Sunday, February 8, 2009

Odell Red Ale review

Odell Red AleIt was back in January 2009 when Odell Brewing Company of Fort Collins, Colorado announced that they were discontinuing their Single Batch Series of seasonal brews. Soon after they announced that their new Odell Red Ale was going to replace the Extra Special Red as their new February through May seasonal. I wondered how the new Red Ale would stack up to the old red. Tonight I got my chance to try it for the first time and let me tell you, get ready for some hops!

Odell Red Ale is an American Red ale but with a big dose of hops thrown in. Odell warns you on their label that this beer is like a Rocky Mountain goat, both come with a big kick and in this case the kick comes not from the alcohol but from the hops.

Appearance: Red Ale poured a nice copper red color with a gigantic 4-finger off-white tall head. I had to stop pouring for a minute to get the entire 12oz bottle into my glass. As the foam settled a bit it left a clingy lacing along the glass. Nice start to this beer! It was decently carbonated and was a cloudless brew - very clear.

Aroma: My first sniff - WOAH - hops! If you can imagine the guy in the "Burger King Angry Whopper" commercial reacting to the hot onion, that's exactly the reaction you get when you smell the hops. "HOPS! HOPS!". The hops were very dominant in the aroma. It was fresh, spicy, piny and grassy all at the same time. The aroma nearly reminded me of a liquid pine cleaner dissolved in water. Strong! I believe they've created a hop monster here.

If the smell was any indication of what was to come, I knew this beer was bound to be on the bitter side. And yes, indeed it was. The hops really dominated the first few sips of this beer. Very hoppy and bitter. There was no apparent sweetness here. The malts were subdued by the strong bitterness up front. It quickly dried my mouth and left a slight piny aftertaste.

Taste: This beer is NOT the same as their retired Extra Special Red. The hops here are turned way up a notch. It's not a starter craft beer, so noobies, beware! Luckily, after a time, the malts start coming through after it warmed up a bit. Your mouth just has to get over the initial shock of the bitterness, then you can taste a more balanced beer. It took a good 1/3rd of the glass for the hops to settle back a bit.

This beer begs to be paired with some spicy food. Tacos, Chinese, Cajun or perhaps Indian food would do well with this beer. I'm calling this an India Red Ale. It could easily pass for an IPA. Hops heads will want to seek this beer out for sure.

Overall: While I've just recently became a hop head myself, it's been a couple of months since I've had a big hoppy beer and I think I needed to get my tongue wet again on something this hopped up. One of these beers was just fine for an evening. At 6.5% ABV, it's above being a session beer and into the class of brews that need respect.

Odell Brewing has created a hop monster of a seasonal ale. While it's not my old Extra Special Red, it'll do just fine I think. It's worthy, but don't drink one by itself, eat something with this beer. I enjoyed it, but needed something afterward to cleanse the palate. A sharp slice of cheese did just the trick.

If you like your hops big, you'll love the new Red Ale.

Related articles:
- Odell to discontinue Single Batch Series.
- Odell drops, adds beers.
- Odell releases Hand Picked Pale Ale.

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