It’s old but welcome news that former Goose Island “innovation brewer” John Laffler and former Two Brothers brewer Dave Bleitner are launching an operation of their own called Off Color Brewing. They’ve been scheming since 2009, and in late February they finally assembled their 20-barrel brew house in a warehouse space near Armitage and Pulaski. Laffler and Bleitner hope to install fermentation tanks late this month and begin filling kegs by the end of April, and they’ll be bottling two year-round beers in four- and six-packs of 12-ounce bottles. Four times annually they plan to release seasonal brews in pairs, which at least initially will be draft only. Off Color intends to introduce Chicago drinkers to obscure or borderline extinct traditional styles—German, Belgian, Finnish, Swedish—enlivened with what I’ll call the “adventurousness” of American craft brewing (another way of saying this approach likely wouldn’t fly in the country that gave us the Reinheitsgebot).

The brewery debuted yesterday with a pop-up bar at Black Rock Pub called “Mischief.” Because its own facility isn’t built out yet, Off Color collaborated with three area breweries for the four beers it poured at Mischief: Metropolitan (a pink pilsner and a smoked bock), Haymarket (an invented style christened a “half bock”), and Three Floyds (a hybrid of a strong Belgian-style golden ale and an imperial saison). Laffler’s veiled threats notwithstanding, not one of them is called “I Think That Stripper Really Liked Me.” Advance tickets for the Monday session of Mischief, from 7:30 till 10:30 PM tonight, are sold out, but Laffler says there will be some for sale at the door.

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.