Odell is doing more than OK after a year of major expansion

Posted: February 10, 2014 by cjax33 in Beer-to-go, Interviews, Out-of-Town Brews, Uncategorized
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Every now and again, the good folks at Jubilation hold a special beer tasting. And every now and again, someone interesting shows up to one of those tastings. Back on Thursday afternoon, Odell was the featured brewery, and Ryan Odell, a regional sales manager, was there in person to chat about his family’s enterprise.

The past year was a busy one at the Fort Collins-based Odell, which luckily escaped the major flooding in Colorado relatively unscathed. Still, they managed to expand the brewery itself while still continuing to churn out quality beers, from stalwarts like 90 Shilling to seasonals like their Fernet Porter. Part of the tasting on Thursday was to introduce the new spring variety pack, which features the Runoff Red IPA and Wolf Picker Pale Ale (made with experimental hops available nowhere else), plus the return of the popular Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout.

Ryan Odell shows off this year's batch of Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout during an Odell tasting at Jubilation.

Ryan Odell shows off this year’s batch of Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout during an Odell tasting at Jubilation.

After running through the samples, Ryan and I stepped aside for a quick interview about the past, present, and future for Odell and what it all adds up to for beer lovers here in New Mexico and around the country.

Q: What does Odell have planned for 2014 in terms of distribution?

Ryan: We’re currently in 10 states as of today. As of the end of this month we’ll be in our 11th state, we’re expanding to Texas. It’s been a pretty big process for us. We’ve actually gone through an entire brewhouse expansion, a lot of fermentation expansion, just to be able to continue our growth. We haven’t added a state in a couple years. Texas is going to be a pretty dig deal for us. We’re currently in 10 states with about 33 million people; Texas alone has 26 million. Beyond that I think we’re not quite sure what we’re going to do beyond that.

Q: You guys are a major production brewery, but you’re still able to create some unique styles and let your brewers play around. How important is it to keep doing that?

Ryan: Innovation is huge. I think everybody wants something new. I think everybody wants to try different flavors. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of making beers that are outside the box and new and different, but still really drinkable. Not too aggressive in a way that’s still approachable but unique. I think that it’s helped that we’ve had some really successful beers that we do every day, to be able to give us the opportunity to be more creative.

Q: Do you feel the success of your regular beers like 90 Shilling, IPA, and Myrcenary open the doors for you?

Ryan: For sure. I think that in our current market the name recognition really helps out with us. As I mentioned, 90 Shilling has been our flagship, our best seller for 25 years. That recognition has helped us get our foot in the door with our other styles. The growth of our IPA I think has been a huge testament to that. It will be, I guess in the next three years, it will be our best-selling beer.

Q: 2013 was a tough year for breweries in Colorado with the flooding and all that. How would you characterize how last year treated Odell?

Ryan: We did great. We had a solid growth year without adding any new states, any new distribution channels. We weren’t really affected too much by the flood. We were cut off for a day or two. But nothing that messed up production for us. There were a couple things in our construction floor in the new brewhouse that got pushed back. It was mostly outside stuff but we were still able to get it done in the time limit we set. It went down to the wire, a little more so than our production manager would have liked. We’ve had a good several years and I think 2014 will be, too.

Jubilation is too good to all of us in ABQ for putting on all these beer tasting events.

Jubilation is too good to all of us in ABQ for putting on all these beer tasting events.

Q: The brewing industry has grown so much in Colorado and New Mexico over the last decade. How much has the friendly competition really pushed Odell’s brewing staff?

Ryan: I think it’s huge. We’ve seen a lot of competition, but also have found that camaraderie. I think you’re going to see a lot more collaboration beers. But again, the consumer want creative, want new styles. A lot of those new breweries do really, really well because it’s something the consumer wants. That’s the same reason we want to continue innovation. We’re releasing our Loose Leaf (American Session Ale) as a year-round six-pack this year. It’s a beer that originally appeared in our Summer Montage. The Red Ale has become Runoff Red IPA, it’s the same beer, just re-branded. That continuation will help us stay relevant, I guess, with all the new breweries. It’s really about a high quality of beer. Quality and consistency is the key. I think some of the new breweries are finding that out the hard way. I think with our experience we’ve gotten pretty good at that.

Q: People always want to know what new beers are coming. What does Odell have in the pipeline for 2014?

Ryan: I’m not a part of product development; I kind of learn about things after the fact, being a sales guy. But I know we’re doing our Treeshaker, the imperial IPA that we did last year. That’s coming out again at the end of the month. We put a whole lot of Colorado-grown peaches in that beer. I think we’ve upped the alcohol a little bit to 10.1 (percent). It’s sweet but not too peachy, very well-balanced. We’ve got a couple of sours that we’re working on, with to-be-announced release dates. The Woodcut Series, we’re kind of dialing that in. We’re going to keep it most likely as a Russian imperial stout ongoing and try different additives, different barrels. This last year’s we aged in the virgin oak, but it was a really well-balanced beer. I’m really excited to see what the next Russian imperials will end up being.

* * * *

A big thanks to Ryan for taking the time to chat about beer, and as always a big thanks to Jubilation for hosting these tastings. I personally recommend the Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout (not overly sweet like last year’s batch, but more balanced between the chocolate and the roasted malts), the unique Wolf Picker Pale Ale (available only in the Spring Montage pack), and, if you like Ska’s Vernal Minthe Stout, pick up the Fernet Porter. The Runoff Red IPA, regular IPA, and 90 Shilling are all solid beers as well.

Now I just have to save up some money for the next entry in the Woodcut Series.

We’re trying to send a couple of our writers to The Stumbling Steer this week for a quick review of the beers on tap (I am on the disabled list with my first cold of the winter). The Steer is open at 5 p.m. today and Tuesday, with the grand opening Wednesday.

Also this week, Marble is hosting the Indulge Party on Wednesday, featuring the release of the Stout Americano. And Tractor is bringing back its “Ex-orcism Party” for everyone that does not have a date for Valentine’s Day on Friday. That will be at the Nob Hill taproom only.

For everyone that’s healthy, enjoy a great week of beer. I’ll try to kick this virus to the curb as fast as possible and rejoin civilization as soon as possible.


— Stoutmeister

  1. Thomas Molitor says:

    Good choice. Odell is excellent beer. How does the public become award of such tasting events? Just through Jubilation, or did DSBC publicize this and I missed it?

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