Off Color’s Tooth and Claw Lager: 180 Million Years to a Tap

At the age of seven it seemed like the longest word I had yet heard of: Paleontologist. No doubt my parents would recall that practically nothing but dinosaur this or dinosaur that left my mouth for much of the next few years. There was relatively little literature in the early 1970s for the novice about Dinosaurs; I devoured everything I could find. And though it was a fair distance from our rural Illinois home, my parents regularly indulged and encouraged my passion with regular trips to Chicago’s Field Museum.

I dreamed one day of being a Paleontologist. I wrote a letter to the head of the department at the museum and got a reply encouraging me to pursue my studies, and that one day I might be a famous scientist. I still have the letter somewhere. I pursued a career in art instead, and ended up in broadcasting, an author and in logistics.

In a few years I’ll approach five decades since I first walked through the doors and beheld the mind awakening majesty of the great hall. The Field Museum has changed much in that time. Still, in all that time it has never lost its breathless wonder for me. From the halls that map the evolution of the planet and its myriad and wondrous life forms, to the eternal assertions of the ancient Egyptians and the legacy of the vibrant indigenous cultures who effused the Americas for more than 13 millennia before Columbus and the Europeans arrived. In my dreams I retrace those uncountable steps which have come to help guide and define my understanding of the world and my place in it.IMG_3933

And so, in a word, the Field Museum is about evolution, and evolve it has. On Saturday’s radio show, (11am on AM1680, que4.org) a friend of the station shared samples of a local Craft beer available only at the Museum’s new, The Field Bistro, a comfortable and elegant adult respite, features several local brews. Ah, my father would have been in heaven compared with the old days with a somewhat austere basement cafeteria of greasy fast food and fountain sodas. We sampled Tooth and Claw, Dry Hop Lager, brewed exclusively by Chicago’s own Off Color Brewing for the Bistro.

The beer poured, into a pint glass bearing its name, to a slight burnt gold, clear with a one inch fluffy white head. Breathing in a beer is essential to truly valuing the taste. This was light and bready, balanced slightly by that citrusy hint of hops. The first taste was straight forward, reminding me slightly of a freshly brewed European lager on tap at a Prague brewery in the early 1990s. Tooth and Claw, I found, had that great sense of balance between sweet malts and bitter German noble hops. I found that malty fullness first, with a citrusy bitterness that lingered for just a moment. This one I would have bared with a hearty stew hinting of fresh rosemary, grilled meat or a smoky cheese, or porcini or portabella mushrooms for our vegan friends.

I have to confess, at first I failed to recognize Off Color. The label of Tooth and Claw is dutifully understated for the museum. Beer enthusiasts, particularly in Chicago, will recognize their hand drawn cartoonish labels. Last year Revolution and Beer featured their full and rich Scurry Dark Honey Ale. Their Troublesome Gose Style Beer remains one of our favorites. Tooth and Claw proves that Off Color is moved from a competent brewer to one of the important brewing houses in the city. If you ever need an excuse to go to the museum!

It’s funny, about the time I was discovering dinosaurs as a young boy my father let me taste beer for the first time. It too was a local beer, with a ubiquitous name, and one tethered deeply to Chicago history. My palette for beer has greatly evolved since then, just as all those years visiting the Field Museum has helped evolve my intellect and sensibilities. I still find wonder in the world, and new discoveries. Hardly a year passes that I do not find myself exploring those great and seemingly endless halls. It is the sense of adventure and exploration that holds the key, whether at the museum, somewhere in the world and in a new beer. That’s the stuff.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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Revolution and Beer…of the week: Miller Lite and the pleasures of banality.

Kudos to Miller Lite! They’ve managed the impossible: removing taste from beer. It is a historic achievement, as for thousands of years the taste and ingredients of beer has been paramount to the brewer. Forget those foreigners and their insistence on flavor. Thanks to American innovation, taste and quality are a thing of the past, replaced by consistency and mass production. Normally at Revolution and Beer we review top quality craft and international beers. Today is a special day.i-dont-normally-use-beer-to-fill-my-toilets-but-when-i-do-its-miller-light

I’d recently suffered a head injury which prompted me to reach for a Miller Lite. Marketed for people who believe that “Light” is instead a four letter word, a proper Miller Lite tasting required just the right container. I have goblets, chalices, Weiss and Stout glasses, Ale glasses and steins for tastings, but nothing suitable to Miller Lite, which wouldn’t require flushing first. It needed to be perfect, in order to truly capture all of the subtly and nuance of Miller Lite. Obviously I thought a hat would be perfect.344592d1336775424-beer-carrying-spitfires-world-war-ii-1373436-beerhat_large

The beer poured to a pale golden hue, reminiscent of a dialysis patient on diuretics, and a delightfully thin head which disappeared faster than Casper the ghost in a camera flash. Immediately I sensed the aroma, which exhibited overtones of banality, with undertones of Lake Michigan water filtered through rice not destined for human consumption. The aroma reminded me of a muffler shop at closing time, with the awkward misogynist shouts of Russian middle-aged men calling after women on the sidewalk. Miller Lite boasts an ABV (alcohol by volume) just above a 4am belch after a police breathalyzer.

I do have to admit that it was a luxury not to have to think as I lifted the plastic tube to my mouth for that first gulp, not like those elitist craft beers. In fact, I actually could feel about two dozen IQ points dissolving at that moment. I was thrilled at the marvels of mass consumption, and that I was tasting precisely what 11 million other people similarly afflicted were swilling. Imagine massive tanks of what Miller can legally call beer so huge that a worker could drown in one without affecting the taste! Magnificent!light-beer-beer-bud-miller-lite-light-demotivational-posters-1340073929_zps6d8b1d99

So pick up a beer, turn on cable TV and stare at the weather channel for eleven hours, kick back with a Chalupa, make a toast to Chris Christie, tell yourself voting changes nothing, refuse to leave your couch ever again and suck on your beer hat until your cranium implodes. You’re an American dammit, and Miller Lite spelled backwards is FOX News. Wow, I really am missing those IQ points…

WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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Indiana has Beer! Lost River Blonde Ale from Cutters Brewering Company

For too many folks the state of Indiana does not necessarily evoke images of great craft beer or micro breweries. There is a tendency for fellow, and sometimes a bit too arrogant, Illinoisans to think of Indiana as that state between Chicago and Ohio, or Chicago and Michigan, or Chicago and most anywhere else east. I’ll confess to that a time or two as well. If pressed it is the land of John Cougar whatshisname, who did that song about a debutante in his backseat or something. But great beer? Not so much.100_9621

Brian and I have had beers from all around the world. I have cracked a bottle of Sarajevo Beer on the frontline of a war, argued politics with a drunken Russian at a brew pub in Budapest and imbibed freshly brewed Weiss beer in a Bavarian castle, but ask me to name an Indiana Brewery and I am momentarily stumped.

Three Floyds!

Three Floyds is a member of both the Brewers of Indiana Guild and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, so it’s easy to make that mistake. Add to my retinue of Indiana beers, Lost River Blonde Ale from Cutters Brewering Company in Avon Indiana. Deep in the heart of Indiana, you’d practically have to be lost to find this place, hidden in the shadow of Indianapolis. But in that shadow someone has learned a thing or two about brewing very pleasing and accessible beers.

Lost River poured golden and clean, with a sturdy snow-white head. The head settled within a few minutes. A really beautiful lacing clung to the sides of the pint glass. I found it nicely balanced with a slight sweetness, contrasting a grapefruity citrus bitterness. There was a breadiness that reminded me of a good pilsner, but it was hardly overwhelming. And finally, this was a really refreshing beer, bearing in mind that drinking beer in the Midwest is different than other places. A beer needs to be refreshing and casual for the average Midwest drinker, but still offer the layers and levels sought after by craft aficionados. It has to work at a ball game, at the barbeque and be conversational at the bar too. So far Lost River Blonde Ale is two for three. I’ll have to try it at a ball game sometime to see if they can go three for three.

100_9629For food, the wife and I did something simple and homey; grilled Chicken thighs, roasted potatoes and a tomato, onion and cucumber salad with olive oil and vinegar. I recommend a bit of spice with this beer. The gentle warmth of a bit of hot paprika, pepper, a touch of Giardiniera oil and basil roasted with the chicken was perfect. Keep it simple with this one. In pairing I’d recommend marinades and dry rubs for a light to medium heat rather that heavy sauces or really heavy flavors. BBQ sauce would overwhelm this beer. Brats with a pickle and a rustic stone-ground mustard would also be a fine match.

Cutters Brewing Company’s Lost River Blonde Ale makes my list of the top summer beers in the Midwest. Now, I’m looking for their Monon Wheat. I’m a sucker for a good Belgian Style Wit beer. Anybody?

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