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Former Goose Island, Two Brothers Brewers Team Up at New Logan Brewery

 Dave Bleitner of Two Brothers and John Laffner of Goose Island launched Off Color Brewing this year.
Off Color Brewing
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LOGAN SQUARE —If Logan Square is becoming Chicago's new restaurant row, it may be soon become its craft brewing row.

Off Color Brewing owners John Laffler and Dave Bleitner are following the likes of Revolution Brewing and the Ale Syndicate in tapping into the neighborhood's growing beer-loving culture.

But, like the Ale Syndicate, Laffler says Off Color is sticking to making suds —  not serving them directly to customers in its own bar.

"The question is always, 'Oh, are you going to have a brew pub?' and we're like, 'No, we're not,'" said Laffler as he sat in the brewery's private beer garden enjoying a glass of Tonnere Neige (French for thundersnow), a collaboration between Off Color and Three Floyds.

Instead, Off Color has been happy to offer its draft beers at bars and eateries across the city, including Longman & Eagle, The Publican and Hopleaf, and in a few weeks time, will begin bottling the stuff to sell in six packs at boutique liquor and grocery stores.

The brewery is tucked away in the western and decidedly un-trendy part of Logan Square at 3925 W. Dickens Ave., near Pulaski Road and Palmer Street.

In a nondescript warehouse they make their unique blend of wheat beers and ales and attempt to tame the lactobacillus bacteria, which unfettered can quickly ruin a beer's taste, but when controlled can create a "nice little tartness" as Bleitner describes it.

"It gives it this real strong, clean sourness," he said. "But technically it's a beer spoiler so that's why we have to pasteurize it."

It's these special processes that make Off Colored Brewing's beer special, he said.

"We just use simple ingredients, but complicated processes," Bleitner said.

"It's kind of like the Italian food model," Laffler added. "It's all in the technique."

The two picked up those techniques at the Siebel Institute of Technology, the oldest brewing school in the United States — which just happens to be located in Chicago.

The two met at Siebel and while Laffler went on to work at Goose Island and Bleitner went on to Two Brothers, they always talked about opening a brewery together. They climbed the ranks at their respective breweries until they were ready to make the leap from their old breweries and start doing it for themselves.

"It was just time in our professional development to do it," Laffler said. "As you learn more, you get to do more, and then you get to know what you're doing, and then you open a brewery."