Isolation Ale - Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins
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.
This pint of Isolation Ale is hoppier than I remember. Now, it's nowhere near the hop levels of an IPA by any means, but those hops are noticeable... and bitter. When you take a whiff of this beer you'll notice it's got a woodsy, almost pine aroma. That's the hops in the Isolation Ale, almost greeting you to a snowed in cabin high up in the Rockies. That "New Cabin" smell is great, but how's it taste? I've been burnt by hoppy Christmas beers before, so hopefully Odell can pull it off right.
The Isolation Ale tastes almost exactly like you'd expect after smelling it. The first flavor that hits your palate is sweet malt and dry grains, the hops quickly cut through and the beer finishes with a mild bitterness. The hops in this beer are definitely mild, not so much in quantity but rather in abrasiveness. The hop bite and overall bitterness is mellowed out by the grains and malt. The combined flavor tastes a bit like salted cookies or sourdough.
This is a well rounded Christmas seasonal, it has a non-threatening level of hops and is very easy to drink. If I have one complaint with this beer it would be that it tastes a little too close to a Märzen when I'm looking for a darker and maltier type of Winter Warmer. Other than that, I have no reservations about recommending the Isolation Ale as a Christmastime beer.