The Christmas craft season boasts no shortage of bold, boozy delights. And sure, that bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout is the near perfect accompaniment to a relaxing Christmas evening. But down a bomber of the good stuff and your speech patterns will cause aunt Martha to launch into a diatribe about your life decisions. Enter Odell’s Isolation Ale—a rare sessionable winter warmer that trades cloying spice for easy-drinking balance.
Appearance and Aroma
Odell’s Isolation Ale is a pretty beer, with a dark amber body and thick creamy head. Simply put, this looks like a beer you’d drink to warm you in the winter. In another welcome change of pace, Isolation Ale smells less cloyingly spiced than most winter warmers. It’s a fairly mild aroma overall, but what is there is a pleasant combination of woodsy, earthy hops, and sweet malt. The traditional spice aromas are barely present. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to name this as a winter warmer based on aroma alone, and I don’t mind one bit.
Good beer doesn’t have to be complicated beer, and Odell brings that ethos to life with Isolation Ale.”
The flavor follows the aroma with the only real spice coming from the spicy hops. Isolation Ale doesn’t pioneer any new taste territory, but relies on a time-tested recipe for success: sweet malt and bitter hops in balance. It has enough going on to keep my interest without hammering me with Christmas spices. The 6.1% ABV stays out of the way and allows that balance of flavors to shine. This is a beer that is simultaneously in season and sessionable, which is exceedingly uncommon among Christmastime brews.
Winter warmers are almost universally bad. They are often over-spiced and under-hopped, with the end result being a sweet and medicinal drinking experience. Odell’s Isolation Ale may not wow with big, bold flavors, but it doesn’t have to in order to rise to the top of its style. It is the kind of beer that allows you to have more than one, and to focus more on who you are drinking with rather than what you are drinking. Good beer doesn’t have to be complicated beer, and Odell brings that ethos to life with Isolation Ale.