Interview: Roger Bott (LAB Brewing)

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Brewer Los Angeles

Roger Bott, who goes by Dr. Hops, has been a standout Agoura Hills brewer.

Roger Bott has helmed The LAB Brewing Co. in Agoura Hills from the brewery’s start in late 2011. The former Amgen employee, who goes by Dr. Hops, fashions beers such as Dunk in the Trunk Dunkelweizen and After Midnight Moo Milk Stout. I recently corresponded with Bott about how The LAB Brewing Co.’s beers have evolved. 

Sean Inman: How have the LAB beers changed since you first started up?

Roger Bott: Several of our recipes have improved in my mind since start up. We have continued to tweak the recipes and further understand the system. I am now happy with several of the styles and have stopped changing them, while we have also had the chance to brew some new beers like the Double IPA and a Black Lager.

SI: Which LAB beer(s) have surprised you with it’s popularity?

RB: The Take Her Home Tripel continues to be a favorite while the Honey I’m Home Blonde Ale boasts the best sales. Our newest brew however, a German Black Lager I call Schwarz Schaf, is flying out of the tap and may very well give the Blonde a run for its money. I’m really happy with that, being as though German Black Lager (aka Schwarzbier) is not a very popular style, but our bartenders have been doing a good job of having people take a small sample, and most of those people that try it end up having a glass or three. I’m really happy with how that beer came out, especially since it was our first lager. I think it may be the beer I am most happy and content with.

SI: How do you go about naming your beers?

RB: We like to have fun with our names, as the beer industry is a rather fun industry all around and I think having fun is the key to life. We generally pick names that make us laugh, and in turn are at least somewhat memorable. Some of the beers we have like the Big Ass Red I have been brewing at home for over 20 years, so the name was already there, but others we just brainstorm with partners, friends, or sometimes even Social Media based contests. I however am much more concerned about the quality of the beer and making sure it comes out just right, sometimes the name waits until the day before we put the brew on tap.

SI: What was the most recent beer that you brewed, and what was your inspiration and approach?

RB: We have a Double IPA in the tank right now sitting on dry hops. We used 34 lbs of hops in this brew and only made 9 bbls. That’s 3.8 lbs/bbl, a very high hopping rate by any measure, but only 4.5 lbs were used in bittering, everything else was used during the last 20 mins or in dry hop. We wanted to create a beer that was not overly bitter or malty but had a huge hop flavor and aroma. Its kind of standard to do that nowadays, I realize, but I really like that style so I like to make it.

SI: Is there a beer or style that you always want/need on tap?

RB: I guess I would say we always have to have a Blonde and an IPA on tap. The number of people coming in asking for one of those two styles is very high, and if I don’t have one of my own online chances are they would buy a guest beer, and of course I would rather move more of my own brew. I’m trying to brew beers that will help expand peoples minds to other styles, such as the Schwarz or Dunkelweizen I have on currently. Once people try one of these, they find they really like them. I love helping people find a new favorite style of beer!

SI: If you could only drink one more beer, and you couldn’t brew it, what would it be and why?

RB: Oh wow what a hard question! I guess I would have to say I would order a La Chouffe. I love the Belgian Golden Strong Style and am a huge Chouffe fan in general. When I lived in The Netherlands a group of friends and I went down to Belgium to the Chouffe Brewery and had a wonderful time. It really is a magical place down there, like the Disney World of beers! I even brought back my own Chouffe who helps me create my recipes!

SI: Where do you see the Los Angeles scene in five years?

RB: In 5 years I think L.A. will be on par with the great beer cities of the West Coast such as San Diego, Portland, San Francisco, etc… It took us a while and we are still catching up but L.A. has the craft beer bug now and I think we will continue to see further growth. I also think we will continue to see more collaborations. We are actually teaming up with Enegren and Sundowner to do a collaboration brew later this month. Every brewer I’ve ever meet has been a really nice person, and its fun to team up with other brewers, put your heads together, and make a great beer. After all, that’s what its all about!

Address: 30105 Agoura Road, Agoura Hills, California 91301

Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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