Off Color Brewing is in Chicago. The Windy City. Home to the never-say-die Cubs. Da Bears. Deep dish pizza and a vital culinary scene.
It’s also home to The Second City comedy troupe. That was the playground and testing grounds for iconic funny folks like John Belushi, John Candy and Bill Murray. Dan Aykroyd, Chris Farley and Mike Meyers also did stints there…and the list goes on.
It was perhaps this chronic exposure to funny ass people that triggered the off color sense of humor possessed by this brewery’s founders, John Laffner and Dave Bleitner. It is a joy to read their sarcastic, inside joke-laden website.
It is an even greater pleasure to drink their beer. It’s not off color. It is off center…but Dogfish Head had already nabbed that phrase.
The duo are grads of the famed Seibel Institute and did gigs at some of big brew houses before convincing people with jobs to invest in a new brewery. The result is a collection of brews that are free-wheelin’ examples of classic styles and generally very delicious concoctions. What you won’t find among the range are off-the-shelf IPAs, stouts or other mainstream examples of the brewer's art.
Being at the end of the beer pipeline, I stumbled on one label from Off Color at Savannah’s Hops & Barley beer store. I’ve got the word out that I wanna review others – stand by.
In the meantime, let’s crack open Off Color Scurry, a year-round dark honey ale. Obviously, there’s a nod to bees with the honey. There’s also a dose of molasses and a five-grain malt bill that includes oats and chocolate malt.
See where this is going?
Not so fast. A trio of Old World origin hops tackle the bitter task of, well, being bitter. Strisselspalt, Nothern Brewer, and Hallertau Hersbrucker temper what could have been an overly sweet beer. Thanks for the control dudes!
The result is an ale that represents its roots with honor, drinks clean and well-balanced and is as enjoyable by itself as it is aside a hamburger. Scurry pours as dark as a moonless night on Lake Michigan with a dense, nutty colored head. Aromatics conjure up the scent of pure honey. On the palate, the dark tang of molasses, chocolate and toasted oats are predominate. I consider its 5.3 ABV manageable enough to imbibe. 18 IBUs help keep ’er bitters in trim, cap’n. I like it, I really do. I gave it 4.5 over at beer social media site Untapped. No one gets a 5...yet.
I don’t usually say much about packaging. Talking about packaging is like talking about a restaurant’s interior design – that usually means the food is bad. In this case, however, Off Color’s packaging reflects the lighthearted attitude and devotion to detail shown by its founders. Cartons and labels are simple, clean and fun. Consider this my rare endorsement of an animal label.