3.  Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colorado

Founded:  1989
Production:  approx 60,000 barrels

(website)

odells-beer-labels2

It’s gotta go back to home for me.  Doesn’t it always?  Something about those early years of ANYTHING.  Your first stumbling in the dark with a girl’s brassier.  Your first, horrible taste of coffee leading to that next, almost palatable, strangely forbidden sip.  The rowdy fans slamming their cold cans of Bud together at the tailgate party as you sheepishly waddle by slightly scared for your young life.  What’s the fascination with these items, I thought?  Why do I see them all around me?  For me, New Belgium and Odell’s were like two pony-tailed, Swedish foreign exchange students skipping towards me in knee-high socks while holding hands and shouting my name in unison.  Who were these devilish beauties?  Why am I so viscerally charged by them?  And how do their socks stay up like that?

Odell’s 90 Shilling remains to this day one of my favorite beers of all time.  Have I had it in years?  No.  Would I recognize it in a blind taste test?  Probably not.  But just the sound of its strange name brings back memories of my days in high school…those formative years when we were stumbling awkwardly through our days, slowly developing our identities and learning to connect with (or rally against) the world.  Like the smell of burning wood which always skyrockets me back to the campsites of my youth, Odell’s beers transport me.  They were my litmus, my palate-trainers….I didn’t know it at the time, but 90 Shilling and Easy Street Wheat laid the foundation for all of my experiences to come.

So where did it all begin?  After moving to Fort Collins in the 1980’s to search out his destiny, Doug Odell followed his bliss and bought an old grain elevator built in 1915 with the plan of moving his homebrewing hobby into a full-time business.  Soon, he began to make his dreams a reality and Odell’s became the second microbrewery to open in the state of Colorado.  Employing what must have been a jury-rigged system that looked a lot like the Millenium Falcon’s engine room, they built a four-level, gravity-fed brew system which employed open fermentation tanks.  Whoa.  Now that’s a vision backed up by sheer tenacity.  And within five years, they couldn’t produce enough beer to meet the demand that the hippies, soccer moms and professionals alike began to be fascinated with.

And now, as I track their business practices and brewing experiments, they are still pushing the envelope.  They began creating barrel-aged beers in the summer of ’08, and use an ingenious five-barrel pilot system which gives their brewers the freedom to experiment with new recipes every couple of weeks.  Rock on, Odell’s.  And rock on Fort Collins.

Favorite brews:  90 Shilling, Easy Street Wheat, Cutthroat Porter

 

 

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4 Responses to “My top 5 favorite breweries: Number 3”

  1. Joe F. says:

    I remember wearing Fat Tire and Old Cherry Ale t-shirts and slapping 90 Shilling stickers on my skateboard in junior high. Not because I appreciated the complexities of a finely crafted microbrew (I doubt I would have even been able to stomach it at the time), but because I got hometown love. That, and the fact that older guys with cute girlfriends were rocking them.

  2. Katherine says:

    How come when you took me to Fort Collins, you made me visit lame spots like your high school and your old neighborhood? We should have gone directly from the airport to all these sweet breweries! Next time…okay?

  3. David H. says:

    Love Odells, New Belgium and all our hometown brews! Isn’t Ryan King a manager there now…maybe you could have him write something for your blog too. And don’t forget about Coopersmith’s!

  4. Marcel Ledy says:

    Video production at its best! Do you have any tips for someone just out of university

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