Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
Odell Brewing Company hail from sunny Fort Collins, Colorado, a city which I’ll talk about relentlessly during the making of this blog. It’s the city that gave me the gift of craft beer and keeps on giving, offering my palette an increasing amount of delight upon each return. It is home to nine breweries (last time I counted) from Americas third largest craft brewer, New Belgium to operations like Pateros Creek, which basically operate out of some blokes garden shed. Odell established themselves in 1989 (in fact I recommend you read their about their history here) and have grown to become one of the most well respected breweries in the craft beer consuming world and with good reason, their beer is awesome.
A couple of years ago my dear old Dad decided he’d had quite enough of the good ship Blighty and debunked to the land of the free. Fates guiding hand just happened to send him to good ol’ FoCo before I even knew my Chinook from my Centennial and my craft beer journey began. One of the first things I do when I get to Fort Collins is head to the Odell tap room, it’s a wonderful experience getting a tray of pilot beers pretty much straight from the brewery floor, something I’d like to see more of in the UK. The pilot beers are always hit and miss but the beauty of it is that you can experience a host of taste sensations in half an hour, watch the local dudes come to get their growlers filled and smile at the tourists on the towns ‘beer trail’ which is something I recommend all British craft beer fans experience in their lifetime.
The last time I visited Fort Collins was in September 2011 and they had a new offering in the tap room that had got me very excited, Myrcenary double IPA. Weighing in at a mighty 9.3% ABV Myrcenary is Odell IPA (perhaps one of the best India Pale Ales available) but sent into overdrive. Named after the ‘myrcene’ essential oil that is found in hop flowers, Myrcenary is an excellent example of the one-upmanship that keeps craft beer exciting, beers are getting more alcoholic, packed with more malt, more hops and more flavour. There will inevitably be a point in time when the sublime becomes the ridiculous but for now I am enjoying the ride.
A matching glass is the best way to enhance the flavours.
I’m about to crack open the last bottle of Myrcenary in my flat, given to me by my Dad when he visited over Christmas. The first thing that strikes you about any Odell beer is the effort that’s gone into the design of the label, Myrcenary is probably one of the finest efforts their designer has cobbled together yet and it’s this kind of effort that makes me even more excited about the beer. As you can see, to increase the level of beer geek I have used my Myrcenary pint glass (that’s an American pint not an Imperial) instead of a snifter which is what I would normally use for a beer of this calibre.
The beer has been taken straight from the fridge, it’s served chilled in the Odell tap room so it’s served chilled in my house and between you and me this is one beer that will not benefit from being warmed up. Don’t panic, it’s not got ice crystals forming in the head, it’s probably around 6 degrees Celsius as it leaves my fridge and I’m going to spend as much time as I can enjoying it so it will have risen to around 10 degrees during it’s consumption.
Cracking open the top I can already smell the beer has a little haze creeps over the rim of the bottle, as I pour the beer my nose is filled with a massive mango aroma followed by grapefruit, lemon peel, caramel and being a high strength ale, alcohol. The beer is a lovely deep amber colour with a creamy, slightly off white head and you can see from the pour that it’s quite thick for an IPA. This thickness transfers to the mouthfeel, in fact it’s almost viscous and feels like it’s lining the inside of your mouth with its oily hop resin. The taste is a lot more bitter than the aroma, those grapefruit notes combining with the sensation of freshly cut grass (hang on, I’m having a Jilly Goulden moment here) and the alcohol giving off a gentle warming sensation.
The finish is epic and supremely bitter with grassy undertones and a warming alcohol vapour seems to gentle creep up your oesophagus. The amount of hops in this beer, as with any double IPA, are mind blowing but Myrcenary packs in stacks and stacks of sweet, caramel malt flavours that keep everything in check. The beer is well carbonated but the bubbles are tiny so while being very zingy it is also very smooth and slips down far too easily. I must’ve taken my last sip at least five minutes ago but I can still taste this beer at the back of my throat.
Myrcenary is not to be quaffed, it is not to be ‘bashed down’ (something I’m incredibly fond of doing) it is a beer to spend time with and to savour. I’m not asking you to move in with it and have its babies but a beer of this quality deserves your time and attention just as you might give a fine wine or a single malt whisky. If I had to choose, I’d take an Odell IPA over this on most occasions, it’s much less syrupy in the mouth and has less tendency to make you fall over after you’ve finished off a six-pack but for special occasions, or after a particularly awful day in the office, grab a Myrcenary.