Fearful Symmetries

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28 August, 2015

Are you gassy? Is it gas?: Scurry by Off Color Brewing



When Dave Bleitner and John Laffler, the proprietors of Off Color Brewing, decided they weren't going to brook any IPAs in their line-up, they instead went out and sought obscure styles. Scurry is one of Off Color's annual brews and resurrects the old north German Kotbusser. The Kotbusser, named after the town of Cottbus, was a pale top-fermented beer that was brewed with oats and honey. It was also apparently a sour beer not unlike the Berliner Weisse. Unfortunately the beer went the way of the dodo around the turn of the 19th century thanks to the popularity of lagers and, presumably, the Rheinheitsgebot.

The only other commercially brewed Kotbussser that I've encountered is Berghoff's Germaniac. Off Color has used molasses here which may or may not be traditional. They also threw in dark malts so their spin on the style isn't pale, as you can see.

Scurry pours a deep reddish brown and I found myself again delighted by a beer that wasn't yellow or gold like all the goses and Berliner Weisses I've been quaffing lately. The beer is also clear and highly effervescent. After pouring my glass held a large tan head. Upon putting the bottle down foam immediately began to form inside of it and make its way up the neck. For an instant I was worried that I'd have one of those grade school volcano science fair demos on my hands. There were lots of bubbles going up my glass to the plus-sized head that formed on both the bottom and the sides of my glass.

The first scent on my first sniff was a metallic smell. I have read that molasses can give a metallic taste so I wonder if they were responsible for this aroma. Upon further inhaling, I didn't catch instead smelled mostly sweet scents like caramel and honey. There were also hints of roasted grains. The first taste on my first sip was carbonation which didn't surprise me considering all the foam my gentle pouring and bottle handling had produced. (I swear I handled everything with care!) Underneath the very prominent dryness and slight tartness of the carbonation I could discern hints of chocolate and even a bit of smokiness. These latter surely came from the Dark Munich and Chocolate malts and probably the molasses as well. I did not detect much sweetness which may be because of the beer's "cool, controlled fermentation".

Scurry had a light body which I think was mostly due to the over-abundance of carbonation. Had there been less of it, I highly suspect it would have had heavier body given its 5.3% A.B.V. I did notice that the beer was very smooth, likely because of the oats. The finish was dry with a hint of hop bitterness that tasted peppery. I ended up with some decent Schaumhaftvermoegen.

This beer had too much carbonation, pure and simple. My assumption is that Off Color was not intending for Scurry to challenge their own Fierce for the title of "Champagne of the Upper Midwest" and that the over-carbonation here is a mistake. The fizz is just too powerful and batters the tongue as it struggles to get a grip on the roasted grain flavors underneath and whatever other tasty treats may be lurking in the brew. Quite a shame. I intended to buy some more of this beer next time I'm in Chicago because Scurry sounds absolutely fantastic on paper and there are hints of a very tasty beer to be had but they are obscured by all of the carbonation.

Junk food pairing: Pair this extremely ebullient version of Scurry with Lay's Southern Biscuits and Gravy. Give all that carbonation a goodly amount of fat to cut through.

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|| Palmer, 11:54 AM

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