AboutTaylor Laabs, Author at PorchDrinking.com - Page 5 of 9
Surly Brewing started in a small retail park in Brooklyn Center, MN. After experiencing sustained growth in sales, the brewery expanded to its massive Prospect Park location that now houses a beer hall and shoulders the brunt of its growing, multi-state distribution responsibilities. And while they do offer some unique one-off beers served exclusively at the beer hall, the older Brooklyn Center location gives them even more space to experiment. The culmination of this brewing flexibility is its new BC Small Batch series.
Baseball season is back. And though it may not feel like it in Chicago, I look forward to the warmer months when I get a sit in a plastic seat while watching a ballgame in person – with a beer in-hand. Much like America’s pastime, the venues that typically host baseball games are rooted in tradition, which usually means a heavy dosage of light macro lagers going for anywhere from $8-10. However, several ballparks around Major League Baseball have started to buck this trend by appealing to the new generation of baseball fans who want to buy a craft beer from a local brewer instead of the traditional Budweisers and Miller Lites of the world. Plus, these drinkers expect a higher price point when drinking in a stadium, which means a craft offering can offer similar margins to a macro brew. Here’s a look at six stadiums who are leading the charge by providing a great ballpark-centric craft beer experience to their fans.
With more than 200 breweries within its city limits, Chicago’s brewery scene can be a bit overwhelming for newcomers or tourists visiting the city for a weekend. Thankfully, many breweries have started to take the guess work out of where to visit by joining together to create uniquely branded brewing “neighborhoods” that offer beer drinkers a structured map of several breweries in close proximity to each other. It’s more a branding play than anything, but it does help each brewery in the allotted “district” brand themselves as being part of the collective – adding extra appeal to those who want to make a day out of walking to several spots in one day. The breweries in the Ravenswood neighborhood were the first to pioneer the idea in Chicago, as the adeptly branded “Malt Row” offers drinkers a robust list of unique breweries and beer styles from the likes Dovetail, Begyle and Band of Bohemia, all located within a near mile radius. Now, Chicago’s quickly growing West Side is getting into the picture with the newly created “Chicago Brewing District,” which includes beer giant Goose Island, GABF-winner On Tour Brewing, large contact brewer Great Central Brewing Company, All Rise Brewing and Finch Beer.
Although the American economy has largely enjoyed growth the last several years, portions within the broader picture have been in a state of flux for some time. For macro and micro brewers alike, the current state of aluminum has both micro and macro brewers concerned. A quick peek at the shelves of your local retailer will reveal rows and rows of aluminum cans. 12, 16 and even 19.2 oz cans have been a huge boon for larger craft brewers and macro producers like MillerCoors, offering greater shelf life and added convenience to consumers. But the strategy of putting everything into cans is entering a period of uncertainty due to the recently proposed tariffs and sanctions put in place by President Donald Trump.
While Trump claims the new regulations will help bolster American business, small to regional sized brewers like WeldWerks and Founders, along with massive brewing giant MillerCoors, are voicing their concerns.
We’ve written on here before about Dogfish Head’s passion to stand out amongst growing competition in the craft beer market. Heck, we even devoted an entire 6er to it. But crafting a beer with scorching hot chili peppers or moon dust can only go so far. At some point, you need to find new ways to set yourself apart from the beer lining the shelf next to you. In their latest move, Dogfish Head is doing just that by introducing the new Off-Center Your Summer Pack. The new pack signals their shift towards differentiation by presenting a more premium product that offers more than just a 12-pack of beer to consumers. Dogfish Head Founder and CEO Sam Calagione offered his thoughts on the new seasonal variety pack and what its introduction to the market means for Dogfish Head and the larger craft beer arena.
Back in the Spring of 2015, Minnesota breweries entered a canning frenzy, as brewers like Surly and Badger Hill realized the benefits of the convenient packaging format compared to the archaic growler variety. Fulton Brewing also joined the canning fray during that period, becoming one of the first breweries in the bustling Northeast Minneapolis area to do so. A myriad of canned Fulton favorites can be found on shelves across Minnesota. Now, they have announced a new aluminum-clad offering.
Allagash Brewing Co. is an eastern stalwart of craft beer’s “old guard,” most known for their impressive spiced Belgian-style wheat beer, Allagash White. But Allagash’s influence in the Belgian style runs much deeper than just its flagship beer. The Maine-based brewery has had a strong barrel-aged program since 2004, having churned out a variety of quality Belgian-style stouts and tripels. Their first ever barrel-aged beer, Curieux, a bourbon barrel-aged Belgian Golden Ale blended with Belgian Tripel, has been a prominent offering of Allagash for over a decade, but it had only been available on draft and in 750ml bottles—until now. Having sensed consumer’s demand for more choice in packaging, Allagash responded by putting Curieux into 12oz bottles – a first for the brand’s barrel program, and an impressive achievement given the complexity of Curieux. The new packaging format is an exciting shift for the craft beer stalwart; we asked Jason Perkins, brewmaster at Allagash Brewing Company, why they’ve decided to make the move and what craft beer drinkers can expect.
The growth of craft beer and social media have followed somewhat similar trajectories. Both have become dominant forces in the day-to-day lives of many Americans, and both have become intertwined – for better or for worse. In its best sense, the availability of social media allows craft brewers to connect with their patrons and for beer lovers to socialize and discuss with one another, expanding their passion and knowledge of the industry. In the worse sense, social media platforms like Twitter and Untappd offer anonymous critics a vehicle through which to hurl insults, often unwarranted, at breweries.
Half Acre Beer Company has always pushed boundaries with their beers. Whether it’s experimenting with their hops or sourcing exotic ingredients, the folks at Half Acre are well aware that what ends up in your glass is only a small part of the overall process of a beer’s creative journey. This comprehensive approach to creativity has manifested itself in other avenues of their business as well. They’ve had a woodshop for a while that sourced the wood pieces and artwork in their new Balmoral space, but they never had a formalized program for it. That has all changed given Half Acre’s recent announcement that they were expanding their creative studio into a fully-fledged business. Here is what you need to know about Half Acre Build Company.
So, there I was, standing outside on a cold March night in Chicago watching Off Color’s social media manager Ben Ustick and co-founder Dave Bleitner (lovingly called “The Other Guy”) methodically put together the fence that would block off their soon-to-be-open patio space. There was a palpable excitement shared between Ben and Dave as they hammered each 2×4 into place. The patio meant something more than just providing extra seating on a swanky summer day. It was validation that Off Color’s grand experiment had paid off.
The new taproom space, dubbed the Mousetrap, has been a smashing success as it has provided Dave and the other Co-Founder Jon Laffler (the one you usually see in the papers) with more room to share their craft beer genius with hordes of willing Chicagoans. While 2017 was an exciting year for Off Color Brewing, with more momentum and new experiments in the hopper, 2018 is shaping up to be even better.
I remember sitting on the patio of Ballast Point’s Little Italy taproom in San Diego a few years ago sipping on a fresh Grapefruit Sculpin. At the time, I marveled at how impressive that beer tasted – the combination of mellow bitterness and fruity overtones came together in perfect harmony. It was one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted, and it’s still a beer I weigh other fruited IPAs against. Introduced in 2005, Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA has become a pace setter in the American craft beer scene — especially for West Coast IPAs.
Craft beer seems to go through phases. Right now, you can’t find a new brewery that isn’t making something exceedingly bitter, hazy or barrel-aged. In some ways, consumers’ preferences for different craft beer styles mirror their often-fleeting style, dietary and exercise obsessions. Every year there seems to be a new trend popping up that captures the minds of the economically important 25-34 age demographic. One dietary preference that has weathered the storm of fleeting fads has been the rise of gluten-free and gluten-reduced diets due to its digestive health benefits. Now, several prominent craft brewers are joining the fray by introducing gluten-reduced beers. Are these new options a simple novelty or a beer style that is set to explode? We asked two brewers leading the charge.
Much like seeing flowers bloom for the first time, many craft beer drinkers associate the beginning of spring with the release of Bell’s Brewery Oberon Wheat Ale. Bell’s signature ale has been around well before craft beer was in vogue, and its popularity continues to this day thanks to a great flavor profile and a myriad of clever marketing tactics – the best being Oberon Day.
The beer was actually called Solsun up until 1998, but a naming dispute with a Mexican brewery prompted the name change to Oberon… and the rest is history. The day-long event celebrating the release of Oberon for the year has become a fan favorite for Michigan beer fanatics and casual drinkers alike. On March 26, Bell’s plans to make this year’s Oberon Day the biggest ever – here are the details.
Craft beer has a diversity problem. While there’s no easy fix to an issue that is prevalent throughout most industries in America, several craft brewers are making their presence felt by promoting diversity and inclusion from within their ranks. One of those breweries is Chicago’s Revolution Brewing, who employs 68 female employees throughout their expanding operation. To celebrate International Women’s Day, the women of Revolution came together to brew a special beer: Spirit of Revolt IPA.
Founded in 1988, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery has enjoyed over three decades of success by tapping into the craft beer furor of the Pacific Northwest through artfully-hopped beers. With years of experience behind them, Deschutes is acutely aware of the difference between a fleeting fad and a trend that is here to stay. And the rise of brewers moving to cans is no fad. To meet the growing demand among many craft beer drinkers for increased flexibility and accessibility from their beers, Deschutes is moving three of their flagships into 12oz cans this March.
Following a somewhat stagnant 2017, the first month of the new year presented signs of optimism for the overall craft beer market. IRI Worldwide reports that U.S. beer sales in off-premise retail (like grocery, liquor, mass-merchandise stores, etc.) increased 3% in January 2018. This increase was bolstered by strong segment growth from craft beer (4.4%), imports (7.3%) and domestic supreme premiums (12.3%) like Michelob Ultra and Blue Moon. Because this is largely a craft beer site, we thought we’d take a look at the notable craft highlights from the IRI report and give our thoughts on the notable data points. Who knows, this might become a recurring monthly column. Here’s the lowdown.
While we may enjoy a quality craft beer at PorchDrinking from time to time, we also appreciate a good cider, and the craft cider business is booming. If you’re a cider fan, beer fan or anything in between, I highly recommend you check out the ongoing Chicago Cider Week, which offers a week-long list of events and parties aimed at fostering new interest with the increasingly popular realm of artisanal cider. The big event of the week, the 2018 Chicago Cider Summit, takes place on Saturday February 17th. Featuring over 150 different local, regional and international craft ciders from the likes of Colorado-favorite Stem Ciders to local upstart 2 Fools, this all-day cider fest is sure to please every taste bud. Here are the details you need to know.
Delaware-based Dogfish Head isn’t shy about experimentation. As one of the largest national craft brewers on the market, founder Sam Calagione and crew always seem to be on the cutting edge of innovation when it comes to mixing in wild ingredients, whether its lobster, wasabi, or the two active ingredients found in Mace spray. Dogfish Head continues to make it clear that nothing is off limits when it comes to brewing beer – here’s a look at their six wildest creations.
Tony Magee started his brewery dream back in 1993 in Lagunitas, California. The goal was to create bombastic beers that teemed with the plentiful hops found on the West Coast, and to have a lot of fun doing it. Originally an Illinois native, Tony has grown into somewhat of a national celebrity when it comes to craft beer due to his unique brewing practices that led to creations like Undercover Shut Down Ale, his outspoken personality, and the great beers his brewery(s) have produced since his early days.
Now, Lagunitas Brewing Company is an international power, its IPA is the current #1 best seller in packaged formats and they produced around one million barrels of beer last year. In many ways, Magee’s creation is the perfect example of craft beer’s explosive growth over the past two decades. But then again, Lagunitas is an outlier in the current craft beer environment. They’re not like your standard brewpub or trendy hazy IPA factory. If you’ve visited their massive 300,000 sq. foot Chicago brewery facility, decorated with secondhand furniture and mind-melting dog murals, you’d recognize that. As craft beer infiltrates every last avenue of American consumerism, Lagunitas has found a way to stay weird. I asked Karen Hamilton, Lagunitas’ Communications Director and Tony’s sister, how they’ve been able to stay true to their brand for 25 years.
Founders Brewing has been around for more than 20 years, but they didn’t find their staple beer until 2012. Since its introduction, Founders’ easy-to-drink All Day IPA has been a smash hit. The beer hit a nerve for many people across the U.S. due to its outright drinkability and convenient packaging formats, making it a beer that could be consumed on land, on water, and anywhere in between—and sales have reflected that. Five years since it was released nationwide, All Day IPA just had its most successful year ever, growing an incredible 50.3% in 2017. All Day is now the 3rd best-selling IPA in the nation, an incredible feat for any beer over such a small period of time. The crazy sales numbers of its stalwart beer have lifted Founders to new heights, with volume sales up 51%, but if you ask co-founder Mike Stevens about All Day, he’ll say that the session ale has only begun to reach its potential.