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By Lauren Hoff
One of the most popular features of Odell Brewing Company is their small pilot system. The pilot system brews 5-10 barrel batches of beer, small by Odell’s standards. The small batch allows for creativity, experimentation, and is just plain fun.
Odell’s knows that great things are better when shared, which is why they invite members of the community to come brew on the system. Last year, Silver Grill made a cinnamon bun beer and Choice City has been known to brew a batch for their anniversary party. This past January, Scene Magazine and Napa of Beer were invited to brew a collaboration beer.
Being the huge beer geek that I am, it only took .0124 seconds for me to declare a resounding “yes” to the offer of brewing with pilot system brewer Brent Cordle. The night before brew day was like waiting for Christmas morning, and it couldn’t come fast enough.
Brent and I had emailed back and forth and decided on brewing a floral IPA. Our plan was to add rose, lavender and hibiscus to give the beer a more floral aroma and taste. When I arrived there were bags of rose petals and jars of lavender sitting on our work cart. Even though a beer like this was new to Brent, he knew exactly what I was going for.
The brewing process was long, and took about 9 hours from start to finish. I helped with everything from mashing, scooping, scrubbing to adding flowers and hops to the boil. There is also a lot of down time in brewing, waiting for the grain to full mash into the water, and for the water to boil. This gave me a chance to explore the rest of the brewery.
All day long there was the constant hum of boiling kettles, bottles moving down the bottling
Brent Cordle, pilot system brewer of Odell, Lauren Hoff of Napa of beer & Michael E. Mockler of Scene Magazine
line, and hoses being dragged from one piece of equipment to another. The clicks of couplers, and bubbling of fermentors were almost harmonious. It was loud, and it was busy. Brewers and cellar men were milling around every where, making the beer we love to drink.
During down time, we were able to try the newest pilot batch, a clementine and ginger pale ale, right off the fermentor before it was sent to be kegged. The beer drank almost as a mimosa, with such an amazing citrus nose. When asked what his favorite pilot batch so far was, Brent declared “this is it”. It probably won’t last long in the taproom.
My favorite part of the brewing process was deciding which hops to use. We got to try different hops, smash them up, and take in all of their aromas. We decided on hops with a more floral profile, cascade, Chinook and centennial.
We focused on adding the hops later in the boil, in order to bring out more taste and aroma rather than bittering.
When all was said and done, I decided that as much as I love beer, and brewing it, being a professional brewer is not in my future. I prefer to be out pouring the beer, talking to people and educating them on what they are drinking. However, it does make it a lot easier to educate someone on their beer when you know just exactly how it is made.
Our beer, Bouquet Array IPA will be released at the 1 year anniversary celebration of Napa of Beer. Join us at Choice City Butcher and Deli on February 27, 2013 from 5-9pm. Visit NapaofBeer.com for more pictures and details of our brew day with Odell Brewing Co.