More Culture:

June 14, 2024

Attic Brewing Co. has global influences, but owner Laura Lacy always stays 'true to Germantown'

The beer maker discusses the inspiration for her award-winning Bloodhound Brown ale, a recipe Lacy developed as a homebrewer.

Food & Drink Beer
Attic Brewing Laura Lacy PROVIDED IMAGE/Attic Brewing Co.

Attic Brewing Co. owner Laura Lacy used a recipe she created as a homebrewer to make a Bloodhound Brown Ale that took home a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2020.

Laura Lacy's introduction to craft brewing came nearly 20 years ago inside a hut in Valley Forge National Historical Park. 

Lacy, who owns Attic Brewing Co. in Germantown with her husband Todd, studied history in college in Illinois and took an internship at the national park, dressing up as 18th century soldiers and camping in log shacks. 

  • brewer'c choice beer series
  • Brewer's Choice is an occasional series where PhillyVoice asks local brewers to build six-packs using our prompts. Look for it on Fridays or follow along on social media with #brewerschoice.

"A few of the rangers were homebrewing and into the beer scene," she said. "When one of the rangers gave me a Saranac caramel porter, I was like 'What in the world is this?'"

When Lacy and her husband moved to Philly in January 2005, they began exploring the craft beer scene. "With me being from Chicago, Todd from Colorado, and our work with the National Park Service, we would travel all over the country and probably visited close to 400 breweries, sampling beer styles, going to cool breweries and just getting a taste of what was happening with beer — just as fans," she said. "We really didn't have any serious thought of ever opening a brewery at that time. We were just enjoying craft beer." 

In 2016, they began acquiring a taste of turning their love of beer into a business. The couple was homebrewing in their Germantown attic apartment and taking samples to neighborhood events to start building a following. 

"We didn't have central air conditioning, so we were fermenting beer in our bedroom," Lacy said. "We had chest refrigerators filled with kegs in our house all the time."

MORE: At Dock Street, Philly's oldest craft brewery, making lagers isn't a trend. It's part of its beer making heritage.

In January 2020, months before the pandemic, they opened Attic Brewing Co., using some West Coast influences while staying "true to Germantown."

"When we were visiting cities like Portland, there were so many breweries, but each one was very unique and had its own personality," Lacy said. "I think as craft beer grew, a lot of taprooms were opening in warehouses, and so we really wanted to kind of create a very unique space. And so our taproom, while we're in an old abandoned warehouse, we put a lot of intention behind having a 140-year-old antique back bar and vintage furniture, and we really wanted it to feel unique and cozy."

In addition to creating an atmosphere through furniture and decor, they wanted to create a welcoming culture. Lacy said when they'd visit breweries on their travels, they'd talk to locals to learn about the best hikes or bands playing at pubs that night. She wanted to replicate that environment in their Germantown brewery. 

"We call it neighborhood vibes," Lacy said. "We tell people if you're here by yourself, and you don't know anybody, you're going to meet somebody because everyone is just so nice and friendly and open." 

MORE: Attic Brewing teams up with same-name breweries in Europe to release beer timed for Phillies' London series

Lacy also tapped into her background to develop Attic's brews, too. In 2020, she used a recipe she created as a homebrewer to make Bloodhound Brown Ale, which won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival. It was the start of a trend for Attic, which has won four awards in total at GABF over the years, all with different beers.  

Attic has 14 beer lines that are constantly rotating and one is usually reserved for its Give Back Beer Series in which the brewery collaborates with a local nonprofit to raise money. In the four years since it opened, Attic has donated over $50,000 through its fundraising beers. It's just another way the brewery builds on its connection with the community.

Lacy added, "Most of the time, when we're doing those collaborations, we try to keep the money as local as possible."

Here's Laura Lacy's handpicked six-pack. Each beer choice is based on prompts provided by PhillyVoice, and we asked her to limit selections of Attic's beers. The answers have been edited for length and clarity.

1. What would you pair with a soft pretzel?

Delco Lager, 2SP, 4.0% ABV

This was one of the first Philly craft lagers that I really enjoyed. It has a great malty flavor but is still very crushable. Before we opened Attic Brewing Co., I used to help can beer at 2SP and would get to take home a case of Delco Lager after every shift.

2. As a history buff, what do you consider the best beer in Philly history?

Gold Lager, Stoudts, 4.7% ABV

Carol Stoudt was the first female brewmaster in the U.S. since Prohibition. Her impact on the Philadelphia beer scene and beyond can still be seen today, and she definitely solidified her place in Philadelphia beer history. The Stoudts Gold Lager was awarded a silver medal at the 1988 Great American Beer Festival, and it was the first of 30 GABF medals that Stoudts would earn over their 30-plus years. Stoudts still ranks in the top 20 breweries awarded the most GABF medals ever. Craft lagers are gaining popularity and this beer still holds up 36 years later.

3. What was your favorite beer that you had during the Great American Beer Festival? 

60 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head, 6.0% ABV

Is there a craft beer fan that doesn't have a Dogfish Head 60 minute story? This past year, I got to meet (Dogfish Head Brewery founder) Sam Calagione in person for the first time at the Dogfish Head table at the GABF. I was probably sampling the iconic Dogfish Head 60 Minute, but was so excited to meet a craft beer pioneer I can't really remember. I read his book "Brewing up a Business" as I was opening Attic, and it made me think of our brewery business as an adventure, which was so helpful since eight weeks after opening there was a global pandemic. I really admire the energy and passion Sam still has for craft beer and how he still shows up to meet fans of his beers.

4. As a Phillies fan who went to London to see them play, what's your drink of choice to watch their games? 

Philly Standard, Yards, 4.5% ABV

Philly fans drink Philly beer! If you're watching the Phillies, you better have a Philly-brewed beer in your hands. At Citizens Bank Park, Yards Philly Standard is my go-to — light, clean and easy drinking. I had my wedding at the old Yards on Delaware Avenue, and they definitely have a special place in my heart. Plus, (Yards President) Tom Kehoe has built something incredible and is one of the nicest people in Philly beer. New news: Yards just became available in London and was on tap for the Phillies London Series.

5. After a long hike, what do you have in hand around the campfire?

Toasty Imperial Stout, Two Locals and Carbon Copy collaboration, 12% ABV

I love campfire beers! Give me something bold, dark and strong to sip on. I've only had Toasty one time at the brand new Two Locals taproom, but it will definitely be with on my next camping trip. It has such a nice balance between sweet and dry, plus there's no strong alcohol taste considering the 12% ABV. And imperial stouts pair perfectly with s'mores.

6. A friend comes over tonight, what beer in your fridge right now do you have to offer? 

Bloodhound Brown Ale, Attic Brewing Co., 5% ABV

This is a recipe I created as a homebrewer, and our head brewer, Bogdan, helped to scale and perfect the recipe. We won our first GABF silver medal for this beer in 2020 and it's very special to me. Although we don't brew it very often, I usually always have a few tucked in the fridge. I created the recipe when I was working at Deer Creek Malthouse and the malt bill is pretty complex. Brown ales can get pretty sweet, so I added some rye malt that helps balance the sweetness and adds a hint of pumpernickel bread flavor. It's definitely a fan favorite.