Drink This Beer: Red Brick Laughing Skull Amber Ale
We talked to Red Brick Brewing’s Brewmaster Garrett Lockhart about this approachable amber ale.
How did the original partnership with the Laughing Skull Lounge/The Vortex come about?
The story as I know it was back in 1993 when Atlanta Brewing Company (ABC) first opened off of Williams St., the owners of The Vortex wanted to visit their new brewing neighbors so they stopped by for a beer. They then met the brewery founder, Greg Kelly. Apparently they all hit it off and became friends. Both then decided that ABC would brew the house beer for The Vortex and we’ve been working with each other ever since.
What caused you to can/bottle this on its own?
The beer received such great feedback that both parties thought it’d be great to bottle and send it out for distribution. It was also the first beer to come off our new canning line at the end of 2014.
This beer is a pretty big seller for you, isn’t it?
Laughing Skull Amber has been a year-round product since before I started at Red Brick in 2010. It rivals Hoplanta as our #1 selling product in markets outside of Atlanta.
Tell us a bit about the recipe of the Amber. What was your thinking going into it, and how did you make it happen?
The original recipe was not an amber ale. It was actually a Bohemian Pilsner and that recipe was created by John Roberts of Max Lagers back when he was brewing for ABC. The beer left the market for a while and came back as an amber ale to save fermentation time as well as capture the rising interest in the amber ale style at the time. Our brew team updated the recipe in 2013 to accentuate more rich malt characteristics. It paid off last year (2016) with an international gold medal at the European Beer Star Competition held in Germany.
You’ve expanded the Laughing Skull line with Lager, and now White Ale. What’s the thinking behind this line?
We decided that the Laughing Skull brand is strong enough to stand on its own. To help with that process, we created some line extensions by first adding the Craft Lager and now the White Ale. We have a few ideas in development for more Laughing Skull products in the future, but for now we’ll focus on these three offering which will also be available in a variety 12 pack this March. Even though IPA’s are still the king of craft, we still get several people at our tours looking for “anything but an IPA” option. We feel like all three of these beers are great options for those looking for less bitter offerings.
Seems as though the beers in Laughing Skull are more “approachable” for someone who may not be new to craft.
You hit it on the head. The Laughing Skull brands are definitely our more approachable offerings, but they’re not just for those new to craft. These beers are for those who don’t necessarily want aggressive flavors. They’re great for food pairings too because they won’t overpower dishes. They act as more of a compliment to your food choices. We think the Laughing Skull beers are great for people looking for a more “easy drinking” option.
What’s the future of the Laughing Skull line?
The future of Laughing Skull Amber is exciting. Look for expanded distribution across the Southeast. You may even see it in another country like South Korea, Italy or Panama. Also, be on the lookout for the new variety 12 pack in March 2017.
Laughing Skull amber was one of the first Georgia craft beers I had. It’s an easy drinking beer that pairs great with food, just like a good amber should. It’s one of those “entry level” craft beers that I often bring to get-togethers with my non-crafty friends. Although my palate has changed, I will still grab this one on a warm day or if I’m having a Vortex burger (mmm….Vortex burger….)