Beer Review: Bristol's Laughing Lab

November 2012

Bristol’s Laughing Lab, Bristol Brewing Company, Colorado Springs 

Style: Scottish ale

ABV: 5 percent

Serving Type: 12-ounce bottle

Malty? Hoppy? Mellow malts

Reviewed: September 2012

When I learned that this beer is basically the Michael Phelps of the Great American Beer Festival (it boasts nine medals), I realized it was time to give it another try. I’d sampled it over the years, but it never caught my attention like Colorado's other big hoppy brews (think: Odell Brewing's India Pale Ale). Plus, I'm a little bored with the dog-on-a-bottle thing (sorry pet lovers, but this is overdone.)

Still, I'm glad I waited to review this beer properly. When I first moved to Colorado, I was lured into a hop-heavy rotation of beers. (And, let's be honest, I still am.) Over time, though, I've learned to appreciate Colorado brewers who don't just rely on their American-style IPA to carry the brewery. The perfect example? Colorado Springs' Bristol Brewing (read our interview with brewer Mike Bristol), which included Laughing Lab on its first beer list in 1994—and has made this brew ever since. 

After pouring the Lab, the first smell that hits your nose is caramel—followed by lots of malts. And while I was expecting the Scottish side of this brew to overpower my taste buds, the beer stayed surprisingly mellow and had a dry, crisp aftertaste. The brew is a little light of flavor, but that's a selling point, as this is ideal for a session beer. It would be delightful refreshment at the end of a long ski day when a porter would put me to sleep and a lager wouldn't have enough bite.

Would we buy it again? Brewers tell us that the next big trend is beers with lower ABV. While we love our bombastic high-octane Colorado brews, we can appreciate one with a little less zing. So, when we're in the mood for something that won't fill us up or leave us with a headache, we'll grab a sixer of Laughing Lab. 

Follow senior editor Natasha Gardner on Twitter at @natashajgardner or on Pinterest.