Bottled Up Special: Odell Brewing Company

The last dozen US-influenced, UK-brewed beers that I've tried have all ploughed the same furrow, riven with hops. Some have been sublime - Oakham Citra has already become hop lore in the UK - but others seemed misshapen in their one-trick/single-dry-hopped profile.

Which is ironic, considering that some of the tastiest US beers I've drank this year have taken their inspiration from the balance of traditional English ales. For some, the bittersweet line is there not so much crossed as trashed, equating it with a middle-of-the-roadness sense of unadventure. Thankfully, Colorado's Doug Odell understands flavour balance perfectly and executes it with aplomb across his range of beers.

Since 1989, Odell have been brewing with balance in mind; brown ales where sweet malts are tempered by an hop edge, IPAs with an aggressive hop showcase on a substantial malt base. These beers aren't often seen east of the Mississippi in the US so it was fantastic to have the opportunity to sample them here in the UK.

The IPA exhibited ballet-show balance; delicate touches, lilting floral notes, understated sweetness. By way of contrast, St Lupulin had a bitterly astringent nose yet maintained a zesty, perfumed palate and clean juicy fruitiness. The only problem with 90 Shilling was that it was so good I wanted to pour it on my cornflakes at breakfast - plenty of creamy caramel undercut by some hedge-berry flavours. Balance was taken to another level by the 5 Barrel Pale Ale, its biscuity base and soft herbal hops made for a great bottled pale that must be phenomenal served fresh on tap. As for Cutthroat Porter... all I can say is that I've never has a US porter that packed in so many subtle roasty/toasty/coffee/smoky notes and yet was still an effortless easy-going, thoroughly enjoyable beer.

These are beers that British brewers need to try, lest they forget just how fresh and exciting the 'old styles' can be. Many thanks to for donating the beers.


  1. Nice review, they really are excellent classy beers, each and every one. This has made me want to drink some more!

  2. Good call - Odell are my current darlings. All the range are outstanding. Nice bottle top piccie, by the way, wish i'd have thought of that!!