Friday, February 04, 2011

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXXXVIII)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the thrifty folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you get the most for your money as you explore the wide world of wine, whiskey, and beer.

It wasn't all that long ago when your craft beer options at most Twin City liquor stores usually consisted of local favorites (Sunmit, Surly, Lake Superior, Liftbridge), regional offerings from Wisconsin (Capital, Rush River, Tyranena) and Illinois (Goose Island, maybe Two Brothers), and a limited number of brands with a wider distribution (Sam Adam's, Red Hook, Sierra Nevada, Full Sail, Bell's, Pyramid, Widmer, Big Sky). In the last few years, a number of new craft brewers have entered the Twin Cities market. It seems like it started with Colorado's New Belgium, best known for their Fat Tire Ale. They've since been followed by brewers such as 21st Amendment (California), Founders (Michigan), Great Lakes (Ohio), Magic Hat (Vermont), Tallgrass (Kansas), New Holland (Michigan), and Deschutes (Oregon) among others. It's never been easier to find good beer in the Twin Cities , whether on the shelf or on tap, than it is right now.

One of the latest brewers to make their product available here is Colorado's Odell Brewing Company:

Doug, Wynne and Corkie Odell started their brewing odyssey in 1989 in a converted 1915 grain elevator located on the outskirts of downtown Fort Collins. Odell's was just the second microbrewery to open in Colorado. No one knew what "craft beer" was in those early days of the industry and we had to educate our first customers on what exactly it was we were trying to sell them. Not home brew, or worse, bathtub brew, but small batch, hand-crafted, commercially brewed distinctive beers. Our success was immediate.

Doug brought his passion for crafting great beer to our new brewery. Starting in his kitchen in Seattle, Doug had spent ten years refining recipes and playing with brewing processes until he settled on two perfect recipes, although not yet the names - 90 Shilling and Easy Street Wheat. After brewing and kegging his beer, Doug would deliver it, pick up empties, and make sales calls out of his old mustard-colored Datsun pickup. Corkie cleaned out the tanks and Wynne paid the bills.

Flash forward to 1994 and you'll find us in our newly constructed brewery, a vast 8,000 square feet, working hard to brew 8,300 barrels of beer. Two short years later, we amended our draft-only focus, added a bottling line and started churning out six packs for the drink-at-home fans. Numerous small expansions ensued. By 2009, having outgrown every inch and aspect of our brewery, we doubled our plant size to 45,000 square feet and our beer sold to 45,000 barrels - one barrel per square foot!

Today we're 57 co-workers strong and still dedicated to sharing our passion for delicious beer with our ever-growing family of fans. Experimentation with beer recipes, barrel aging and yeast cultivation coupled with our dedication to our customers and each other keep our creative juices flowing and our reputation for excellent, innovative beers growing.

We warmly welcome Odell to the area and feature their 90 Shilling Ale as our beer of the week.

We introduced 90 Shilling, our flagship beer, at our opening party in 1989. For a while, we’d been wondering what would happen if we lightened up the traditional Scottish ale? The result is an irresistibly smooth and delicious medium-bodied amber ale. The name 90 Shilling comes from the Scottish method of taxing beer. Only the highest quality beers were taxed 90 Shillings. A shilling was a British coin used from 1549 to 1982. We think you’ll find this original ale brilliantly refreshing, and worth every shilling.

Label has a paper-like quality that's pleasing to the touch. Buff colored background with an artistic rendering of a coin featuring the beer's name in yellow & blue over a mountain river. Well-designed.

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 5.3%

COLOR (0-2): Copper brown, slightly cloudy. 2

AROMA (0-2): Sweet malts, but faint. 1

HEAD (0-2): Off-white color. Not much volume, but laces the glass nicely. 2

TASTE (0-5): Malt and caramel flavors at the beginning with a bit of hops at the finish. Thin mouthfeel and medium-bodied. Goes down pretty easy. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Well-balanced sweet and bitter flavors linger. 2

OVERALL (0-6): A decent if not especially noteworthy Scotch Ale. The flavors are smooth and balanced and it's a wee bit lighter and more drinkable than many Scotch Ales. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 14