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Whether you are a St. Louis native or a transplant to our great city, you probably know that we have an affinity for those who hail from St. Louis. Be it be World Series MVP David Freese, that suave actor Jon Hamm, or even our continuing fascination with Nelly, we always have a soft spot for our own. Well did you know that one of the most highly regarded craft breweries in the country has a St. Louis native running their pilot brewing system?

Meet Laura Ulrich, Stone Brewing Company‘s Small Batch Brewer. Small Batch Brewers at Stone take care of the barrel-aging program, oversee casks for local and national accounts, and manage the pilot brewing system, where they try new recipes as well as make special creations and unique one-offs. With all of that also comes conducting tasting panels, upkeep of inventory, and the tracking of these beers progress.

A graduate of Bishop DuBourg High School (you know you were gonna ask), Laura attended Lindenwood University where she earned a degree in English. After college, she moved to Fort Collins, CO where she worked as a bartender for a while and started learning about craft beers. There was an opening at one of the local breweries–Odell Brewing Co. and she couldn’t wait to apply. Part of her interview was hands on, and by her own admission, she wasn’t very good at hand packing bottles into the cases.

I knew in my heart it would be something that I could learn and master. I was told working on the bottling line would be hard, but I was hell bent on proving that I could do it.

Although she always loved Odell Brewing Co (and still does), Laura always wanted to live in Southern California. Hearing that Stone Brewing Company had an opening on the line, she applied.

I was given the job and 30 days to move out, so I packed my car and my cat and we headed west, not knowing anyone or what would happen

Laura has been with Stone Brewing Co. since March of 2004. Starting off on the bottling line and working her way up through the cellar, to the Brewhouse, and then as the Brewery Trainer, before landing her latest gig as Small Batch Brewer. She’s the brewer behind the Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Bean, which came about after tasting a Stone Smoked Porter Real Beer Float.

I was the only female on the line, in the cellar, and then eventually the first female to brew at Stone Brewing Co. Working here has opened my ideas and my passion for beer and brewing. I recall buying my brother homebrewing books while I worked at Odell’s, never thinking that brewing was for me until I got to San Diego.

It’s led to all sorts of cool projects, like helping start the Pink Boots Society, a professional group for women in the beer industry, now with over 800 members!

And while it’s definitely been a crazy ride, I wouldn’t change a thing

Want to meet Laura? Well we’ve got a few events planned during St. Louis Craftbeer Week where you’ll get a chance:

Wednesday August 1st
3 Way Stone IPA – The Royale – 4PM
Free Event (Food and drink available for purchase)
Join Laura Ulrich and Nate Sellergren from Stone as they’ll be discussing three different versions of an IPA. You’ll have your chance to try Stone IPA, a firkin of Stone IPA w/ Newport, and Ruination IPA.

Beer School – Cicero’s – 6:15PM-7:15PM
Free Event (Food and drink available for purchase)
Join Nate Sellergren and Laura Ulrich of Stone Brewing Company as they discuss Stone beer and Stone Brewery. IPA and Double Dry-Hopped IPA will be available to taste.

Thursday August 2nd
Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Bean Tapping – Wild Flower Restaurant – 5-6:30
Free Event (Drinks available for purchase)
Meet Stone Small Batch Brewer Laura Ulrich and taste her now famous creation: Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Bean

Ruination Domination! – International Tap House (Soulard) – 7PM
Free Event (Drinks available for purchase)
Featuring Laura Ulrich and Mate Sellergren from Stone
Special tapping of Stone Ruination, Double Dry-Hopped Ruination, Ruination 10th Anniversary and Ruination Cask w/ Chinook

Make sure to come out and show Laura some hometown craftbeer love!

logo1Tomorrow is the first second Friday of the month, so that must mean it’s time for another fantastic pairing of best place to get Neapolitan Pizza in the St. Louis area, The Good Pie, and a chance to enjoy some delicious cask beer from Schlafly.

This Friday, January 8th, starting a 5PM, a representative from the St. Louis Brewery will be tapping a cask of the Schlafly Smoked Porter. They’ll be serving it until the cask runs out or The Good Pie closes.

Sure, you can get cask beer at the Tap Room, but you can’t get Neapolitan Pizza to go along with it! Head on out there for some great pizza and beer.

dsc03169.jpgI’ve had a few people that are still on the lookout for O’Fallon’s Pappy Van Winkle Smoked Porter so I though I’d share an email Derrick Bean from O’Fallon sent over to me.

Just an FYI, I have noticed a few places so far this week who still have some Pappy Van Winkle Whiskey Smoked Porter left on their shelves:
Hampton House of Liquors–12 Bottles
Dierbergs Brentwood–4 bottles

In addition, Randall’s in Fairview, Corral in Granite City and Plaza Liquors in O’Fallon, Illinois won’t be getting their cases until sometime this week

Also, the 4 Friar Tuck stores in Champaign, Bloomington, Peoria and Springfield, Illinois should all be getting theirs next Tuesday.

Lastly, the local Friar Tuck store opening in Crestwood will have 1 case to sell once they open in a couple of weeks.

I was also told by Andy Snead from Whole Foods, that they will begin selling it on May 5th, so that’s another place you can check. We have a thread in the forum devoted to where you can find this beer.  Pop on over and check it out.

Don’t you absolutely adore alliteration? Anyway, Tuesday night was the release of O’Fallon Brewery’s newest beer, Pappy Van Winkle Smoked Porter. Riddle’s Penultimate celebrated the event by purchasing the only keg of the beer. Bill Burge, his lovely wife Ellie, and Mike Leahy joined me for a taste of the draught Pappy Porter on Tuesday evening. I don’t think there was a disappointed one of us, the beer smells of a deep bourbon with a lot of vanilla. In fact, I thought it had so much vanilla nose, that it reminded me a bit of cake batter.

While the price is a bit high ($12 for an 8oz pour?!) this is something to partake while you still have the chance.

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I’ve been told that the Wine and Cheese Place in Rock Hill and Provisions Gourmet Market received their allocations of the O’Fallon Pappy van Winkle Smoked Porter. This is a very limited release (and my guess is that this is a one time only thing.) So make sure to check your local store for availability and buy it as soon as possible. Also, I’ll be at tonight’s release party at Riddle’s Penultimate, hope to see you there.

Edit:  Here’s a photo of the bottle of Pappy van Winkle Smoked Porter.  Thanks for Scotty P for providing it!

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riddles.jpgLongest title ever? I actually had to shorten it (twice). Anyway, to celebrate the release of O’Fallon Brewery’s newest (and possibly single edition) beer, the Pappy van Winkle Barrel Aged Smoked Porter, Riddle’s Penultimate will be holding a release party on April 22nd starting at 6PM. If you’re not aware of the PvW Smoked Porter, Andy Ayers of Riddle’s explains it better than I ever could:

The crew at O’Fallon Brewery had been experimenting with aging that award-winning Smoked Porter in used bourbon barrels, and they liked the results real well but the latest batch was something else again. That’s why Tony called me.The O’Fallon team didn’t realize what they had until they ran down the federal I.D. numbers on their most recently acquired whiskey barrels. By sheer good fortune, the O’Fallon Smoked Porter was resting in charred, white oak barrels that had, for the previous one score and three, been home to the only 23-year Kentucky Bourbon sold today, Pappy van Winkle’s Family Reserve, something like the Holy Grail to bourbon connoisseurs which, if you can find one of the 3,000 bottles released last year, can cost almost $400.

Pretty neat stuff, eh? Well it gets even cooler. O’Fallon only received four of these barrels which will yield about 75 cases and one half-barrel. Well Riddle’s purchased that half-barrel and will begin serving it during the release party next weekend. As soon as that barrel is gone, that’s probably the last chance you’ll have to try this very special beer.

Ok, so yesterday’s post was completely terrible. From messing up twice on the type of bourbon barrels to doubting it would see store shelves this week. Sorry about that, should have checked with people in the know before spouting off. Oh well, onward and upward.

According to Derek Bean, the sales manager for O’Fallon, the bulk of the 31 cases should be hitting store shelves today. So I’d contact your local retailer to see if it’s available to pick up today. If the frenzy for Hopslam was any barometer, this one is sure to go fast as well.