Podcast Episode 101: Off Color Brewing's John Laffler: Turn Down the Volume, Focus on the Harmony

Laffler has a reputation for strong opinions, and in true form he pulls no punches in this episode with honest, bombastic takes on brewing philosophy and techniques.

Jamie Bogner Sep 20, 2019


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"If we’re just going to come out and make the same beers as everybody else, what’s the whole point of this?" says Off Color Brewing Cofounder John Laffler. "I could make more money working somewhere else, and work a lot less, if we’re just going to make the same pale ale as a brewery down the street. I don’t get the point of doing all this if you’re not doing it for a reason, and for us it was to make the beers we think should be made. if you’re into Pale Ale, that’s great—you all do you. For us, that wasn’t it."

Risk is in the DNA of Chicago, Illinois' Off Color Brewing, and for Laffler, that means charting new territory in mixed-fermentation beer, focusing on subtlety and nuance over intensity and strength, and playing the long game in building an artistic brand that is not meant to appeal to everyone. In this sprawling conversation, he shares his thoughts on why more brewers should be dumping beer ("If you're not taking enough risks... you're not trying hard enough"), using malt bill and fermentation techniques to tweak yeast ester expression in farmhouse ales like their flagship Apex Predator, how American brewers have all but ruined the Gose style ("It does not make a bit of difference what type of sale you use"), corralling and developing wild cultures using selective pressure to bring out desired traits, rustic sake fermentation, and much more.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].