Odell Footprint

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:

Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colorado
Style: ????
Serving Style: 750 ml Bottle

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.)

Friek – Odell Brewing Co.

Friek = Framboise and Kriek. To make this beer the Odell brewers take a wild-fermented Kriek beer, lambic with cherries, and add locally-sourced raspberries just before blending as one would to make a Framboise, lambic with raspberries. Thus, their Kreik becomes a Friek.

Here’s my notes:

Odell Brewing Co., Ft Collins, Colorado
Style: Fruit Lambic
Serving Style: 750 ml Bottle

Aroma: Cherry pie with bready crust. A bit of vinegar with leathery, earthy, and horse-blanket wild yeast character. Loads of fresh fruit; tart berries and cherries.

Appearance: Strawberry red and very clear. Low, white head that dissipated quickly, leaving fine lace on the surface. Champagne-like bubbles.

Flavor: Wheaty malt flavors burst through the fruit and the funk, providing some residual sweetness to balance the sour. The fruit comes on strong with tart berry and cherry notes. Acidity is lower than one would expect from the aroma, but it’s plenty tart. The finish is a bit muddy. It could be drier and crisper.

Mouthfeel: Mouth-filling like a wheat beer. Spritzy carbonation that tickles the tongue.

Overall Impression: This is a beautiful beer. It’s fruity, but not sweet. It’s sour, but balanced by wheaty malt. This beer will please sour beer heads and likely be tasty to those who haven’t yet come around.

Odell Saboteur Brett Barrel Brown Ale

Odell Brewing Company has a five-barrel pilot brew house that they use to brew test batches and small release beers. One of the things to come out of this brew house is what they call the Single Serve Series. Initially intended only for draft service in their tasting room, some of these beers have been so popular that they decided to do bigger batches and bottle them for markets outside their Fort Collins, Colorado home. I had the opportunity to try one of these recently. Saboteur is a big, drinkable, sour, brown ale that I believe becomes available in the Twin Cities this week. The last time I visited the brewery in Fort Collins, they had just filled a bunch of brand new oak barrels to start a barrel-aging program. I can only imagine that this beer represents what is now being produced in some of  those same barrels. Here’s my notes:

Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colorado
Style: Brettanomyces Brown Ale
Serving Style: 750 ml Bottle

Aroma: A pleasant acidic sourness hits the nose right off, followed by toasty and lightly roasty malt. Some leathery brettanomyces notes. Caramel sweetness comes in as it warms.

Appearance: Dark brown and clear. Appears black. The moderate off-white head persisted moderately.

Flavor: Starts with intense burnt sugar and molasses. Background notes of coffee and chocolate joined by anise and loads of dark dried fruits like raisins, prunes, and cherries. The wild character is almost non-existent at first, but comes in more strongly as the beer warms, displaying leathery barnyard character. After a final shot of bitterness, the sweet finish lingers on raisins and caramel. Rich and sweet.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with moderate carbonation. Light alcohol warming. Rich and mouth filling with some creaminess.

Overall Impression: It took a few sips to take this one in. It is a big and complex beer, much bigger than I expected, with light brettanomyces funk balancing thick, sweet malt. The fruitiness is beautiful. I would have liked a bit more of the wild character. I wonder if this would come out more fully with some age. Additional aging might also allow the brettanomyces to dry it out, something that would benefit this beer.


I had the opportunity to sample the IPA from Odell Brewing. This hop-forward, American style IPA is another beer that the brewery will be launching in the Minnesota market next week. Here’s my notes:

ODell Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colorado
Style: American IPA
Serving Style: 12 oz. Bottle

Aroma: Bright citrus hops dominate the aroma, leaping out of the bottle before it is even poured. Sharp, crisp, grapefruit and lemon/lime. The hops are backed up by a lightly sweet, grainy malt with hints of caramel.

Appearance: A moderate, rocky, and persistent white head sits atop a medium-amber, crystal-clear jewel of a beer.

Flavor: The flavors follow the aroma. Sharp citrus hops dominate. The assertive bitterness is supported but not quite balanced by simple, sweet, grainy malt. There are hints of light stone-fruits floating around the background. The super dry finish favors bitterness with a lingering citrus pith flavor.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and medium carbonation. Light astringency from the assertive hops.

Overall Impression: A solid American IPA that is definitely meant to showcase hops. The hops have a nice brightness to them, but the bitterness is a bit unbalanced for my taste. I kept waiting for more malt to come through as the beer warmed, but it never did. Not bad, but I like more balance and complexity from the malt side of an IPA.

Odell 5-Barrel Pale Ale

As I posted earlier, Odell Brewing Company of Fort Collins, Colorado is set to launch in the Minnesota market on May 3rd. I have long been a fan of Odell from my many trips to Fort Collins visiting family. 5-Barrel Pale Ale is one of their regular offerings and one that will be rolled out when their beers go on sale in the Twin Cities. Here’s my notes:

5-Barrel Pale Ale
Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colorado
Style: English Pale Ale
Serving Style: 12 oz Bottle

Aroma: Fruity hops are the dominant feature; citrus, blackberry, melon, passion fruit and a hint of resinous pine. Light grainy malt with notes of biscuit and toffee. Simple but elegant.

Appearance: A moderate off-white head dissipates quickly to reveal a beautiful copper/amber color and crystal clarity.

Flavor: Toffee, caramel, and biscuit malt balances the sharp, crisp, Burton ale-like, mineral bitterness. Hop and yeast derived fruits blend well with the malt revealing melon, berry, and orange marmalade. Dry finish. Crisp and refreshing.

Mouthfeel: Medium light body and medium carbonation. Sharp, dry bitterness is not astringent, but has a biting sensation nonetheless.

Overall Impression: A very nice American/English pale ale hybrid. Has the rich malt character and sharp, mineral bitterness of a classic Burton pale ale, but the through-and-through hop flavor and aroma of an American pale. The mélange of fruits from both hops and what I took to be an English yeast strain is amazing. If you are looking for an easy drinking but flavorful pale ale that doesn’t overwhelm you with hops, give this one a try.

Odell Brewing Comes to the Twin Cities

I got a press release today from Odell Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado announcing that they would be starting distribution of their beers in the Twin Cities Metro beginning May 3rd. According to the release,  “Odell Brewing will offer 90 Shilling, 5 Barrel Pale Ale, IPA, as well as its Seasonal and Single Serve beers to Minnesota beer fans primarily in and around the Twin Cities. Brewery representative Todd Ewing will relocate to the area to help with the launch and to develop the new market.”

I have made numerous trips to Fort Collins and Odell is an outstanding brewery who’s beers I stock up on when there. Look for more announcements of release events in the near future.