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AboutTaylor Laabs – 2/9 – PorchDrinking.com

Taylor Laabs

Taylor Laabs

Posts By Taylor Laabs

An Authentic German Beer Fest in Minnesota: How Schell’s Bock Fest Came to Be

February 26, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 3 min

August Schell Brewing Company, now named Schell’s Brewery, is the second oldest family-owned brewery in the nation. Founded in 1860 by German immigrant August Schell, the brewery is rich in German tradition. Stationed in the historic town of New Ulm, MN, Schell’s has weathered the storms of Prohibition and today’s ever-changing craft beer market thanks to staples like Grain Belt Premium. But it’s one of its seasonals that often gets the most attention due to the festival that celebrates it. First started in 1987, Schell’s Bock Fest celebration is an event as rich in tradition as the brewery itself. Here’s what you need to know about the event, which takes place on March 2, 2019 from 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at Schell’s Brewing Company.

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A Forever Flagship: Larry Bell Talks about Two Hearted and What Comes Next

February 22, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 4 min

To appreciate the many wild branches of today’s craft beer industry in America, one must take note of its roots. There are few bigger pillars in the American brewing industry than Larry Bell, the founder of Bell’s Brewery. What started as a humble homebrew supply store in the ‘80s has turned into a craft brewing powerhouse that remains a foundational stitch of the modern brewing fabric. A testament to the Michigan brewer’s impact is the sustained success of Two Hearted IPA. Alongside their Oberon Wheat Ale, the unassuming IPA with a fish on the green-hued label is a beer that helped modernize the craft beer scene and helped establish the IPA trend in America. PorchDrinking sat down with Bell’s founder Larry Bell to learn more about the history of the flagship and what comes next.

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5 Questions With… Odell Brewing Co.’s Agronomist, Scott Dorsch

February 19, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 4 min

How do you stand out in the ultra-competitive IPA market? Maybe you go the hazy route; maybe you go with something double or triple-hopped, or maybe you just make a damn good single-hop IPA. That’s the inspiration behind Odell Brewing Company’s Wolf Picker IPA series, which shines a light on a new hop in each iteration.

The 2019 Wolf Picker features the new Oregon-grown Strata hop and is the first of the series to debut in cans. Sourcing unique hops that stand out amongst the competition is a tough job, but it’s one that Odell’s agronomist Scott Dorsch relishes. A typical agronomist role requires the person to be an expert in the science of soil management and crop production, but it takes on a bit of a new meaning when you work at a craft brewery. We asked Dorsch five questions about his career in agronomy, why he chose Strata for the latest Wolf Picker and what excites him about the hop marketplace in 2019.

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How Chicago’s Logan Square Neighborhood Became a Craft Brewing Hotbed

February 15, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 5 min

Chicago beer drinkers are spoiled with the multitude of taproom options available to them throughout the city. With more breweries than any other city, it only makes sense that there are numerous spots where patrons can leisurely stroll from one brewery to the next in just a few minutes. Up north in Ravenswood, there is the Malt Row which boasts the likes of Half Acre, Spiteful, Begyle and Dovetail Brewing. To the west is the Chicago Brewing District, which includes award-winners like On Tour, Great Central Brewing Co. and more. Smack dab in the middle (okay, somewhat close to the middle) of these two vibrant brewing neighborhoods is Logan Square, which has quickly become one of the hottest brewing locations in the nation, with a growing list of breweries calling the unique neighborhood home.

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Perfect Timing: How the New Dogfish Head + Brouwerij Rodenbach Partnership Came to Be

February 7, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 2 min

Brewers collaborate with each other all the time. The results are usually pretty good and often buzzworthy. Then, there are those collaborations that make your eyes light up and your tastebuds salivate at the thought of two sour beer-brewing masterminds coming together to create something truly special that is primed to set the market ablaze – if executed properly. The new international collaboration between Delaware-based Dogfish Head and Belgium sour stalwart Brouwerij Rodenbach has the potential to do just that.

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Hazy Inspiration from Different Sources: How Bell’s and Surly Created Their New Hazy IPAs

February 5, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 3 min

The Hazy IPA beer-style is primed for a big 2019. Amidst GABF category recognition and consumer demand, every brewer aimed at appealing to today’s beer consumer has made the creation of a Hazy IPA or some variety of it a mandate on their brew list. The trend has become an unavoidable one for old and new brewers alike, from almost every region. What started as a brewing style that was strictly New England-style in nature has bounced from coast and coast and is now getting a unique Midwesterner spin from two of the Midwest’s best IPA creators: Bell’s Brewery and Surly Brewing Co. Both have built their business on a flagship IPA that centers around bitter hops and a strong malt bill (Two Hearted and Furious, respectively). Now, both are using their IPA experience and some unique forms of inspiration in the creation of their new, nationally-distributed hazy IPAs: Bell’s Official and Surly One Man Mosh Pit. Here are the details. Read More

New Holland Expands the Dragon’s Milk Family with New Lower ABV Offering

February 1, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 2 min

In the dead of winter, seasoned beer drinkers often reach for the high-ABV behemoths that warm their insides. Hearty barrel-aged stouts like New Holland Brewing’s Dragon’s Milk and its many Reserve variants have often been the beer of choice for such an occasion. And yet, one can only have so many viscous, flavor-packed stouts before keeling over and ceding to lighter, more approachable options. New Holland knew this and decided to make an adventurous change to their hallmark brand, introducing Dragon’s Milk White, a bourbon barrel-aged white stout that stands firm at 6% ABV. We asked the brewery about the new beer and what consumers should expect from a barrel-aged offering that comes in on the lighter side – both in color and in alcohol content.

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5 Questions with New Belgium’s R&D Brewer, Ross Koenigs

January 29, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 4 min

Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company has been around for a long time (more than 25 years) and its beer portfolio has changed and adapted as the craft beer market grew up. While their excellent sour beer program and iconic Fat Tire Amber Ale remain staples of their lineup, New Belgium has made some interesting shifts in their IPA portfolio over the past few years to appeal to a younger, more adventurous and IPA-crazed beer drinking demographic. New Belgium retired their Ranger IPA in 2017 but the ethos of that brand now lives on in their popular Voodoo Ranger IPA lineup.

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Lagunitas Adapts its Packaging to Evolve its IPA Portfolio

January 24, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 2 min

Lagunitas Brewing Co. is a massive brewery with a global reach. Yet, they still remain nimble enough to adapt to the changing drinking preferences of today’s craft beer consumers. From draft, to bottles, to cans, the preferred drinking vessel for many in America has changed over the past decade. Largely because beer became more intertwined with the unplanned outings and weekend activities of enthusiasts. With an eye on appealing to consumers on-the-go and in the midst of day-drinking activities, Lagunitas has decided to make two drastic updates to their canning portfolio. Their bellwether Lagunitas IPA arrives in 19.2oz stovepipes and sessionable DayTime IPA comes to 12oz cans. We asked Lagunitas’ Communications Director, Karen Hamilton, about the news.

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Chicago Quick Sips | Jan. 22 Chicago Beer News & Events

January 21, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 1 min

Quick Sips is our way of highlighting beer events, tap takeovers and other notable beer news around the city of Chicago. If you’d like to submit something to be included in the next Quick Sips, please email us at [email protected].

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An Extended Summer: The Gose’s Evolution into a Year-Long Staple

January 18, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 5 min

It’s the dead of winter and I’m not drinking a burly, barrel-aged stout – or even an IPA. Instead, I’ve cracked open a can of Creature Comforts’ Tritonia Gose. Was I envisioning a beach on some far off island? Or a sweltering summer sun? Nope, I just wanted something light and flavorful that wasn’t a lager and wouldn’t weigh me down like some of the heavier stouts and barleywines I’ve had on winter night’s past; and I’m not alone in this sentiment.

Much like the rise of spiked seltzer, the lighter styles of beer, namely session sours such as gose ale, are experiencing a bit of a renaissance this days as folks are beginning to choose tart and tangy beers for their ability to bridge the gap between calorie-conscious and flavor-packed. IPAs aren’t going away – to the contrary even. However, many breweries have begun to appreciate the gose’s spot in giving their beer lineup a bit of balance along with a burst of new flavors. For more insight into the growing popularity of the style over the past few years, I asked several breweries making some of the best gose-style ales in the nation to get their thoughts.

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Metropolitan Brewing Celebrates 10 Years of Business in the Increasingly Competitive Chicago Market

January 17, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 2 min

Chicago and the surrounding area are currently home to the most breweries in the nation. It’s an especially impressive stat when you realize that the market hasn’t really been around for that long. Being able to create a successful brewery during the early growth period of the Chicago market and then stay equally successful amongst growing competition across every neighborhood in the city is an impressive feat that deserves a bit of praise. It’s not easy, but Metropolitan Brewing has managed to do it, which is why their upcoming 10 Year Anniversary celebration this Saturday is so exciting.

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Ask the Experts | How to Properly Return a Beer

January 16, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 3 min

If you’ve drank enough beer, you’ve probably found yourself in this situation. It’s an unfortunate experience that leads to apprehensiveness among patrons and bar owners: how do you handle the conversation when there is something clearly off with your beer? With January being the biggest month for gift returns, I thought it might make sense to take a look at how and why patrons should return a beer to their bartender or bottle shop manager. It’s not a cheery subject, but common sense from both sides can lead to a positive outcome that betters the drinking experience of the patron and the drinking relationship between the patron and beer purveyor. To help provide a full perspective on the issue, I asked craft beer bar owners and craft brewers alike to gather their insight. Here is what they said.

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Firestone Walker Expands its National IPA Profile with Release of New Mind Haze IPA

January 10, 2019 | Avg. Reading Time: 2 min

“We’re finally ready do a hazy IPA the Firestone way.” Those were the words from Firestone Walker brewmaster Matt Brynildson in this week’s press release. While 2018 created the initial haze craze, 2019 represents the second wave of the trend, with more major players like California’s Firestone Walker Brewing Co. entering the fray with their new Mind Haze hazy IPA.

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The Longer the Government Shutdown Goes On, the Bigger Problem it Becomes for Craft Brewers

January 8, 2019 | 1 Avg. Reading Time: 2 min

The government shutdown is now in its third week due to the debate over a border wall and has resulted in noted consequences for federal workers, government entities and general governmental functions. While many are more pressing, perhaps the one many craft beer fans should keep an eye on is how it impacts the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

One of TTB’s functions is approving new beer labels, licenses and ingredients that are vital to the continued business of any craft brewer, winery or distiller. As long as the government keeps its doors shut, the TTB does too, which means any meaningful innovation or initiative from craft brewers come to a grinding halt as the government body will not “review or approve any new submissions” during the shutdown.  Here are some of the major implications if the government decides to extend the shutdown further.

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PorchDrinking’s Best in Beer 2018 | Chicago Metro Region

December 28, 2018 | Avg. Reading Time: 3 min

What a year for Chicago (and it’s neighboring suburbs). Amid winning a bevy of medals from high-profile events like GABF and FOBAB, the Windy City also took home the title for most breweries (167) within the metro region – an impressive feat indeed. With so many breweries making so many amazing beers, it’s safe to say Chicago beer drinkers were more than spoiled this year as they indulged in some of the best barrel-aged stouts and hazy IPAs in the U.S.

PorchDrinking’s Chicago crew diligently drank through many amazing beers this year. Some wowed us, others impressed with their creativity and several just made us warm and fuzzy.

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Ultimate 6er | 6 Beers to Leave Out for Santa Claus

December 19, 2018 | Avg. Reading Time: 4 min

Thanks to the amazing array of barrel-aged brews and hearty ales available in December, many of us are growing bellies that even the man at the North Pole would be proud of. While many of us don our own red hats and honor the big man with our own gift-giving exploits, it feels like Santa might be extra stressed this year for a myriad of people-produced reasons. I’m sure Santa still appreciates a good batch of cookies and a tall glass of milk, but this year, I think Mr. Claus might appreciate something with more of a bite to quell his nerves during the big night. Here’s a look at six beers that are sure to put you on the nice list with Santa Claus this year.

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Dogfish Head Stretches its Creative Roots with New Alternate Takes Whiskey Series

December 18, 2018 | Avg. Reading Time: 3 min

Delaware-based Dogfish Head is anything but timid when it comes to their product. From beers made with space rocks to colorful creations that combine beer and wine, the brewery most known for their intensely-hopped IPAs has made it a point to expand their creative profile beyond just beer into the lucrative distilling space. After experimenting with small batches of spirits in as early as 2002, Dogfish put their foot in the ground in 2015 with the launch of their new distillery which creates 100 percent scratch-made gin, whiskey, rum and vodka at their Milton, DE location. Now, the ambitious brewery and distiller is taking things one step further with the launch of their Alternate Takes spirits program that aims to shake up the traditional liquor you see on your local liquor store shelves.

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Chicago Quick Sips | Dec. 3 Chicago Beer News & Events

December 3, 2018 | Avg. Reading Time: 2 min

Quick Sips is our way of highlighting beer events, tap takeovers and other notable beer news around the city of Chicago. If you’d like to submit something to be included in the next Quick Sips, please email us at [email protected].

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How Craft Brewers Use Their Influence to Help Out Man’s Best Friend

November 30, 2018 | Avg. Reading Time: 4 min

Tis the season for Christmas cheer, hearty beer and giving back to those in need. Craft brewers connect to their local communities—and beyond—not only through their beer but also their charitable acts and community outreach. Look no farther than the 1,000+ breweries who have teamed up with Sierra Nevada to brew beer to aid in the Campfire recovery. Brewing beer for good or for a purpose gives craft brewers the ability to create actual change in their communities and for causes that they care about, which extends far past just human-to-human outreach.

Interweaving the love of their four-legged friends into business activity has become a standard practice for breweries across the U.S. While many breweries employ cats to help in pest control, even more advocate for man’s best friend through unique beers, adoption programs and charitable initiatives that come from breweries who have a particular passion for the dogs in their lives. Here’s a look at how several craft brewers embrace and spread the love of their favorite furry friends.  

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