In 1989 Odell Brewing opened its doors and became only the second microbrewery in Colorado. 24 years and over a hundred microbreweries later this once small business is as big as ever and now known on a national level. This is partly because of their great lineup of flagship and seasonal beers. But another reason could be due to their barrel aging program where beers are so expertly crafted and available in such limited quantities that craft beer fans will flock to Fort Collins to get a sip. This was exactly the case back in February where a two year project of the brewery was realized and a barrel aged porter was released that would appeal to fans of both craft beer and Colorado wine.
The final product was Amuste a porter aged in oak wine barrels and brewed with the juice of Tempranillo grapes from the Western Slope of Colorado. We recently acquired a bottle of it, and these are our tasting notes. First of all is this is a big 25 ounce, corked beer so proper glassware was necessary. An ordinary pint glass would not do, instead a goblet style glass was used to enjoy this. The pour was fast creating a thick head at the top of the brew which meant one thing, and that was this was a heavy beer and truly a porter. The color showed only signs that this was a beer. It was a rich, chocolate brown with a slightly lighter shade making up the head. There were no hints of grape or wine in the beer based on color alone.
Now before we could enjoy a sip we had to get a feel for the beer through the aroma and there was only one word to describe it, complex. If there was any doubt that this beer did not contain the red wine grapes it promised the aroma took that away. The prominent aspect of the smell of this beer is the grape but it is still much more complex than that. There is a subtle hint of chocolate from the malts used during the brewing process, but the most unique smells come from the barrels that they were aged in. The oak creates an almost earthy aroma, and there were hints of vanilla and plum which the style of grape is known for.
Knowing that the style of this beer was a porter I was expecting a full body beer, with a big flavor and this beer did not disappoint. The full body of the beer was very noticeable from being a porter and the hints of the red wine. The heavy body was lightened up through the grape, and their acidity cut through the body to make this beer also light and crisp. To compliment that acidity is a strong malt flavor that left a subtle chocolate flavor, in addition to the subtle oak, vanilla, and fruit flavors. There were sips where the wine flavor was prominent and chalky like a red wine, and others that reminded you it was in fact a craft beer. The complexities that were in the aroma definitely carried over to the taste and this beer hit the pallet on so many levels.
The aftertaste to this beer is very strong and did linger around but it did not want to make me stop drinking it. With each sip of this beer a new flavor was introduced to the senses and the more it was realized just how many layers of flavor was packed into this bottle. This barrel aged beer brought together beer and wine into harmony, and it is a beer that any craft beer fan should try.
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