Odell Brewing Company- Fort Collins, CO
One overcast September day, Odell Brewing harkened me to the Mecca of craft brewing, Fort Collins, for a few cozy tasters in their amazing taproom. As Lee Holliday and the Time Off crooned scintillating blues for the live music night, I admired the walls, embellished with huge rich oil paintings of their highly recognized and highly revered microbrews: Cut Throat Porter, Easy Street Wheat, Levity Amber, IPA, and of coarse 90 Shilling.
I was warmly welcomed from the overcast sweater weather by Kailey Schumacher, who had no idea who I was or what PorchDrinking is all about. Regardless she generously poured me some ounces of Odell’s experimental and truly unique brews, sat down with me and glowed as she reflected over her last two and a half years of working in the taproom. “The best part about this place is finding non-beer drinkers who are pleasantly surprised by how different our recipes are here or just expanding peoples taste palates in general.” Schumacher was definitely not just tooting the horn of Doug Odell’s brainchild either, the second oldest Colorado microbrewery has a Phelps-like record at the GABF and with the Pilot microbrew system, brewers and taproom employees alike are required to come up with new and unique recipes.
The pilot system is a small batch brewing method that yields only about five barrels of beer, or ten kegs. To put that into perspective, the state-of the art brewery yields about 52,000 barrels a year. So these Pilot beers are a unique big kid playground that allows creativity, education and collaboration back to the company that has perfected some of our all-time favorite hits of beer like their IPA. An annual treat for Fort Fun is when the collaboration beer is brewed on the Pilot system, which is a camaraderie effort from many brewers from all over Fort Collins, which I have to just imagine is the most amazing beer ever created by the proverbial gods of hop. Amanda Johnson-King is the marketing and branding manager at Odell and she has been with the company for eleven years, so she has witness the doubling and quadrupling of distribution, production and expansion that Odell has going for it. Johnson King beamed that Odell shoots for a 10 percent annual growth goal, small enough so as not to overextend but big enough so brewers continue their quest to produce the most original beers in the country. “We are all about upholding the integrity of the beer, with just ten states in our distribution, we can focus on the quality from brewery to consumer,” said King-Johnson
Speaking of integrity, when it comes to Doug, his wife Wynne and his sister Corkie, the business is kept all in the family, extended to the 70 employees and the city of Fort Collins. Odell has an amazing resume of giving, and while I loved my free beers, their copious charities efforts go from the bottom up. All taproom taster money go to a different monthly charities as well as some bulk donations at various charity events. “Giving is a culture here, not a PR stunt,” said Schumacher. The taproom donations range from an average of $2,000 a month, but with a busier month the numbers can far exceed this. Odell Outreach gave a helping economic hand to at rick youth, cancer patients, single parent families, and the elderly, as well as supporting education for environmental awareness.
Sustainability is a cornerstone to the mission at Odell. The new brew house and taproom was completed in 2010 and was their forth expansion since Odell’s inception in 1989. The state of the art complex boasts a roof comprised of solar panels on the west side, technically referred to as a 76 watt photovoltaic system which covers 25 percent of their energy needs. The rest of the energy comes from wind power in their grid, an alternative that has been on the rise all over Colorado and Wyoming.
But before we give Doug, Wynne, Corkie and all their employees a Nobel Peace Prize, I should really get back to their beer. Besides the trust worthy staples, their seasonal and specialty beers are equally unique and tantalizingly delicious. I was given a bomber of Meddler and Mountain Standard Time (before the official release) by my new best friend Kailey. Meddler is a resurrected recipe born in Flemish Belgium. It’s a mix of barrel-aged sour ale that hangs out for about 18 month and a smoother brown ale. The result is an incredibly balanced 8.9 percenter that starts malty sweet chocolate and finishes with an earthy sour finish. What I liked about Meddler is it is a sour, but not a kick in the salivary glands like you just ate a Warhead kinda sour, more like a caramel Granny Smith apple on a bright fall day kinda sour. Mountain Standard Time is a double black IPA whose sexy Colorado labeling is almost as seductive as the thick dark magic inside. This beer is sure to have a great following at GABF so if you have the opportunity to try MST, don’t miss out because its sure to run out fast. And finally, the Woodcut Series are like the beer equivalent to a French wine. If you haven’t had any yet, do yourself a favor and shell out the $30, Odell makes the best barrel aged beer in the country and probably the world, hands down to pound town.