2 O'Clock Tasting: Off Color Brewing - Brooklyn Brew Shop

2 O'Clock Tasting
Off Color Brewing

Updated on March 30, 2016

Chicago's Off Color Brewing are the craft brewery equivalent of those kids you knew in high school. You know the ones - they sat at the back of your AP English class, cracking jokes under their breath and snickering while quietly acing every test and essay. "At some point," their autobiography begins, "John and Dave were born. They did other stuff for awhile and then they figured out they were better at making beer than at the other stuff. So that's what they do now." This, as you might have guessed, is a vast understatement. Off Color excel with ease and a smirk. The John and Dave mentioned in that bio are John Laffler and Dave Bleitner, who both attended the Siebel Institute and then interned at Metropolitan Brewing. They went their separate ways for a bit (John to Goose Island and Dave to Two Brothers ("it's just called Two Brothers")) before coming back together to found Off Color. The sheer flippancy of their site and ingenuity of their brews suggests that, from the beginning, John and Dave have only done exactly what they want with their brewery. They sometimes use dairy yeast and uncontrolled fermentation, because why not. They made the grain mouse their mascot because the brewery is constantly plagued by them. Their FAQ tells how many bottles of bourbon are on John's desk (the current number is 11). They do what they feel like, and as consumers of their intriguing brews, we are very glad of that fact.
  1. Troublesome (Gose Style Beer)

    4.3% ABV | 10 IBUs The Troublesome has a grain mouse on the label and lactobacillus in its depths, two things that, as the name suggests, are usually unwanted in a brewery. In classic style, though, Off Color turn these details to their advantage in this blended beer. It's made up of a basic wheat beer and a potent, acidic, and funky brew fermented solely with lactobacillus, a dairy yeast typical in yogurts and cheeses. The result is an intriguing, balanced beer that poured a lemony, hay color with a well-retained, foamy head. The dairy yeast really came through in the nose, which reminded some tasters specifically of pineapple Chobani yogurt, though sulfur and citrus details also shone through. On the tongue, the Troublesome started with all the gose-esque, coriander sourness before mellowing out and finishing with a subtle sweetness. There are literal stages of drinking this beer, each one as unique as the last. "And yes," the Off Color description scoffs, "it's hard to make."
  3. Scurry (Dark Honey Ale)

    5.3% ABV | 18 IBUs This beer's classification is a bit confusing. Off Color calls it a "dark honey ale," as you can see above. However, it's also based on the obscure Kottbusser style, and ends up tasting sort of like a light porter. We'll explain: it pours with a dark molasses color (appropriate, since they use molasses in the brew), like cola, with a light khaki head that's large and foamy. The aroma is big and simple, emphasizing the chocolate malts used in the brewing process, as well as brown sugar notes from the molasses. The taste, however, is where the porter details emerge, the high carbonation level combining with the molasses for a super dry and light drinking experience. The lightness is the operative descriptor here, defying expectation for a beer as dark as this.
  5. Apex Predator (Farmhouse Ale)

    6.8% ABV | 35 IBUs At its core, the Apex Predator is the result of a risky gamble that paid off in a big way. While a beer is fermenting, the temperature is usually controlled very carefully, to make sure that the yeast behaves as anticipated, creating the proper flavors. For this brew, however, Off Color just pitched the yeast and walked away, and this delightful farmhouse ale is the result. The Apex was easily the lightest of the beers we tried, color-wise, as well as the haziest, with a bubbly, rocky head. The nose, however, contained a tropical cornucopia: pineapple, mango, kiwi, and other equatorial fruits ran rampant. This specificity of smell faded on the tongue into a pleasant, mixed fruit sensation, with a highly juicy texture and floral notes mixed in. Though dry-hopped with Crystal (our August Hop of the Month), the hop profile was surprisingly subtle, adding to the overall aesthetic rather than overpowering it.