My girlfriend’s apartment didn’t have any beer in it before I brought over Odell’s newest sour. I don’t count the stray, lone bottle of hard orange cream soda. Unlike my fridge, which has so much beer in it I barely have room for food or a slim Brita, hers is mostly sparse.
But while she doesn’t drink much beer in her home, I trust her palate. After all, when she visits my house, she often tries the beer I’m drinking. And she’s been dating me coming up on three years, which means she has great taste. I bet you can picture her rolling her eyes right now. You’re probably doing the same.
I grab a mason jar and a pint glass that looks like it’s from Home Goods from her cabinet. No fancy glassware here. She pops the beer’s cork and gives us both healthy pours. I give her the lowdown on what we’re about to taste. “It’s an imperial porter that sat in an oak barrel for a year,” I say. “They also added wild yeast strains to it. It’s a sour.” I try to give her some context for the beer, explaining that you don’t see many imperial porter sours out there.
I ask her to tell me what aromas she’s getting from the beer. “It smells like something a woman might like,” she says. “I smell cherry. It’s a little cough syrupy.” I agree with that assessment. Plenty of cherry and ripe fruit on the nose, just as Odell promised. It also smells a tad like Cherry Dr. Pepper, but not entirely in a bad way. “You’d think this smell would come from a saison,” she says. I stop taking notes after she says that, just in case she blurts out anything that could potentially sound smarter than what I was going to write.
The more you drink this, the more the cherry shines through.”
We both finally take sips. “I don’t think I like sour beers,” she says. I like sours, but this is a completely unique one, which makes it tough to judge. “When you smell this, you think you’re going to drink something that’s smooth and refreshing. But you can drink four sips and be over it,” she notes.
I’m not sure I’d go that far. The more you drink this, the more the cherry shines through. Odell says there’s also notes of chocolate, coffee, and tobacco, but it’s lost on both of us. The cherry’s the star here. The beer initially finishes sour, but the cherry flavor comes roaring back. It’s like an old friend who initially left your party, but had to come back because they forgot to grab their coat. And you’re happy to see them again when they knock on your door a little later.
After drinking this for a little, my girlfriend decides that the beer isn’t for her. She’d rather have mulled wine. Or if she were in a cherry type mood, the sweet Cherry Kriek from Denver’s Strange Brewing. I’d rather just drink the base beer – an imperial stout. And sure, I’ll take one that’s been aged in oak barrels. The cherry was fine.
While I don’t think this style benefits from the addition of fermented wild yeast strains, I like that Odell is still experimenting. I’m glad I tried it. Odell is one of my favorite Colorado breweries, which is saying something in a state full of top-notch beermakers. This beer shows me that they’re not done trying to push the envelope, even after nearly 30 years of brewing.
If you’re a fan of pushing your palate to some uncharted places, I’d recommend picking this up if you see it on the shelf.