Nick Carr on December 1, 2014 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery: Odell Brewing Company Location: Fort Collins, CO Style: Winter Ale ABV: 6.0% IBU: 29 Appearance: Deep, Rich Chestnut Hue With Lots of Off-White Head Aroma: Low & Sweet Maltiness With Caramel Notes Flavor: Big Malt With Notes of Caramel, Nuttiness & Roast; Slight Hoppiness at the Swallow Availability: Fall/Winter Seasonal Pairs With: Roast Turkey, Deviled Eggs Sprinkled With Paprika, Walnut Chocolate Cake Time to look at an old favorite with a more discerning eye. I’ve enjoyed Odell’s Isolation Ale the last two or three winter seasons, but not with reviewing in mind, so it was purely the warm happy drinking of a man who has found a beer he agrees with. Now, as part of my winter warmer reviews I’ve decided to include this old friend and turn a light on its nuances, measure its true character. I love Odell’s labels, the old woodblock style artwork are fun, colorful, and inviting. The label for Isolation Ale is no different. A mountain cabin and two pines set against a background of a high mountain range and a forests edge. Snow has fallen recently and a set of snowshoe tracks trace a meandering path across the label to the cabin’s door. Smoke rises from the chimney and warm light shows through the small four-paned windows and door left ajar. It’s dusk here. Maybe this person has just returned from gathering a few more logs for the fire, maybe they’ve just hiked in, reaching their destination as the weak winter sun finds its bed, or maybe they’ve brought something home for the stew pot. Whatever story these tracks hold, the scene certainly speaks of isolation, but in the same breath a little welcome too. After all the door is ajar, inviting whomever would come to the warmth, pleasantness, deep satisfaction that only comes from a snug place and crackling fire in deep winter. With a scene that could just as easily find itself on a Christmas card, Odell lets you know exactly what season this seasonal belongs to… while warming the heart just a little. “An isolation ale did tell a winter’s tale of robust malt hidden in warming vault”. Oh, a quick note, I’ve quite putting any of these winter ales in the fridge, there’s just no real reason. All the cold does is swallow aroma and hid subtle taste where dark rich brews are concerned. So, straight out of the cabinet and into the glass comes Isolation… THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while tasting Isolation Ale. If you tasted this beer, please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Pour and Aroma Pours a deep rich chestnut. Lots of big bubbles make up the bulk of a one finger’s worth of off-white head. It dissipates quickly dropping down to a skiff in only a couple minutes. Some lazy carbonation climbs through the slightly murky, but ornately colored depths. Not much to the aroma. Some low, sweet maltiness with a caramel edge but not much else. Some bready yeast-like notes almost give the impression of a dark lager, a maibock maybe. Interesting. Mouthfeel and Taste Now I see why I keep coming back to this ale as the Christmas season draws near. The taste is thick and inviting. With big malt carrying the working load; caramel, nuttiness, and other roasty malt flavors build pleasant comfort across the palate. Sturdy hop bitterness at the back of the palate balances the rich malt nicely. It’s not overly bitter, but you’ll know hops back the malt’s play. As in the aroma there’s a bread crust yeast quality to the taste which finds a nice place to settle into the whole, but would be just as inviting (and not as surprising) in a dark lager. Hints of citrus, and raisin round out the character. Mouthfeel is smooth with a medium-full body. Crisp on the swallow leaving a slight astringency to linger, dancing with an aftertaste of minor bittering long after the swallow. Finishing The Impression This is a great beer. Heck, I’d have to put it ahead of Redhook’s Winterhook and tied or just shy of Deschutes Jubelale. It leans more to the traditions of English winter warmers, where no spices or other ingredients are added, instead relying on a sturdy hop presence and a big and probably varied malt bill to lend the rich character, complexity, and ABV that makes the winter warmer so pleasing. A perfect beer for isolation (you may not want to share) or for circling the friends and relatives close around the happy fire with holiday music bringing up memories, everyone laughing, sharing, making the holidays what they are meant to be; a time of companionship, a time of hope, a time of laughter, a time of joy, and a time of gladness. Waes hael! More Beer Reviews: 90 Shilling Ale from Odell Brewing Company Spring Blonde from New Belgium Brewing Co. 400 Pound Monkey from Left Hand Brewing Co. Tour De Fall Pale Ale from New Belgium Brewing Co.