In a large stock pot, cook diced bacon until extra crispy (don’t be afraid to really crisp this up, because you don’t want it to end up soggy in the soup). Remove bacon from pot and scatter onto paper towel lined plate. Drain all but a couple tablespoons of grease reserved in pan
On medium high heat, add peeled, diced potatoes to pan and stir to coat in grease. Add minced onion and garlic. Fry until potatoes are halfway cooked though and onions are beginning to caramelize.
Pour beer into pot; scrape up any brown bits stuck to bottom of the pan and let alcohol evaporate for 5 minutes.
Add stock, garlic and onion powders, and bay leaves; Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes.
Whisk the cornstarch with a few tablespoons of water. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cornstarch slurry, heavy cream, crispy bacon pieces, and freshly shredded cheddar. Return pot to low heat this time, and simmer on low for 5 to 10 minutes until thickened and cheese is fully melted.
Check salt and pepper levels, adjust to your liking. Using chicken broth instead of stock generally adds more sodium than stock, so adding salt may not be necessary in all cases.