Class War
Off Color Brewing

Class WarClass War
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Off Color Brewing
Illinois, United States
Smoked Beer
Ranked #11
Ranked #8,856
4.08 | pDev: 7.6%
Nov 29, 2021
Mar 06, 2015
Class WarClass War
Notes: Gotlandsdricka, which is a Swedish variation of Sahti.

When vikings weren't drinking mead and pillaging, they would drink this high gravity smoked rye beer to kill time. Better that they were killing time than villagers. Our malt for gotlandsdricka is smoked over pear wood and then we add a bunch of honey to give it an extra kick in the skull.
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Rated: 3.86 by TMoney2591 from Illinois

Nov 29, 2021
Rated: 4.1 by BeerForMuscle from New Jersey

Oct 30, 2021
Rated: 4.19 by M4CDO from Massachusetts

Mar 02, 2020
Rated: 4.06 by dt_gbpackersfan from Missouri

Apr 05, 2019
Photo of defunksta
Reviewed by defunksta from North Dakota

4.39/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Poured from a 250mL bottle into a tulip glass at 40-45 degrees,

Look: Pours thick. A dark syrupy brown color with a cherry tint. Absolutely zero head.
Smell: Aroma of smokey, honey and charred rye aroma initially. Then a delicious smokey cocoa flavor emerges
Taste: Flavor initially of smokey, charred rye. As it progresses you get a bittersweet cocoa flavor. Then comes a pleasant sweet honey finish to round it out. Bittersweet chocolate and some juniper lingers on the tongue. Alcohol is hidden and almost not detected, which is amazing.
Feel: Drinks heavy. Thick and syrupy, but not oily. Minimal carbonation.

Overall: Get ready for a ride. What a dynamic beer. It simultaneously balances multiple flavors. Smoke, honey and rye malts, cocoa, juniper and yeast. This beer is truly a craft and meant to be sipped and tediously analyzed for its complex flavor profile. It feels like a mix between a Sahti and a smokey stout or porter. The only way to describe this would be to imagine yourself in a remote pine forest in the heart of Nordic Sweden. You take in the aroma that is of a campfire of burning pine that is roasting a loaf of rye bread drizzled with rich chocolate and honey.
Off Color has done it again with this piece of art, and hopefully setting an example for other breweries to follow suit.
Mar 17, 2019
Photo of StonedTrippin
Reviewed by StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
such a cool beer here, a smoked rye beer with honey and juniper and some things in it, really incredible stuff, among the best of the non wild beers i have had from off color, and something that seems absolutely perfect as a transition from summer to fall. the beer is thick and dark and chocolate colored, with a nice inch of head on it and great carbonation coming through the relatively dense brew. no trace of its strength in nose, interesting the honey sweetness being strong enough to stand out among the darker grain, christmas tree and campfire as well, dry cocoa, char, rye spice, and intense earthy grain, really beautiful and complex, but somehow made delicate by the floral nature of the honey and the freshness of the juniper. the smoked malt is unique, pear wood smoked, not sure i have seen that in beer before, i wonder if they do it in house. it snot overly smoked though, not acrid or bitter, its hearty beer but it is never heavy. the rye is really forward in here, offset in intensity but not in flavor by the honey. this is a great recipe and it comes together really well. i could see this being neat in a gin or even cognac barrel, some wood would be cool with the smoke, but this is one of the coolest beers i have had from these guys, which is saying a lot given the rate of innovation and success here. this is awesome beer, and with the great off color art on the label too. love these guys! as good an example of this style as i have ever had.
Sep 11, 2018
Photo of Greywulfken
Reviewed by Greywulfken from New York

4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
This beer is a take on a gotlandsdricka, which is akin to a sahti or a gruit, but traditionally brewed on the island of Gotland in Sweden; this iteration features honey, molasses, juniper berries, and pear wood house-smoked malt; it uses Pale, Dark Munich, CaraCrystal wheat, rye, flaked rye, Chocolate malts, and Nugget hops; comes in at 9.5% abv...

Pours dark brown into a nearly black body in a teku glass, with a finger of tan head on top that quickly slipped away... I've had a couple of sahti-inspired beers and a gruit, and like those, this is very interesting but may not be to all tastes. The smoked malts and juniper definitely take the fore on both the nose and palate - you can both smell and taste ash and gin-like juniper notes... Honey and molasses provide a round, rich sweetness to the sip that only lasts but a moment, before that distinct juniper flavor sweeps it away... There are some flashes of stout-like malt roastiness and the dark fruit of a Belgian dark ale, but those notes are fleeting; herbal and floral impressions come and go, with a woody, tannic accompaniment, but I keep coming back to smoky ash and juniper with an quick dash of molasses... Body is fairly light, alcohol well-hidden (unless you associate juniper with gin/alcohol, in which case you'll be reminded of it frequently), the carbonation low; moderately bitter, mildly sweet, and smooth... At Total Wine, a $14 bottle...
Jul 07, 2018
Rated: 4 by Jamison85 from Indiana

Jun 11, 2018
Rated: 3.96 by drstalker from Illinois

Apr 16, 2018
Photo of stortore
Reviewed by stortore from Illinois

4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
750 ml bottle into a tulip glass. Had 2/10/18.

Pours near black, opaque, with a one inch foamy head and some loose, spotty lacing. Aromas of rye, chocolate, caramel, smoke- more as it warms, light cola. The taste is similar: rye, stronger caramel, chocolate, lighter smoke, light juniper. A light bitterness on the finish. Smooth, a good, hefty medium body, well carbonated.

The rye and caramel are the standouts. The juniper berries have minimal presence and for me, the honey was a no- show. It’s kind of different, and it’s good. Worth a try at a decent price point.
Apr 04, 2018
Rated: 4.1 by jaydoc from Kansas

Mar 22, 2018
Rated: 4.25 by DbbC from Illinois

Jan 30, 2018
Rated: 4.31 by Ristaccia from Nebraska

Dec 28, 2017
Rated: 3.7 by HOLTMAN44 from Illinois

Oct 24, 2017
Rated: 4.04 by maz from Illinois

Sep 04, 2017
Rated: 3.92 by Duff27 from Illinois

Jun 22, 2017
Photo of dbrauneis
Reviewed by dbrauneis from North Carolina

4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
A: Pours an opaque yet still clear extremely dark mahogany brown in color with moderate amounts of fine active visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and very faint cola brown colored highlights. The beer has a three finger tall sudsy foamy tan head that reduces to a medium sized patch of medium thick film surrounded by a large patch of thin film and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Slightly heavier than moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of pear wood smoked malts and light to moderate aromas of bready + spicy rye malts. There are light aromas of juniper and honey sweetness.

T: Upfront there are slightly stronger than moderate flavors of bready, toasted, and spicy rye malts with a moderate amount of honey sweetness. That is quickly overtaken by moderate to strong flavors of pear wood smoked malts + rye. Finally there are light subtle notes of juniper towards the finish which fades quickly leaving a moderate lingering smokiness through the finish.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth with a hint of alcohol warming in the finish.

O: I really enjoyed this beer and would be very interested to an authentic original beer in the style (maybe from a local/home brewer or Swedish brewery) some day - I found this to be a very interesting beer. Fairly easy to drink and mostly hides the alcohol really well - especially in the aroma and taste.
Apr 28, 2017
Photo of LiquidAmber
Reviewed by LiquidAmber from Washington

4.19/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a dark mahogany brown with a slight, light khaki head that dissipates to a thick ring with light lacing. Aroma of mild biscuit and bready malt, smoke, hints of pine and cocoa. Flavor is a neutral, slightly sweet bready malt, dark bread, wood smoke, honey, rye bread, hints of pine, nuts and caramel. Finishes with mild honey sweetness and lingering savory smoke. Excellent, medium to heavy body, almost unctuous. A nice, smooth smoked beer with the smoked malt the centerpiece. The malt feels quite substantial, but has little flavor character of its own, supporting and displaying the smoke better than any other smoked beer I've tasted. Smoke forward, but not too brazen. A little sweeter than I expected and sweeter than a typical rauchbier. My only regret is that the juniper flavors are very mild. I don't know this style, so maybe that is more authentic than the intensity in a similar sahti. I personally would have a little more juniper flavor, but that is a small quibble; I really liked this a lot. I'm impressed that the malt feels solid but leaves the pleasant smoke flavors to be the dominate flavor with a nice touch of rye. This seems to have been distributed in very small quantities to my area, but I will absolutely get this again.
Mar 27, 2017
Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
Reviewed by 1000lbgrizzly from Illinois

3.96/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Pours a clear chocolate brown with a tan fizzy head that recedes to a ring. The smell is dominated by the smokiness, followed by a touch of pine, sweetness, chocolate, and alcohol. The flavor is also initially almost pure smoke and peat, but pine, spicy rye, charred wood, and subtle but forceful sweetness emerge on the mid- and late-palate. The feel is fairly light, finely and plentifully carbonated, with a sweet stickiness.
I was expecting more from this. I didn't know what, but with that long list of ingredients and the ridiculous style (Gotlansdricka Style Ale) printed on the side, I thought it would have more character to it. That being said, it tasted great (I love smoke), and there were nuances of all the ingredients, but they were too ephemeral for me to really enjoy them, only to note that they were there, vaguely. Perhaps my palate is too brutish for this beer, perhaps they just need to lay off the smoke. I hope a Class War v2.0 (alternatively title Cheat Sheet, Gotlansdricka for Tasteless Barbarians or the Stuffy-Nosed, or Best Served With McDonalds) comes out, with mellowed smoke and enhanced juniper/honey/pear wood to showcase the novel ingredients, for the tasteless, literally and figuratively, such as myself.
Mar 23, 2017
Photo of REVZEB
Reviewed by REVZEB from Illinois

3.84/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75
Sort of like a sahti, but more smokey and robust. The honey with the smoked wood is quite pleasant, but the ashy flowers in the finish distract. The smell lets all of these element play together nicely, complimenting each other. A fun experiment, but nothing I need to have again.
Mar 11, 2017
Rated: 4 by jakea from Wisconsin

Mar 11, 2017
Rated: 3.5 by smartassboiler from Illinois

Mar 04, 2017
Rated: 4 by egoo33 from Illinois

Feb 27, 2017
Photo of Beginner2
Reviewed by Beginner2 from Illinois

4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
I harbor no secrets about Off Color. I think their labels and website are tremendously funny. I think their dedication and effectiveness in interpreting nearly deceased styles is rivaled by only a handful of the 4000+ American craft brewers. (Although I obviously have not Had them all.) And on top of all that, Off Color is way smarter than me... certainly when it comes to beer. Last year I Had ten of their beers and if I was ever disappointed, it was because they were so good that it is nearly impossible for a young brewer to replicate the QC from one batch to the next... particularly for an obscure style or difficult yeast.

Overwhelmed by all this beer joy, I had to give Off Color a rest.

Then two months later the rest ended as I saw sitting on the shelf this smoked beer from Off Color. It revives an obscure style from a part of the world that is progressive in most ways except beer. While craft brewers attempt smoked beers, they often become an ignored offering or, usually, would rather forget the experiment. Not so with Off Color. They do their research, they interview the craftsmen of the obscure style, they learn the nearly impenetrable language of Swedish (or more likely, they fake it) and, then, when failure seems certain... Off Color produces a great beer that defies Mother Nature.

Class War is such a beer. And words cannot describe it. But since this is what we do at BA, I sally forth.
For Looks, only the foam is interesting. The rest of the Looks are not worth talking about.
For Smell, I get that there is smoke involved. Actually... it is so strong that if I said there were other aromas in the glass, I'd be faking it.
For Taste, I first thought I was drinking something weird. By the fourth sip, I knew I was drinking something great. Lesson ? Drink enough before making up your mind.
For Feel, I thought that even greatness has its limits. But, nothing bad was in my mouth.

Nothing I say is funnier or more prescient or more on-point than Class War's description on Off Color's website and I share it now.
"At 9.5% it should leave you well prepared for the brave new world we're heading into or at least blissfully despondent. Just remember, vikings didn't have health insurance either. Gonna go ahead and guess lots of us won't anymore, so we have priced Class War accordingly. Brewing for the proletariat."

Brewers probably are too sincere to venture into the dirty world of politics. But, their commentary is often enlightened and follows the adapted adage: "In Beer, truth."

2/16/18 Almost a year later, I read my review while sharing the 2018 vintage. Still great. An inveterate editor of my own work, I could not bring myself to change a word. Glad that the recipe changed so little also.

4/20/19 I should not add to the above treatise. Glad the released it again, this time on tap. Great either way.
Feb 20, 2017
Rated: 4.25 by BarrelAgedG from California

Feb 19, 2017
Photo of emerge077
Reviewed by emerge077 from Illinois

3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
Pours a dark tawny brown with plentiful foam that settles to a thin skim and spotty lacing.

Aroma is complex with light peat smoke and toasty malt.

Taste is interesting too, alternating light honey sweetness then lingering bitterness into the aftertaste. Seems a bit woody and tannic, phenolic smoke, herbal bitterness. Overall it's unique and worth a try.

As a proper Swede, i've enjoyed the very few Gotlandsdricka beers i've tried, the more rustic the better.
Feb 18, 2017
Rated: 4.48 by Commandophile from Illinois

Feb 05, 2017
Rated: 4.82 by rorda from Canada (ON)

Jul 24, 2015
Rated: 4.21 by dmgallag from Illinois

Jun 27, 2015
Rated: 3.89 by BeerOps from Illinois

Jun 24, 2015
Rated: 4.04 by MonkeyBread from Nevada

Jun 18, 2015
Rated: 4.41 by superdoopersauce from Illinois

May 30, 2015
Rated: 3.77 by GetTheYayo from Pennsylvania

Apr 24, 2015
Photo of madelfonatree
Reviewed by madelfonatree from Ohio

4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Look - I'm only docking it for the light head.

Smell - Wet cigarette smoke clothes and sour.

Taste - Growing up with a chain smoking dad I never thought I'd say this, but cigarette smoke tastes good! The sour hits right before the finish. There is no campfire, all cigarette.

Feel - Milk stout feel. Not quite the consistency of milk, heavier.

Overall - I got this in Ohio. That is unheard of. I wish I had tried Off Color in Chicago. Think cigarette put out in milk, then say "Oh yeah, tastes good."
Apr 17, 2015
Rated: 4.24 by Resuin from Massachusetts

Apr 15, 2015
Rated: 3 by apasternak from District of Columbia

Apr 15, 2015
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Rated by Rimbimhoot from Illinois

3.65/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
Probably good for the style but too spiced for my taste. Smoke, ash, tobacco, honey, ginger, light cocoa, cardamom
Apr 04, 2015
Rated: 4 by jschott75 from Illinois

Apr 04, 2015
Rated: 4.56 by mrchrisray from Ohio

Mar 19, 2015
Class War from Off Color Brewing
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 39 ratings