PubCrawler is a leading travel focused search engine. We feature breweries, brewpubs and beer bars as well as most restaurants. Numerous lodging options - hotels and bed and breakfasts are available for booking reservations. We also list nearby attractions such as historic landmarks. Beer News
November 22, 2014 @ 02:57 AM EDT
Member Login | Join | Contact Us
Blog | News | Events rss | Links | Videos | Store Android App now AVAILABLE on your Android!
In the Android Market or at SlideME.
** News ** September 21, 2010 - Now AVAILABLE, Android App. See and buy the app >here or here.

also see:

RSS newsfeed Beer News

Brewery to watch: Off Color

Off Color's John Laffler / Michael Kiser for DRAFT

Off Color’s John Laffler / Michael Kiser for DRAFT

Off Color co-founder John Laffler’s a brewing vet, formerly of Goose Island and Metropolitan Brewing (where he met Off Color’s other half, Dave Bleitner); he knows the mold of a solid brewing business. But for his own Chicago outfit? He decided to take some risks.

“We were pitching our beer to investors and no one knew what the hell [a gose] was, so we just called it a blended wheat beer,” Laffler recalls. That lemony-salty beer, called Troublesome, isn’t a one-off or a seasonal; it’s the flagship. The second mainstay is Scurry, an even lesser-known German-style, kottbusser, brewed with honey, molasses and oats. Special releases continue to fly in the face of the ubiquitous blonde/pale ale/IPA brewery portfolio: Biere De?Garde Dog, a French-style farmhouse ale, arrives this winter, as will Dinosmores, an imperial stout with graham flour, marshmallow fluff, vanilla and cocoa nibs.

Troublesome’s not been troublesome at all; Off Color is growing quickly, and earning real clout. Fans are now gulping the beers in 23 states, and earlier this year, Off Color poured at the exclusive, taste-making Copenhagen Beer Celebration. The guys have also collaborated with luminaries like Prairie Artisan Ales and Three Floyds, and this winter, they’ll return to Denmark with a barrel-aged Swedish-style gotlandsdricka (a smoky, juniper-spiked farmhouse ale) to tap at Mikkeller Bar.



“For the gose, we do two fermentations: One is a super-sour, unpleasant acidic beer, and then we blend it with a really boring wheat beer. Salt adds more mouthfeel than flavor; if you know it’s there, you’ll get a touch of brine. Some people drink it and say, ‘This isn’t a gose,’ but that’s because Americans have decided you need to have enough salt in the style to go blind.”


“This is a German dunkel kottbusser. We use lots of dark Munich malts, so there’s dark chocolate, and a fair amount of oats for a silky mouthfeel. We brew it with honey and molasses to get a sweet aroma, but then it ferments bone-dry, creating the sensation of sweetness. When people say, ‘It’s so sweet,’ I think, ‘Yes, gotchya!’”

Apex Predator

“It’s a dry-hopped farmhouse ale, and the hoppiest beer we make. The beer shows that, even with hops, fermentation can still be front and center. When it’s fresh, it’s a new approach to a saison. When it ages, white pepper and funkiness emerge. As the hops fade away, the phenols come out and it has a great mustiness.”

Permanent Link

The Bitter Brewer: Chapter 9


Flickr photo by Mohamed Musthafa

Note: The following is a fictionalized story written as a chapter a day for the National Novel Writing Month challenge. It’s inspired by real life places, events and, of course, beer. Catch up with previous chapters here

James and Todd hatched the plan over several pints of Zombie Dust. Maybe that’s what made them ambitious.

It was decided that James would also summarily take off of work and hit the road with Todd. Together they would continue this road trip and hit up breweries in their wake.

Fortunately for them, James had always been a consummate tinkerer, and his garage was filled with multiple Harley motorcycles in various states of hybrid customization. It was something he picked up from his dad, a mechanic. He did it for fun the way some people watch “Scandal” or play Farmville.

But he hoped for a larger purpose for these projects. James always had an idea to use these bikes for some sort of adventure. Maybe a tour to Sturgis. Maybe he would visit all the national parks. Maybe just a day trip up to Milwaukee to see the Harley Davidson Museum. It was always someday.

So why not now? This seemed like the excuse that he was always waiting for. Todd’s truck was probably not coming back anytime soon. This provided James the opportunity to come to the rescue.

“Alright,” he said, after finishing his fourth Zombie Dust. “I’m in.”

James figured he had at least two bikes in good enough condition for a road trip, but they would spend the rest of the day making sure they were tuned, ready and all loose ends had been tied up.

The big change they made for this joint journey was they wouldn’t travel the entire country as Todd had first planned, or at least James wouldn’t. And since Todd had no money or transportation on his own, he decided he was fortunate to take what he could get. Beggars couldn’t really be choosers.

The plan? They would simply circumnavigate the perimeter of the Great Lakes instead. Still a formidable challenge, but nothing like traveling across the United States.

Unlike Todd, James wanted to use actual vacation time, and get back in time for Thanksgiving. Three Floyds had trouble enough keeping up with production without a brewer ditching them before the holidays. He was pushing his luck, but he wouldn’t push it further than he had to.

For the first time on this trip, Todd had a pang of guilt. This was different than leaving his own job with no warning. He could handle the consequences of his own actions — and so far it was only his own truck that took the brunt of his decisions — but this change in plans meant that he was no longer affecting just himself.

Was Todd becoming a bad influence? Would Three Floyd fanatics turn their wrath on him? Was he single-handedly increasing the absenteeism rate at top-rate craft breweries the country?

Well no, not exactly. It’s only been two breweries so far. But he was just getting started.

There would be time later to consider the implications of their plan. But not now. It had been a long day, filled with vanished vehicles, police reports and uncertainty. Now that they had a plan, they were exhausted. It was time for sleep.

What happened next may have been the Zombie Dust talking, or maybe the addition of motorcycles into the trip that lent a sort of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” philosophy quality (even though Todd had never finished the book).

That night, Todd dreamt that he was having a few beers with Buddha. Except that it wasn’t exactly Buddha. Instead it was an amalgamation of several brewers he had known and worked with throughout his lifetime. They all had beards and wore boots, but wore a traditional robe. They kept shifting and changing, but in his dream he understood that they were all the reincarnation of Buddha.

Dreams were weird like that.

The Buddha/brewers’ message to him in the dream was that leaving his job, hitting the road and losing his truck filled with beer was teaching him to let go. Attachment was the root of suffering. Change was inevitable. He should release things that aren’t meant for him.

“You know,” the Buddha brewer said, while taking another drink from his pint glass, “liberation comes from the ability to separate from the transient world of things.”

He continued.

“The world is a place of uncertainty. Free yourself from such concerns. Only then will you attain transcendent enlightenment.” 

Seemed reasonable as Todd drank his own beer. The more he drank, the more sense this seemed to make. Funny  how that worked.

There are infinite possibilities in life, the Buddha/brewer explained. This road trip could take him one place, or it could take him another. Both were equal. The fact that his plans changed and he was no longer headed throughout the country wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. And it could change again. That’s OK.

The Buddha/brewer finished his glass.

“The true nature of your life,” he explained to Todd, “is one of freedom and possibility. Embrace it.”

Then he opened another bottle of beer.

“Cheers, bro,” he said. “Here’s to the possibilities.”


Also, in his dream, Buddha preferred IPAs. Good taste, the Buddha. So he had that going for him.

It was the kind of hippie crap that Todd would eagerly dismiss in real life, even though he had bought Yakima hops from people who said this kind of stuff all the time. I mean, he was the kind of guy who listened to bands like Pig Destroyer. He was the Bitter Brewer.

That’s when he woke up.

Maybe his subconscious was trying to tell him something. Maybe this trip was trying to tell him something.

All the same, he decided he wouldn’t tell James about this episode the next day. He kept it to himself. It was probably just the Zombie Dust effect.

In the morning, they would ride.

Permanent Link

The Bitter Brewer: Chapter 8

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 9.35.07 PM

Photo via 3FloydsBrewing on Instagram

Note: The following is a fictionalized story written as a chapter a day for the National Novel Writing Month challenge. It’s inspired by real life places, events and, of course, beer. Catch up with previous chapters here

It’s never convenient to have your transportation stolen. It’s even less convenient when you don’t have the means to contact the police.

Of course James had left his phone in his truck, where it had been turned off and stowed away for the past two days. He had kept his promise to stay away from technology on this trip, and now it had come back to bite him.

James did in fact have his iPhone on him, but the battery had died sometime overnight. He was still waiting for his contact renewal to update to the 6. His 4s batter never stood a chance.

And so Todd and James found themselves alone in a pre-technology state in a supposedly haunted 1920s farmhouse in the woods. Todd couldn’t believe it. I mean, seriously. What was this, a bad Blair Witch knock-off?

Hitchhiking probably would have been out of the question, too. They were two burly, hairy brewers with long beards who looked exactly like they had just snuck into a cellar window and slept in a haunted house. Probably not the most appealing cargo to pick up during an office worker’s morning commute.

But in one way, they did luck out. The fortunate part of having your truck stolen, misplaced or just disappear under mysterious circumstances in the Bieker woods was that it was a mere 5 minute walk from the police station.

They never did notice any paranormal activity while spending the night, if you don’t count the parlor trick flashlights they played with. There had been stories of hearing screams of a man in pain from the basement, where legend had it a former resident died when he tripped and fell with wine bottles.

But then Todd thought he saw something as they started hiking their way out of the woods. It looked, oddly enough, like a naked man running away in the opposite direction. Todd thought he could even hear the twigs snap as the man sprinted through the thick brush.

He looked away toward James to see if he had registered the same thing. James was looking the other way and didn’t give away that he noticed anything unusual. When he looked back, the man — if he was ever there to being with — was gone. Todd decided not to bring it up.

They were told to wait by a receptionist when they got to the police station. And wait they did. They took a seat and had plenty of time to lean all about the latest happenings from the The Times of Northwest Indiana. 

Apparently, the Bieker Woods Night Walk over Halloween was “a frightfully good time.” The haunted house — actually, more of a haunted woods — had raised money for Munster Boy Scouts, Munster Girl Scouts, and the Munster Parks and Recreation. Seemed so wholesome. At least someone was having some success at the Bieker House.

The Munster High School football had also defeated its rival Highland, meaning the bridge connecting the two communities would once again get spray painted. Todd made a mental note to look for that as he left town. If he ever left town again.

He waited for at least an hour before a detective invited him to come with him to file a report. Apparently scary looking out-of-towners who illegally spend a night in a haunted house before getting their beer-filled truck stolen are not the police department’s first priority. Go figure.

The detective could not look less surprised as he took down Todd’s report. Todd tried to remember as many details from the night before as he could. Having enjoyed Three Floyds late into the night did not help his memory.

Finally, the detective asked if Todd noticed any signs of other people around the woods, either the night before or the next day. Someone talking a walk? Other vehicles? Anything?

Todd hesitated, then decided to tell him about the naked man he thought he saw sprinting through the woods. Did that make him sound completely crazy?

To the contrary, the detective didn’t look the least bit fazed. He nodded with a knowing look, wrote down the details, and moved on. Had others filed this same report with the same detail? Todd decided not to pursue the point.

Now that the paperwork was done, the questions was what would he do next?

Using his one call, James contacted his brother, Carl, to come pick them up. They discussed options on the way back to James’ house, which passed the Brew pub. He saw new decals being added to the Three Floyds silo.

As much as he’d kill for a fresh Alpha King right now, he didn’t want to deal with the awkward questions and nut-busting remarks.

James had made it clear that he was more than welcome to stay at his house for as long as he wanted. That option seemed extremely appealing, to be honest. He could hang out and have his fill of fresh Dreadnaught. Maybe he and his friends at Three Floyds could create a new collaboration brew. One of the highlights of his career was working on the BLAKKR IPA with Three Floyds. Now he could create the sequel.

But something about that plan didn’t seem right.

If he did intend on ever returning to his job at Surly, how would he explain the fact that he just hung around Three Floyds for an extended period of time? And worked for free? Like he had a hall pass to start working for other brewers unannounced? Nah, that didn’t seem like it would work.

Besides, he wasn’t on vacation. He was on this trip to keep moving forward.

The question was, how?


Permanent Link

The Bitter Brewer: Chapter 7

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 10.46.21 PM

Flickr photo by Brent Moore

There was one time when Todd had his car towed while staying overnight in Madison.

It was late, bitter cold and he circled his friend’s neighborhood again and again looking for parking. The area was just east of the University of Wisconsin, and cars were everywhere. Street parking was a nightmare.

Finally, he found an entire open block. He couldn’t believe his luck. He pulled over and had his choice of locations. He still had to walk about a half mile to get back to his friend’s place, but at least he had some place to stash his car.

Turns out, of course, that there was a reason why the block was unoccupied.

It was a lane for commuters. No parking 6 am to 9 am. Violators will be towed at the owners expense.

Stupid stupid stupid.

He tried not to beat himself up, but he couldn’t help it. That was just human nature.

Whenever something bad happened, he attempted to put it in perspective. It was going to cost him $50 to get his car out of the tow lot, plus another $20 ticket for parking in an unauthorized zone. That wasn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things.

To put that in perspective, if he had stayed in a hotel, he would have been out much more than that. He would have easily paid for more than the fine, even though his car would have been safe in the hotel parking lot. But that’s not how our brains work.

Todd had always been fascinated by psychology. He never studied it formally in school, but he read every article he could get his hands on. He recognized loss aversion when he saw it. Basically, that means that our brains react much stronger to losses rather than gains. Negative news has more of an impact than positive news.

In practice, this means that losing $10 means more to us than earning $10. If you found $10 on the street and then promptly lost it, it would have been better if you never found it at all. You’re going to be sad and frustrated after losing the 10 bucks even though you’re back where you started, and the $10 was never yours to begin with.


But that doesn’t change how your brain perceives getting your car towed. You’re still going to be pissed. There’s a reason your brain evolved loss aversion, so you’re careful to hold onto what you already have.

And you’re definitely going to be pissed when you wake up in a haunted house in a woods in Munster, Indiana — and your truck is gone. There’s no talking yourself out of the denial, bargaining and anger.

Stupid stupid stupid. 

The truck had been parked out front, and now it was just vanished. Without a trace. Along with his full truck bed of beer. All gone.

Stupid stupid stupid. 

He tried to think though the previous night and search for any sort of clues. It hadn’t been his finest moments.

James was one of his closest friends in the brewing business. Like Todd, he was really laid back for a dude who listened to Slayer. That’s what the bonded over when they first met at GABF eight years ago.

Todd figured he would completely take James by surprise by showing up at the doorstep of Three Floyds unannounced. He knew James would be cool with it. And he was.

It was James’ idea to grab a bunch of bottles of Dark Lord, Man o Awe, Arctic Fox and Gumballhead and head out to the Bieker House for an overnight party like a bunch of 17-year-olds. Fortunately, they didn’t get company from any other locals. It was November and the winds were starting to really pick up in Munster. Who in their right mind would spend the night in a supposedly haunted house in such conditions?

Their idea was to try to communicate with the ghost that lived in the house. James had heard of a method to try that using two flashlights.

It sounded kind of weird, but the theory went that ghosts could turn flashlights off and on as a way to answer yes or no questions. How someone discovered this method, he had no idea. You were supposed to unscrew the caps of the flashlights so they connected juuuust a little bit. Then using its apparition finger, it could press on the cap to turn the flashlight off or on.

One flashlight turning on meant yes. Two meant no. Todd had heard a scientific explanation for this once — something about the heat of the bulb expanding the lens — but that would take all the fun out of it. Just go with it. Sure, why not.

It took James and Todd a few bottles before they starting busting out the flashlights. It was probably boredom more than the alcohol, though. It was just something to do.

Interviewing a ghost turned out to be more challenging than they anticipated. Maybe it was putting everything in yes or no answer form. Hey, who are you wasn’t a valid ghost question, but it got one of the flashlights to turn on. They laughed at the suspect methodology. Then they got down to business.

Does Surly make the best beer in the world? 


No, does Three Floyds make the best beer in the world? 


This ghost needed to make up their mind.

Should I be taking this road trip? 


Should I keep going on this road trip? 


Should I have stopped in Munster? 

No answer.

Why won’t you answer me? Oops, not a yes or no questions. 

It went on like this for awhile. A mixed bag of answers, some what you were looking for, some not, some just confusing. Kind of like a Ouji board.

Finally, when they were quite drunk…

Should I go to bed?


That settled it. They crashed in their sleeping back in the linoleum back hallway of the house. Despite the creepiness of the situation, they were both too exhausted and tired to care.

That changed when they woke up, miles away from civilization, to find their sole means of transportation vanished. Like a ghost.

stupid stupid stupid 



Permanent Link

The Bitter Brewer: Chapter 14


Photo from

Note: The following is a fictionalized story written as a chapter a day for the National Novel Writing Month challenge. It’s inspired by real life places, events and, of course, beer. Catch up with previous chapters here

Todd wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

He woke up at his usual 4 am. But on a stranger’s couch. He couldn’t move.

Pain seared through his muscles. He saw flashes of sharp blinding light when he tried to move his neck from side to side.

Was he poisoned? Did he get in a bike accident? Was he paralyzed? Why wouldn’t his muscles work? 

He had a sudden bout of panic. Then it all started to come back to him. He began piecing it together.

The couch he was on belonged to a brewer who worked at the Arcadia brewery. Rachel was her name. She had just finished her shift and was drinking in the bar when John and Todd finished their bike ride and arrived.

She bought them their second round, cans of Sky High Rye. John did most of the talking to explain what Todd was doing in Michigan on a bike. Todd was his usual non-talkative self, and he was too tired to really think, anyway.

Sensing that Todd was ready to fall asleep any minute, Rachel offered to give him a ride home and let him stay at her house. To some people, it may have seemed strange for a woman to invite a smelly, dirty guy who looked a death metal band guitarist into her home.

But Rachel was used to treating guys like this like a brother. She had broken into a male-dominated industry and wasn’t easily intimidated by anyone. She could throw around a 50-pound bag of barley if she needed in her brewing engineer job. She commanded respect.

Rachel was the one who loaded up Todd’s bike in her truck for him as he crawled in the passenger seat. He actually fell on the way to her apartment, and Rachel had to shake him awake to get him to walk up the stairs. He didn’t seem drunk, just really, really tired.

Now Todd remembered falling asleep last night. He felt bad for his rudeness of just walking into a stranger’s house and immediately falling asleep. At the same time, he thought that made things easy for a host.

Slowly he started to try to sit up. He realized he could move his muscles, they were just incredibly sore and stiff. Like nothing he’d ever felt before.

He was incredulous that he had biked 30 miles the day before. How had he accomplished such a feat when he felt so awful now?

Some might call it beginner’s luck. But the technical term would be Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

In effect, the cycling he had done was so intense — at least by his sedentary standards — that the tears in his muscles took awhile to register with his body. It wasn’t used to this kind of strenuous activity.

What this meant was that he functionally couldn’t get out of bed. He stopped struggling to attempt to move.

He realized this was the most calm he had been since he laid in bed and decided that he was going to take this road trip. After that he always had someplace else to be. The next town. The next place to stay. The police station… the next police station.

For a very long time, he was still.

Todd wondered why he had started this road trip to begin with, and where he was going. Was he running away from something? Was he retreating and turning his back on all he knew? Or was he just recharging his batteries, stepping away from all that was comfortable so he could appreciate it from a new perspective?

Was that just something he was telling himself?

As he laid there, he noticed for the first time that there was a silence between his thoughts. There was space where there once was none. He was used to the jumble of noise in his brain, whether it had to do with the recipe he was brewing or the din of death metal music that consumed his head. He never had time to just sit with himself. Now he had no other choice.

It didn’t feel like an indulgence. It just felt natural.

Todd wasn’t sure how long he was laying in that state. Could have been 5 minutes. Could have been an hour.

Eventually, his thoughts returned to what he had to do next. His plan was to bike up to Grand Rapids next. But that was 60 miles away.

Maybe it was time to get moving if he had any hope of getting there before dusk. The days were getting shorter, after all.

So he tried to get up.

And yet again, pain seared through his muscles. He saw flashes of sharp blinding light when he tried to move his neck from side to side.

He couldn’t move.

For the first time since he started this road trip, he wouldn’t be going anywhere today.

Permanent Link

<< Latest News Older News >>
In Association With:

(0.32 seconds) 02:57:13,