It is a grace of the geographic gods that we live in Colorado and have direct and immediate access to the quality of craft brewing we do. Led by Wynkoop Brewing in 1988, one by one new craft brewers have come on the scene upholding an already high standard, while pushing the hops and barley to new levels of greatness. On the heels of Wynkoop, came Odell and on their heels, New Belgium [first wind-powered brewery in the U.S.]. Other feathers in Colorado’s beer cap include Oskar Blues, Avery, Breckenridge, Left Hand and Upslope. I told you we were spoiled.
Odell has grown to a 45,000 square feet facility, that produces 45,000 barrels of beer each year [a tidy barrel per s.f.] and they also have a large tap room in which to taste their beers – ones commercially available, and ones only available on-site. We ordered two samplers – each with 6 different 3 oz. pours – the Classic [$4.] and the Co-Pilot [$8.]. The value of all sampler purchases is donated to charities in the area, and that feels good. The Classic has all the usual Odell suspects: 90 Shilling [hubs’ go-to favorite], Easy Street, Levity [my go-to favorite], 5 Barrel, Cutthroat Porter and IPA. The Co-Pilot has richer beers including the Hiveranno [American Wild Ale] and my favorite of the day’s tastings, the Mash of the Titan, made with 65% dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, vanilla and coffee. Between the two flights, ABV, or alcohol by volume, ranges from 4.6% in the Easy Street to 9.5% in the Hiveranno. They have snacks on hand for purchase, because it’s a good idea. Focusing on Colorado produced snacks, and more locally, Fort Collins produced, we had Roberto’s Peach Salsa and chips [$7.50; Ft. Collins], Olomomo Nut Company Cherry Vanilla Cream Almonds [$3.50; Boulder] and Nita Crisps [$3.00; Ft. Collins].
The support of craft brewing is a state of mind, part of a lifestyle. It’s interesting to read the story of a business [studies show this to be the most visited page on business websites] and with craft beers, it’s ever more interesting to be told the story of each beer – what inspired it, what it’s made from. Just to see the font on Odell’s packaging puts you in a certain mood – playful, open-minded, creative – and was designed by their ad agency out of Bend, Oregon. No staid Times New Roman or boring Arial here. Each label is a piece of art and inspires by its sheer uniqueness. In the tap room, there are canvases painted for each of the classic beers, which is a nod to the artisanal, creative quality of what goes on there. It’s a big bonus to know most of our craft breweries also embrace environmental stewardship, social and cultural change, fiscal responsibility, transparency and just good ‘ol fun. Oh yes, and the beers are fantastic too.