Odell Red Ale & Double Pilsner

Odell; a brewery that, 18 months ago were largely esoteric over here, are now pretty much ubiquitous in the fridges of beer drinkers up and down the the UK. Get past the awesome labels (and they are truly, truly works of art) and you’ve got a brewery that I sometimes struggle with; capable of moments of sheer sublimity (St Lupulin), only to be tempered with straight-ahead drinkers of no real distinction such as Levity. The beers aren’t bad by a long shot – well made, tasty and pleasant – but I’m still struggling to really get under Odell’s skin. For me, they remain a Jack of All Trades, but Master of None.

This latest brace do nothing to help me in that quest. First up, Red Ale (6.5%abv).  It lives up to the style, for sure  – it’s an amazing red colour with a flavour-promising tan head. On the nose, there’s plenty of Brown Sugar and biscuit; and this carries through to the taste. Clean – despite all the complexity of the malt bill –  there’s sweetness, a little black cherry, some drying coffee and bitter chocolate notes, with a very subtle, peppery hop finish. A restrained beer, it does an excellent job at hiding the admittedly high abv, but doesn’t really linger in the imagination. Pleasant enough without any fireworks; is this Odell Brewing in a nutshell?

Maybe not. Next up, Double Pilsner.As I poured, I contemplated what a ‘Double Pilsner’ might be. I must admit, the term scares me a little; subtle beers such as pilsner don’t lend themselves to the ‘doubling’ of anything unless you’re 100% committed to creating something new (such as the high-water-mark My Antonia). At 8.1% abv, I was certainly expecting a massive kick that, thankfully, never came. Kudos to the brewer; the abv is hidden as well as Ken Bates’s wallet on this occasion.

Straw-pale, there’s a lot going on in the nose. Some creamy malt, a busy floral thing going on, and a slightly scary soapy note underscoring everything. That soapiness comes right through into the sip, which is undeniably smooth; but there’s just too much going on here for me. Again, I drank it all  – and it wasn’t unpleasant – but as for ‘Double Pilsner‘? I’m still struggling with it. For me, Pilsner is a style built on subtlety and grace; flavours that come and go in a fleeting fashion, with refreshment and thirst-quenching qualities to the fore. You can’t just go an throw a shitload of hops and alcohol at it and declare it ‘Double’ without losing something in translation. Odell’s Double Pilsner ends up a bit muddled, and suffers for it.


About leighgoodstuff

Blog: https://goodfoodgoodbeer.wordpress.com/ I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

Posted on 24/07/2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. “capable of moments of sheer sublimity (St Lupulin), only to be tempered with straight-ahead drinkers of no real distinction such as Levity”

    This rings true with me. Odell have the know-how to create sublime beers – the flagship 90 Shilling is one of my favourite beers.

    Then there is stuff like the 5 Barrel Pale Ale which, to me, is instantly forgettable. In contrast, the IPA on keg is incredible and lingers long in the memory.

    Interested to try both of these nonetheless, if only to see for myself which category I can put them in!

  2. Wow! Great reviews. If I could only get these beers in Italy!!

  3. Ambrosiana – there are loads of great brewers in Italy, check out my posts about Garda for some tips.

  4. I like Odell beers a lot, especially St Lupulin and IPA. I wrote down their new DIPA and the Imperial Pilsner (inspired by Avery Brown Dredge, no doubt) as bottles to get from GBBF but I guess I can buy them outside of the festival.

    Interesting thoughts on the brews. I definitely want to try them. Just the idea of a double pilsner fascinates me.

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