by Stefan Sorne | Photography by Dave Barfield
Ology Brewing Co., Tallahassee’s newest brewery, is housed in the heart of Tallahassee’s historic and industrial Midtown. On cool afternoons, beer lovers can drink their carbonated hops and wheat in the taproom, or watch Tallahassee ride by through two open stock car garage doors from the 1960s.
Long before Head Brewer, Nick Walker opened the doors to Ology Brewing Co. in June 2017, generations of his family were laying the ground work for the focus of the brewery: science. Since the 1950’s, Walker’s family members were leading researchers in the science of taste, smell and microbiology at Florida State University. His grandfather, Lloyd Beidler was a prominent researcher of psychobiology and forged discoveries into the science of how we experience taste. This foundation later extended to Nick’s father, who studied olfaction (how smell affects psychology) and on to Walker who graduated with a biology and nursing degree from FSU.
After nearly a decade homebrewing, Walker’s recipes and resulting beers approached professional quality and many around him began prodding him to start a brewery, but for years the time just wasn’t right. Later, when the desire to marry science and the art of brewing became too great to ignore, he began planning. The name needed to reflect science, experimentation, perfection, and the quest to infinitely study… he knew the perfect name was Ology. The word “Ology” refers to a subject of study or a branch of knowledge.
At Ology, their focus is to revive old-world styles with innovative techniques to create new flavors and expand new styles. One of the most popular beers is their New England IPA, called Sensory Overload. This was one of the first introductions of this style to the Tallahassee community, and people keep coming back for its juicy and hoppy flavor. “I first tried a New England-style IPA from Trillium, a brewery out of Boston that was given to me by our friends over at Quick N Save.” Walker said. “It completely changed my view about what an IPA could be and I couldn’t help but share it with Tallahassee.” But because it was a new style, it took Walker days of research and 15+ brews to start building out a recipe he could be happy with and one that was true to style. It is now the highest-grossing beer Ology brews.
Joining the ranks of Sensory Overload are beer styles such as a French Saison, Belgian Golden Strong, fruited Berliner Weisses and a Session Stout. But none of these should be outdone by the brewery’s unique Kombucha offering. This fermented drink is made from a blend of black and fruited teas. Its taste is sweet, but it’s low sugar content, living probiotic bacteria, and punch of flavor make this a favorite of beer and non-beer drinkers alike.
But the quest and skill to create flavorful beers and kombuchas wasn’t enough if the community didn’t feel connected to what was being created, so Walker worked with his long-time friends and partners to define a taproom experience that invited everyone to learn and fall in love with the taste and science of beer.
Upon entering Ology, guests will notice its unique Midtown vibe, and focus on customer experience and enjoyment over all else. You’ll likely be greeted with a free sample offer or some historical background about why a style was brewed centuries ago in a French farmhouses by a host of untraditional bartenders. These staff members could talk to you about everything from their doctoral thesis to their work as an urban farmer, and Nick loves it this way – helping guests connect with their passion for science. And the customers are no less unique, many are regulars from Midtown neighborhoods, but it is also common to have world class authors, researchers, or other Tallahassee brewers stop by to enjoy some time away from the humdrums of life.
It’s commonplace around Ology for the droves to routinely exclaim their love for “Sensory Overload,” or remark that they “hate IPA’s, but love this beer!” and is a direct result of Walker’s years of dedication to the craft and his humble nature. “I’d much rather be behind the bar serving than in front of the camera. My time among the tanks and barrels creating what makes people happy is what’s most important.”
This priority is also evidenced by Ology’s commitment to serving the needs of the local community before those of a distributor. It is currently the only brewery in the city not pursuing expansion through distribution of their core beers.
Just because they they’re serving out of one taproom doesn’t mean the word about Ology is quieting down. Within the first four months of being open, the brewery received national attention from Paste Magazine for their Barrel-Aged American Sour beer that ranked in the top 10 beers at Proof’s prestigious Florida Tap Invitational. “We were incredibly humbled by the ranking.” Walker said. “This was our first barrel-aged sour, and to receive such rave reviews confirmed that what we’d worked so long for was all worth it.” This yet-to-be-named barrel-aged sour is currently bottle aging and is slated to be released for purchase this winter.
But as anticipation grows for this special release, don’t let that stop you from filling a crowler to-go or pulling up a chair at the bar and starting a conversation with the bartender. You’ll know you’ve joined a community of people who are on the same quest for great beer.
Sensory Overload (New England IPA) – Hazy | Tropical | Juicy
Sensory Overload doesn’t let bitterness get in the way as your senses go into overdrive trying to keep up with the citrus and tropical fruit flavors we’ve extracted from the hops. ABV: 6.5%
Variable #2 (Saison) – Lemony | Complex | Wheaty
Saison is traditionally a seasonally-brewed ale using grains that were available at the time. French yeast makes this light and refreshing on the palate, matching the rustic farmhouse flavors of wheat and oats.ABV: 6.5%
Quantum Stimuli (Stout) – Roasty | Deep | Creamy
Using this stout, we’ve explored how much flavor we can get into a small package. Deep malt flavors that we’ve designed to remain slightly sweet makes this a stout that can be enjoyed throughout the year. ABV: 5%
The Wall (Berliner Weisse) – Tart | Citrus | Refreshing
The Berliner Weisse is a style that was almost forgotten and has built a renewed following in recent years. The lactic acid produced as sugars get metabolized gives this beer a tart flavor. Many times fruit is used to balance this light brew. ABV: 5%
Placebo Effect (Kombucha) – Fruity | Tart | Bold
Lightly effervescent blend of fermented black and herbal teas. Full of healthy probiotics and fruity taste. Offerings rotate among three core flavors of peach, lemon ginger, and raspberry, with more arriving on tap regularly. ABV: 0.5%
Rotating specialty beers such as the P-Value, IPA and the Lord Adrian, Golden Strong come on and off the tap list every few weeks along with fruited Berliners and other heavy ABV beers. Wine and sodas are also available for those non-beer aficionados.