Footprint, a new single-serve release from Odell Brewing Company, was brewed to recognize all of the ten states in which Odell beers are sold. The concept is interesting; include an ingredient that exemplifies each state. That makes for a lot of ingredients. Any brewer will tell you that a lot of ingredients can be a recipe for disaster.
I myself have participated in just such an experiment. A British/Finnish friend proposed a homebrewing challenge to make Van Rompuy, a beer to represent the European Union. There are twelve stars on the EU flag. We would devise a recipe that would include twelve ingredients, each one representing a country of the EU. Through two iterations of this brew we used hops from Slovenia, yeast from Belgium, malt from England and Germany, Spanish orange peel, Italian wine grapes, and even potatoes from Poland, among too many other things. The first was a bit of a muddled mess. The second was somewhat more successful, but still needed a good bit of tweaking. Perhaps presciently, in both beers Greece ended up setting the whole thing off balance.
Could Odell possibly pull off this same sort of challenge? It’s a complex mix; hops and barley from Colorado and Idaho, wheat from Kansas and Wyoming, prickly pear from Arizona, Minnesota wild rice, New Mexican green chilis, South Dakota honey, and finally oak barrels from Missouri. As if that weren’t enough, this 9.5% monster is blended from different batches; 40% aged in oak barrels, 40% with “natural flavors added,” 10% aged in wine barrels, 5% brewed with honey, and 5% brewed with wild rice. Sounds to me like a cluster-fuck in the making.
Here’s my notes:
Aroma: Light, bright, and fruity. Yellow grapefruit pulp with canned peaches. There’s a subtle peppery spice and an even more subtle note of wood. A bit vinous and somewhat saison-like.
Appearance: Dark golden in color, leaning toward amber but not quite making it there. Hazy. The full, fluffy, ivory head stuck around for quite a while before dissipating into a film on the surface.
Flavor: There is a lot going on here. Honeyed malt and canned peaches start things off. Midway through some vinous, white-grape notes come in with a bit of wood in the background. It ends sharply bitter; hitting at the back of the throat on the way out. Throughout are alternating waves of peppery spice, golden raisins, honey, citrus pith, orange peel, and even herbs like thyme and oregano (am I crazy?). Hold it in your mouth and you taste prickly pear (and yes, I do know what prickly pear tastes like). As it warms, fresh oak hangs on after the swallow. The only detraction is alcohol that verges on hot.
Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-full body, but high attenuation minimizes the heft. Highly effervescent, almost carbonic. Alcohol is definitely warming.
Overall Impression: Mmmmmmmmm…Like a strong saison or a super-spicy tripel. I don’t know that Belgian yeast was used, but that’s the impression the beer gives. It’s complex and layered. There is a s#@$-ton of stuff happening, but it doesn’t come off murky or muddy. My only complaint is that the alcohol is a tad hot and at the end of a bottle it becomes a bit sticky on the palate (I know, who said I should drink a whole bottle of 9.5% ale. But it was good.)