Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's Cooking at Odell

Every once in a while, you can get a peak inside a great brewery's mind not by watching its bomber release schedule but by visiting its taproom. And a trip to Odell Brewing this weekend showed that the brewing legend continues to push the envelope with taste but also is adding a new dimension in subtlety.

Yes, there was the Hiverrano New American Wild Ale, the wild-yeast-fermented alcohol bomb that comes on with a low-profile sour sting but leaves you with a root-y, earthy feel of experimentation in your mouth. And there was the Bourbon Barrel Stout, complete with a whiskey mouthfeel that complimented the dark malt.

But the gem of the day was the Fall Harvest Ale, a citrus-and-coriander-laden concoction with a very smooth malt backbone that resembled a summer ale with actual heft to it. And there was the Nacho Cuppa Joe, a nitro-infused coffee porter that didn't scrimp on the java taste but smoothed it out with nitrogen to make it more accessible. The taproom also featured a Raspberry Stout that was neither fruity enough nor dark enough to match up to the other experiments on tap.

What does this all say? Well, it means that the brewery that dedicated 50 percent of the space in its 2010 expansion to barrel-aged and experimental beers isn't looking just to go over the top. And while one might wish it was when you taste something sublime like the multidimensional sour Friek - set for release Saturday - it also means Odell can broaden its appeal to a lot of different drinkers.

And it can surprise you with tastes like a Fall Harvest Ale, which, much like the superbly crisp Kolsch it rolled out at select beer festivals this summer, could hit shelves one day and serve as a fantastically easy-drinking alternative to other seasonals on the market. And, subtle as that may be, it is an experiment to redefine the styles that everyone - not just us hard-core beer geeks - are drinking.


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