This is an extended version of the article published in the February 2013 issue of Scene Magazine. You can find Scene Magazine on news stands and in local businesses all over Northern Colorado.
One of the most popular features of Odell Brewing Company is their small pilot system. The pilot system brews 5-10 barrel batches of beer, small by Odell’s standards. The small batch allows for creativity, experimentation, and is just plain fun.
Odell’s knows that great things are better when shared, which is why they invite members of the community to come brew on the system. Last year, Silver Grill made a cinnamon bun beer and Choice City has been known to brew a batch for their anniversary party. This past January, Scene Magazine and Napa of Beer were invited to brew a collaboration beer.
Being the huge beer geek that I am, it only took .0124 seconds for me to declare a resounding “yes” to the offer of brewing with pilot system brewer Brent Cordle. The night before brew day was like waiting for Christmas morning, and it couldn’t come fast enough.
Brent and I had emailed back and forth and decided on brewing a floral IPA. Other ideas passed around were a vanilla bourbon stout or salted caramel porter. Our plan was to add rose, lavender and hibiscus to give the beer a more floral aroma and taste. When I arrived there were bags of rose petals and jars of lavender sitting on our work cart. They were fresh and bright, straight from Old Town Spice Shop. Even though a beer like this was new to Brent, he knew exactly what I was going for.
The brewing process was long, and took about 9 hours from start to finish. I helped with everything from mashing, scooping, and scrubbing to adding flowers and hops to the boil. There is also a lot of down time in brewing, waiting for the grain to fully mash into the water, the sparge to finish and for the wort to boil. This gave me a chance to explore the rest of the brewery.
All day long there was the constant hum of boiling kettles, bottles moving down the line, and hoses being
dragged from one piece of equipment to another. The clicks of couplers, and bubbling of fermentors were almost harmonious. It was loud, and it was busy. Brewers and cellar men were milling around every where, making the beer we love to drink.
During down time, we were able to try the newest pilot batch, a clementine and ginger pale ale, right off the fermentor before it was sent to be kegged. The beer drank almost as a mimosa, with such an amazing citrus nose. When asked what his favorite pilot batch so far was, Brent declared “this is it”. It probably won’t last long in the taproom.
In the middle of the day we got to my favorite part of the brewing process, deciding which hops to use. We got to try different hops, smash them up, and take in all of their aromas. We decided on hops with a more floral profile, cascade, Chinook and centennial. We focused on adding the hops later in the boil, in order to bring out more taste and aroma rather than bittering.
The last steps were mixing things together. We added the flowers in giant sacks of mesh netting in the last 10 minutes of the boil. We ended up putting all of the hibiscus in because it has such a subtle, herbal taste and a bright beautiful color. Our hopes were for the head of the beer to have a fun pink hue. 6 oz. of lavender and a half pound of rose petals were also added.
When all was said and done, I decided that as much as I love beer, and brewing it, being a professional brewer is not in my future. I prefer to be out pouring the beer, talking to people and educating them on what they are drinking. However, it does make it a lot easier to educate someone on their beer when you know just exactly how it is made.
Our beer, Bouquet Array IPA will be released at the 1 year anniversary celebration of Napa of Beer. Join us at Choice City Butcher and Deli on February 27, 2013 from 5-9pm. Visit NapaofBeer.com for more pictures and details of our brew day with Odell Brewing Co.
After the Brew- What it tastes like
Bouquet Array conveniently tapped the day before my birthday. Having a beer you made on tap at one of your favorite breweries is a pretty cool birthday gift. I wasn’t able to make it in for a couple days because I had other obligations with the Beverage Business Institute and every ones reports of how tasty it turned out really were a tease. Finally, I was able to try it with a bunch of my closest friends and new ones from the BBI on a February day that was warm enough for us to grab a table on the patio. Odell Brewing did an awesome job with the tap handle art, even if bouquet was spelled wrong.
The hibiscus really gave the beer a red hue, making it darker than your typical IPA. I was worried it might turn out smelling like soap, but it was the perfect floral aroma. Not quite a spring meadow, not quite a hop cooler, but mix of both. It was more bitter than I had planned, but it was a bitterness from the flowers, like an over steeped tea. Next time I would do less lavender and more rose. Overall, I love how it turned out. It is an easy drinking IPA with a bit higher ABV than most. It is my perfect beer. I wish there were more than 8 barrels.