Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Odell Brewing officially taps their Woodcut series

Odell Woodcut No 1Every once in a while one of the local breweries here in northern Colorado come up with something brand new and throw a celebration. For the last year, the brewers at Odell Brewing Company of Fort Collins, Colorado have been busy using their small batch 5-barrel system creating a special Old Ale. But this isn't just a typical Old Ale, this one was to be aged in American oak barrels. The insides of these oak barrels were torched with fire. The idea was to age some of their best old ale inside these oak barrels between 4 to 8 months to extract some of the extra flavors of the wood. The oak imparts flavors of vanilla, almonds and even dried fruit.

So finally, after 8 long months of work, Doug Odell and his team finally bottled the fruits of their labor in July. About 179 cases (2148 bottles) were hand corked, signed and numbers and prepared for the big debut yesterday, Monday August 18th, 2008 at 1pm local time.

I had the pleasure of being invited to join in on this celebration. About 100 or more of the local Odell faithful gathered at the Odell tasting room for the event. Doug Odell and his staff were on hand to personally welcome all the guests and officially toast and break open the first bottle of Woodcut No. 01 - Oak Aged Ale. All of this premiere batch was put into 750ml bottles with a wire twist cork top.

The following video captured Doug Odell as he welcomed the crowd and opened the first bottle. Listen to how he describes this "Labor of Love". If you can't view it below, watch it on YouTube.

After the initial opening, the Odell staff handed out 3 oz samples of this new oak aged brew. The brew had a nice bourbon like aroma. You could tell right away that this brew had spent time mixing with the oak. I've only had the pleasure of tasting oaked beers a couple of times prior to this but this one really had quite a nice aroma to it. The beer was a dark amber, almost light brown in color and looked like a whiskey with a nice thick light tan frothy head. I wanted to smell that aroma over and over but my taste buds were yelling at me to try it.

My first reaction to this? I said simply this: "Ooooo! Nice!" Rich caramel malts. Highly carbonated too as it had a lot of bubbles coming up from the bottom of the oversized shotglass. The oak really brought out some extra flavor in this beer. I was almost at a loss for describing it. From the smell I was almost expecting a bourbon or brandy like taste but instead got a rich, smooth and almost tangy taste. This was good stuff! I purposely sipped this slow, not only because it was higher in alcohol than most beers, but also to enjoy the aroma again and again.

This beer is certainly very distinctive and unlike any other Odell beer I've tried before. I've had a glass of an experimental oaked beer they did last year - an oaked version of their 90 Shilling, but this was so much more flavorful. The beer left a very nice lacing on the glass that lasted a long, long time.

The line quickly formed to buy the 2-bottle max per person brews. The retail price of these bottles are $24.99 each. Steep yes, but for what they've done for this brew, it is well worth the price. I was graced with bottle #132. It was hand signed by Doug Odell himself on 08/13/2008.

After the festivities, I got a chance to talk with Doug about this new Woodcut series. He's needing to expand his operation in order to have adequate room for this new oak aging line. Odell is already working on Woodcut No. 02 that should debut in another 6 to 8 months. The next batch will be a Golden Ale. They won't make as much of the next batch however, so it will be a bit harder to get in stores. They plan on breaking ground late this year on an expansion that will allow them to grow their tank farm as well as add some much needed office space.

Most of this Woodcut beer was already spoken for. They had 7 cases available for the tapping party and the other 172 cases were reserved for specific stores and clients. If you happen to spot a bottle of this grab one or two of them. Drink one now and then continue to age this beer further. It's bound to keep improving for a while. Now I just have to pick a special date to open this bottle on. Either that or go out and get another bottle soon.

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