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Draft Notes

One beer at a time…

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Odell Brewing Company Isolation Ale

This week I continue my look at winter seasonals with that of one of my favorite breweries, Odell Brewing Company. Odell’s winter seasonal, Isolation Ale, is more in line with your traditional winter warmer than last week’s Snow Blind, yet far from a cookie cutter. A theme I have hammered in past posts is my affection for tasty session beers. Isolation Ale is as close to a session beer as a winter warmer gets with its 6% ABV and 29 IBUs.Odell and Glass

Odell Brewing Company is located in Fort Collins, Colorado and was opened in 1989 (2nd oldest microbrewery in CO). Unfortunately for us in Virginia and the rest of the east coast, their distribution is limited to about a dozen states (primarily in the Midwest) and the UK. Being one of my favorite breweries, the distribution is a bit problematic so I have to resort to online orders. Ugh.

Unlike most of my reviews, I have actually consumed Isolation Ale and I will tell you up front that I am a big fan. Here are my notes…

Appearance is deep reddish-brown with fluffy off white head which recedes leaving a heavy lacing on my glass.

Aromas are fairly mild, I pick up caramel, malt, and toast.

Caramel sweet, malty flavors come through up front with a crisp and bitter hop bite to close it out. Bitterer than I would expect at 29 IBUs, regardless the balance is perfect.

Mouth feel: medium carbonation, medium density, dry.Odell Label

Overall, I love this beer. It is not the over spiced heavy ale you think of in the winter warmer style. I believe this would be just fine as malt forward ale year round due to its drinkability. I have also seen it categorized as an English Strong Ale, which I find more accurate. If you enjoy ambers, alt biers, English ales or awesome beer, you should try Isolation Ale before the shelves empty of this winter brew.

Learn more about Odell at: http://odellbrewing.com/.

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Starr Hill Snow Blind Doppelbock Lager

Starr Snow Blind With the holiday season in full swing, I decided to take a look at a couple of winter seasonals before they get by me. Today I have selected a beer from in state (Virginia) brewery Starr Hill named Snow Blind. This is the first year Starr Hill has released this doppelbock lager which weighs in at 7.4% ABV and a mere 13 IBUs. I appreciate them going a less traveled winter route by choosing this style over the more common spiced up high ABV ales.

Originating in southern Germany, doppelbocks are defined by their complex malts, roasted flavors, and low bitterness. You may have noticed that many breweries choose to name their doppelbocks with a name ending with “ator”. Randy Mosher’s “Tasting Beer” explains this trend originated with Paulaner Brewery creating the first in 1629, named “Salvator”. This name was used generically to describe all doppelbocks (like in the US we use the brand Kleenex to describe a tissue) until the 20th century when Paulaner decided to protect their brand. German breweries kept the “ator” as we see in beers such as Ayinger Celebrator and Spaten Optimator. Furthermore, some American craft brewers pay homage in beers such as Troeg’s Troegenator and Bell’s Consecrator. After explaining all this you will note that Starr Hill did not follow the trend. Oh well, let’s drink.

Appearance is a deep mahogany brown with a light tan head.

Aromas I detect are chocolate, caramel, and a touch of roasted barley.

As I sip this beer, the malts are obviously dominating – no surprise there. I taste roasted flavors, sweet caramel, and then eventually boozy, coffee finish.Starr Snow Blind w Glass

The dominant sensory impact with this beer is the mouth feel. A very heavy carbonation dominates and slowly dissipates in the mouth leaving a syrupy lip smacking finish.

Overall, I like this beer and it grows on me as I sip and write. The roasted flavors are perfect for the winter weather and dominant malts make the beer quite smooth and easy drinking. The style is not for everyone, but if you like ambers or porters you may be attracted to the malty and roasted goodness. Hop Heads need not apply.

You can read more about Starr Hill and their beers (to include Snow Blind) at http://www.starrhill.com. Their beers can be found in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Personally I am a big fan of their Starr Pils and Grateful Pale Ale.

Coming Soon!

Where the hell have I been? Well every man has a time in their life where beer commentary has to take a back seat. A new house, a new town, and a future beer drinker later (baby boy for those who need translation) I will be back on the interwebs. Will be adjusting the format a little and hope to upgrade the site navigation. Check back soon! Cheers!!! That is a hand model, not mine. Besides I would never use that color polish.

Cheers!

 

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