Avant Peche is a beer I've been waiting a long time to try. Odell first announced this beer about four months ago but up until last week it was only available in Colorado. I happened to be in Boulder last week and picked up a bottle just as the Avant Peche was showing up on shelves back home. What excited me most about the Avant Peche was the style of this beer, it's an Imperial Porter that is barrel aged and blended with peaches. I've had a few peach flavored Wheat beers but never a Porter. This intrigued me because I've really enjoyed the two sour Porters I've had before and I was hoping the Avant Peche would be similar to those beers.
Odell makes good beer. Not many people who argue that point. The most frustrating and disappointing part of Odell's beers are their price point. Great beers aren't cheap to make, just look at the price tags on Dogfish Head and Russian River bottles. Actually, neither Dogfish or Russian River are available every where so not everyone may be aware of this, but it does bring up yet another point... Great beer is in great demand. $20 a bottle isn't unheard for a bottle of wine, in fact it's even considered a bargain in most circles. For beer however, $20 is a steep barrier to entry for most people. Some of Odell's more premium beers top out at $25 for a 750 at my local liquor store. Honestly, that's a little too premium for me. I'd love to try those beers but I can't commit at that price. This bottle of Deconstruction Golden Ale (which is a more modest $12 or $15 depending on your retailer) has just convinced me I need to save up for Odells highest tier of ales.
I've come to realize a something about New Belgium recently. Well, it feels like I've known it for a while but only recently come to terms with it. Either way, there seems to be something about New Belgium and their beers that I just don't like. It's been less than a week since I visited Fort Collins as part of an extravagant beer run that spanned 1500 miles and about as many dollars. As we walked into the New Belgium tasting room that morning I remember looking at the tap handles and thinking, "Well, I've already had all of these beers and I didn't really like any of them... would it be rude to just leave now?" We spent our drink tokens and walk around looking at all the recycled bike art and the retro Cruiser bikes. When we left New Belgium it occurred to me that they might make better bikes than beers...
Being Kansas City based has its ups and down. While we get a lot of great Colorado craft beers, we aren't a big enough market to draw some of the more limited release beers those breweries produce. India Barleywine is one example brewed by Odell, a brewery who sent just about everything else out this way but for some reason didn't send this particular beer. I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of India Barleywine from the nice folks at Odell and am eager to give it a full review, so let's get to it shall we...
The way I heard the story behind this beer is that Eric was a lowly junior brewer at New Belgium and this was his Longshot moment (a la Sam Adams). This was relayed to me by someone who claims to have heard it first hand while on tour in Fort Collins, so make of that what you will. What I do know for a fact is that this beer is an ale aged on wood for "up to three years" and fermented with peach juice. All of that sounds great... but not all of that comes through in the end.
I picked up this bottle of New Belgium's Biere de Mars back when the Lips of Faith series first hit shelves earlier this year. I've been wanting to drink this for quite some time but never really got around to it. Well, the time has finally come, I've set aside a couple hours and I'm determined to show this bomber who's boss. Pouring this beer into my New Belgium goblet was a little underwhelming, there isn't much head and this beer isn't terribly pungent. The Biere de Mars smells a bit like a soapy Belgian pale, a little zesty with a bit of spice. Overall though, this beer wreaks of mediocrity... but I mean that in a good way.
Extra Special Bitter is a style of beer that I don't particularly care for. In most cases, it seems like the ESB label is a license for brewers to pack a ton of bitter hops into a darker beer without bothering with any of the things that make an IPA tolerable. There's usually no citrusy sweet crispness, just dry hops and hearty grains. The ESBs that I do like tend to be those that back a little mildly toasted malt into the mix. Anything you can do to tone down the hops is greatly appreciated. I'm torn on where exactly New Belgium's 2° Below falls...
It's hard to believe this is the first Odell I've reviewed on this site... Odell is a brewery I really enjoy, I've had their Wheat, Scotch Ale and regular Pale Ale. I've enjoyed everything I've had from Odell so I had high expectations for the Isolation Ale. In the interest of full disclosure I should point out that I had a couple of these last year and I remember liking them quite a bit. This year was no different, I like the Isolation... but for reasons other than what I expected.
I like Beglian Dubbels, Tripels and Quadrupels. These beers rank pretty high on my scale of favorite beers. Strong ales with sour yeast flavors are truly a work of art. I've been waiting anxiously to try New Belgium's Abbey Ale for quite some time. I finally got around to picking up a bottle of this Dubbel style and I was a bit surprised with what was inside... My first impression of New Belgium's Abbey Ale was that it was more spicy than I liked and it didn't mask it's 7% ABV well enough to be a smooth drinking beer. These aren't show stopping flaws, but they prevent this beer from being a great Dubbel.
New Belgium's Frambozen is quite a bit different than I'd expected. I've drank enough fruit flavored beer that I've come to expect certain things from them. Namely, fruitiness... now, of course you'd expect a peach beer to taste a bit peachy right? Sure. What ends up happening more of time is it'll be more peachy and less like beer. There seems to be very fine line between balance and overbearing when it comes to fruit beers. New Belgium managed to get this beer just right. It's a Raspberry Brown Ale that isn't overly fruity or too mellow.