AboutTaylor Laabs, Author at PorchDrinking.com
“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.
Chicago’s Maplewood Brewery & Distillery has produced excellent beers and spirits from their quaint brewpub since 2014. Their 10BBL and 250L Kothe hybrid brewhouse is easily viewed from one of several plush chairs that adorns their always-popular “Lounge” space that looks into the brewhouse through several large windows. With beers like Son of Juice IPA, Fat Pug Oatmeal Milk Stout and Charlatan Pale Ale, lines to get into the Maplewood Lounge are frequent and long—especially on a nice Saturday. Although the in-person bar visits have stopped (for now) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maplewood’s popularity within its Logan Square and larger Chicago craft beer community remains. To find out more about what makes the small but mighty operation hum, how Maplewood has adjusted its business to current times and what comes next, we asked Co-Owner and Head Brewer Adam Cieslak five questions.
The beauty of craft beer is in how intensely local it feels. Supporting your local brewery means supporting your city. While many breweries expand and grow in distribution, there’s something unique and familiar about drinking a beer that’s brewed close to you. With unique names and labels, breweries across the country lean into this understanding of what it means to be fiercely local. Illinois’ largest independently-owned brewery, Revolution Brewing, is interwoven into the tapestry of Chicago’s rich beer scene. Now, it’s going one step farther with the release of its City Series packaging refresh, which pairs iconic images of Chicago with some Revolution’s most popular session beers.
While breweries typically serve as an important third space during normal times, they have had to readjust their visions and priorities over the past few months to better reflect our current reality. As breweries continue to adjust their sales strategies towards to-go and delivery purchases, they also continue to find ways to give back to the communities they serve. Deschutes Brewery’s Pay it Forward Sixer program is just one example of this.
Easter will be different this year. While Easter mass, celebrations and social gatherings will all-but be cancelled due to current social distancing guidelines, this time of the year still gives you an opportunity to stock up on sugary sweets and decadent chocolate during your weekly grocery run. With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to pull together a list of six beers perfect for an Easter basket (or barrel) that works from sweet and tart to stout and savory. Instead of SweeTarts, Reese’s Eggs and Peep’s, you get milk stout, lambic-styles, chocolate porters and more. Here’s our Ultimate 6er of beers to stock in your Easter basket this year.
For many sports fanatics, myself included, the one event we have to look forward to in the near future is the NFL Draft. The NFL canceled the event in Las Vegas but is still committed to doing the draft virtually. Each NFL team will operate digitally and adhere to the appropriate social distancing guidelines from their selected remote locations, as team facilities are closed as well. As teams work tirelessly on their draft boards, they now have to plan for an added variable: Where do we host our draft headquarters? Thankfully, the decision was easy for the New Orleans Saints, whose owner, Gayle Benson, also happens to own Dixie Beer. Putting the two together made sense.
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.