’s creation is different; some bold, some spicy, but each notably unique and drinkable. This year, Sierra Nevada partnered with Germany’s Bitburger Brewery on the newest Oktoberfest release, which is now out on shelves. To find out more about this year’s partnership, the proprietary ingredients that went into the brewing process, and what consumers should look for in this Oktoberfest, we asked Sierra Nevada’s Chief Commercial Officer Joe Whitney five questions.