Faced with the strain of a maxed-out capacity and ever-increasing demand, and at a point where many breweries opt to go BIG, Chicago’s inventive Off Color Brewing took a step back, and decided to build a better mousetrap.
Off Color built Mousetrap, (its name inspired by the mouse that frequents the brewery’s imagery). And like their tiny mascot, Mousetrap has smartly embraced being small.
In fact Off Color’s new brewery was built to produce far less beer than their original Northwest Side operation…and most of the beer brewed at Mousetrap is expected to be consumed there.
“We took the same amount of money that we could have used to build a much larger brewery to build a smaller brewery that focuses on profitability and specialization,” Off Color co-founder and brewer John Laffler, told the Chicago Tribune.
As we recently explained staying small is fast becoming craft beer’s next big thing. And increasingly breweries like Off Color are addressing craft beer’s changing landscape with a refined sense of scale that allows for many benefits.
Small breweries and their taprooms are now one of craft beer’s most persuasive draws.
In addition to the small brewery taprooms providing inherent marketing and branding opportunities…there are tremendous financial advantages as well.
Breweries that can sell directly to their fans can enjoy better profitability…There’s less of the hassles that goes with wider distribution and no money is lost on wholesalers juggling multiple brands.
And Off Color is proudly an almost anti-mass market brand.
They’ve built their considerable reputation brewing the unusual. They’ve brewed beers like Qingming, an ancient ale inspired by early Chinese brewing practices that Off Color crafted for Chicago’s famous Field Museum.
And It’s telling that the only IPA’s offered at Mousetrap’s handsome new former brick rail station venue, are brewed by friends like 3 Floyd’s, not by them.
Laffler would rather use both of Off Color’s 20-barrel brewing operations to explore more nuanced and adventuresome directions.
Located in a pricy downtown Chicago neighborhood, it’s pretty clear that Off Color was willing to spend serious money on Mousetrap’s smartly designed look as well as on its own unique brewing independence.
“We want to be a bar with a viewpoint,” Laffler told the Chicago Tribune, “the brewery is trying to do more than just run a taproom. It’s trying to curate an experience.”
And Off Color’s Mousetrap is most definitely a serious craft beer experience….
All photo credits: Off Color Brewing