A Visit to Odell's 2nd Annual Small Batch Festival

Odell Brewing Co. was founded back in 1989 in Fort Collins. That means if you are 23 or younger, they've been making glorious beer since before you were born. They've gotten pretty good at it too. Just like anything, perfection comes after a lot of practice. Most breweries have a pilot system: a smaller brewhouse which allows experimentation and a chance to fine tune a recipe before making hundreds of barrels of a beer (aka small batch). Experimentation is the focus of this festival with beers named Tiger Blood and Totes McGotes. Most of these beers were brewed on that small 5 barrel pilot system that's nestled in between the larger tanks in the brew house. We paid the festival a visit, made the long trek from Colorado Springs and the beers did not disappoint.

The festival took place in Odell's parking lot, complete with tap trucks, tents, music, hippies on bikes, and corn-hole instead of cars. The first complaint out of most people’s mouth about beer festivals is the lines. I can understand that. Sometimes all you do is wait in line for your next beer. Of course the lines are sometimes where the fun happens. Everyone's a people watcher, and Ft. Collins does not disappoint when it comes to getting lost in the weirdness of others. Lines also lend themselves to a speed-dating type friendship - you talk to the people around you for twenty minutes, get your beer, and go your separate ways. Doug Odell mentioned the lines on his twitter and said it is something they plan on remedying. This was only the second year of the festival, so I'm sure there's lots of tweaks ahead.
Beer and Friends. Small Batch Fest 2012.

Back to the beer, here's a few of my favorites and why:

Footloose - A golden sour ale. First off, if every drink in the world vanished besides wild beer, I'd be perfectly happy. The beer felt a little more like a portion of a large batch (Footprint Ale) that got dosed with some lovely souring bacteria, turning it into Footloose. This beer was light and refreshing as well as pleasantly tart. The tartness hid the 8% ABV quite well.

Totes McGotes - A blend of Riesling must and a wheat beer. This was my first beer out of the gate. My immediate reaction to this beer wasn't great but it definitely grew on me. This beer was very complex and the flavors of the must and wheat were competing and complimenting each other at the same time, if that's possible.

Wooden Elephant - Oak aged IPA. Oak aged IPA's aren't my favorite beers, mostly because I think the two flavors are too bold to blend with each other. However this one worked. It tasted like the Odell mainline IPA with just a hint of oak, which tasted great to me.

Pomegranate Pale Ale Firkin - The name of this beer is description enough. Everything good, all in a glass!

Those are just a few of the beers that we had. Overall this was a pretty small festival but a really fun time. I would recommend this festival for anyone that's an Odell fan. The brewers at Odell have a chance to experiment more than they can on the large system, and not being a Fort Collins resident, the festival gives you the chance to try some of these all in one setting. Not all large production breweries have such a decent sized playground (if they have one at all). Thanks Odell!

It didn't hurt that we went to Choice City Butcher before for a Parabola, Supplication, and St. Louis Gueuze on tap. Then after the festival we went to The Mayor of Old Town for lots of Belgian sours. If you're in Fort Collins for a brewery tour or beer festival, plan ahead, there are many beer options to explore.

- - -
Stay up to date with Focus on the Beer. You can receive email updates and join us on our Facebook page.

BeerEric Steen