“Beer and hockey go together, and it has always been like that, whether it’s the fans or the players,” Laughlin said in a phone interview last week. “That was a common thread in all of this, so we are committed to continuing to work with these small local craft breweries for a good cause. I get beer from it too, so I love it. “
Primary support for Laughlin’s transition from light stocks to hops-heavy haze goes to his 36-year-old son Kyle, who was more of a whiskey drinker than Kyle by a well-stocked shop in the Oswego State University of New York when he attended graduate school in 2013 Being drawn into the craft beer movement near campus, he began to encourage his father to expand his taste buds.
Laughlin initially resisted but eventually ventured a summer after Kyle convinced him on his way home from a hockey tournament he coached in Massachusetts, a case of Trillium, a New England farmhouse-inspired brewery known for its IPAs, record.
“He said,” Hey, this stuff is really good, “recalled Kyle.” It was kind of cool to sit with my dad and have a beer that wasn’t Coors Light or something. “
Encouraged, Laughlin began to try other IPAs, worrying about the specific hop varieties and styles he preferred. He loved his first impression of Aslin, which showed up in Herndon in 2015. Through interactions on social media and a visit to the suite Aslin rented a few years ago for a Capitals game, Laughlin became friends with brewery founder Kai Leszkowicz.
“We pulled out our portfolio and measured a few ounces of it, a few ounces of it,” said Leszkowicz. “He made everything clear and then tried everything mixed up. Then I could say, “Here are all the things that are common in the beers you like, and here is what a recipe might look like.”
The result was Locker 18, a double IPA dry hop with hops from Citra, Amarillo, Nelson and Simcoe. The name is a nod to Laughlin’s uniform number during his season with the Capitals from 1982 to 1988. Laughlin signed autographs and took pictures with fans at a release party for his debut beer last February. A second, slightly different version of Locker 18 was released on Monday.
Laughlin was sitting around a fire pit with friends late last year when he tried Astro Labs Fresh As IPA for the first time. He was so impressed that he emailed the brewery to ask where to find it. A few weeks later, Astro Lab co-founder Emma Whelan invited Laughlin, his wife, Linda, and their daughter, Courtney, for a tour and tasting of the brewery. Whelan and Astro Lab’s chief brewer Matt Cronin came up with the idea of having a beer with Laughlin to help start his family and soon came up with a recipe with Laughlin’s contribution.
“As a Brit, I’m not a huge hockey fan, so I probably didn’t realize how big his personality is in the area,” Whelan said in a telephone interview. “Now that we’ve met him, I can understand why he does what he does. He’s such a fun character and it’s for such a great cause so it was a really fun project for us to work on. It was really a family affair. “
On brewing day, Laughlin, who is almost as familiar with the brewing process as he is with sampling the finished product, helped load the hops and remove the used grain. Tasha Martin, taproom manager at Astro Lab and a huge Capitals fan, designed the cans for Wicked Wrister, a New England style triple dry hopped IPA. Laughlin signed hundreds of four packs before the beer was released in late January.
Laughlin doesn’t have to go far to research and develop his third collaboration, which is expected to be released in May. Friends and Phish Fans Billy Abbott and Henry Jager opened Pherm Brewing in December, just a short drive from Laughlin’s home. They were connected to the former capital through their distributor, which taught hunters in the hockey school.
“After hearing that voice on television your entire life, it’s pretty insane to hear it echoing around your brewery,” said Abbott, who as a kid cut the lawns of Capitals players who lived in the area when the team trained at Piney Orchard. Abbott has already begun creating recipes and possible names for Laughlin’s next beer.
“Biscuit in the basket, Citra in the biscuit,” Abbott said, referring to one of the signature phrases Laughlin has been known for since calling Capitals Games for HTS in 1990. “Those are a few that we might use.”
For Laughlin, a complete craft beer convert who packed an extra empty suitcase on Capitals’ road trips to bring home local beers with Kyle, the collaborations helped raise his foundation’s awareness during a pandemic, personal Has restricted charity events.
“It’s been a pleasant thing in a strange year,” said Kyle, who has already requested a couple of casks of Locker 18 for his August wedding and nudged his father to give Sours a shot.
“I’m not there yet,” said Laughlin, who this year will celebrate 40 years of marriage to Linda, who has responded well to treatment. “Every now and then I will forgive myself, but after going through this phase of IPA that I love, I would think this is my next step. Sour and barrel aged beers. You know, I might make a draft beer. It’ll be exciting. “