If you’re not paying close attention, you’ll drive right by the entrance for Outfit Brewing.
Even with the help of your phone’s map app, it’s reasonable to wonder if you entered the wrong address as you pull into the parking lot for Standard Insurance just off of Highway 114 in the industrial area near where John Carpenter and Airport Freeway merge. Thankfully, there are a couple of yard signs helping you out, and as you park, there are a couple of cute wooden signs on the building’s brick wall pointing you to the right for insurance and to the left for beer.
Open since August 2018, Outfit Brewing occupies the back half of the Standard Insurance building that used to function as warehouse space for the locally-owned insurer. Outfit’s founder, Jordan Young, is the grandson of Standard’s founder, so the location makes perfect sense when viewed in such a scope.
After sampling all nine beers available on draft during a recent Saturday visit, it’s clear Outfit knows its way around crafting a solid beer. The available selections leaned heavily toward the crisper, hoppier and lighter-colored end of the spectrum, with only the Session Milk Stout (4.5 percent ABV) and the Hoppy Red (5.25 percent ABV) offering a bit of deeper darkness.
But it was those two brews that underwhelmed the most, with the Hoppy Red not offering enough of the hop kick nor the maltiness one might hope for in a red ale. The Session Stout, simply put, was far too much “session" and not near enough “stout.” It’s worth noting that the rather crushable, perfect-for-the-front-porch Finnie Moe Cream Ale, at 4.7 percent ABV, is heftier in just about every way imaginable than Outfit’s lone stout offering.
But the other beers all offered plenty to cheer. The Sabrina Red IPA (6 percent ABV), a style I wish more local brewers would attempt, offered a perfect balance of hop citrus with a slight backbone of toasted malt flavor. Another pleasing combo was found in the Cletus saison (6.5 percent) with a twinge of farmhouse funk giving way to a crisp, clean finish. The Leonard Brut IPA (6.7 percent), with a stunning white wine scent and deceptively sweet but dry finish, was a genuine standout. Even in a city bubbling over with IPAs, the Leonard would stack up well against any other quirky take on the IPA from any other brewer around town, new or old.
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With its beers all hovering below 8 percent ABV, and its printed bar menus bearing repeated mentions of adjectives such as “refreshing” and “session,” Outfit wants to brew beers that people will relax and enjoy for a bit. And to its credit, the former insurance warehouse has been successfully turned into an inviting space that anyone would feel welcome to hang out for an afternoon in. Plenty of tall pub-style tables are neatly arranged with a massive wall-mounted Scrabble set and retro Golden Tee video console within easy reach.
A covered patio with wooden picnic tables makes you forget you can get a quote on car insurance a few feet away. With baseball season ready to bloom, an appropriate analogy is that Outfit Brewing isn’t necessarily hitting any towering homers right now, not because there’s a lack of power, but at this point at least, because they’re not swinging for the fences as much as they’re looking to simply make solid contact to get on base and generate runs in a more understated, methodical manner.
Outfit Brewing, 7135 John W. Carpenter Freeway