February 22, 2012 | 10:38am
Beer: Footprint RegionAle
Brewery: Odell Brewing Co.
Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 9.5 percent
People like to say it's not about where you're from, but rather where you're going. Weird thing about beer is, where you're going in a way becomes where you're from. Choices of where to distribute are not made lightly -- the impression of a brewery can be just as impacted by the people who drink it and the places in which it's drunk outside the state of origin. A brewery's fans, regardless of where they live, become part of its persona. Sometimes it's good to pay homage to them, too.
Odell Brewing Co.'s distribution footprint currently stretches across ten states. The brewery's newest creation, Footprint RegionAle, pays tribute to the places Odell beer is available. Part of the Single Serve Series (the same grouping that brought you Odell's Bourbon Barrel Stout, Friek and Hiveranno), it was brewed with ingredients unique to each state in the network: hops and barley from Colorado and Idaho; wheat from Kansas and Wyoming; wild rice from Minnesota; corn from Nebraska; honey from South Dakota; green chilies from New Mexico; oak barrels from Missouri; and prickly pear from our own state of Arizona.
Using said ingredients, Odell concocted a menagerie of small-batch brews with help from guest brewers -- distributor partners, retailers, co-workers and friends from each contributing state. The tiny batches were then blended into one larger brew in differing proportions -- 40 percent of the final ale was aged in oak barrels, 10 percent went into wine barrels, five percent was brewed with honey, and another five percent was made with wild rice. The result is a crafty collective of regional flavors.
Inside a tulip, Footprint gleams in slightly hazy tangerine. Hyperactive carbonation bursts forth in a two-inch cap of pure white froth that has the consistency and staying power of marshmallow fluff. Thick fingers of curving lace decorate the glass as I drink, but this head looks like it would remain for hours and hours if left to its own devices.
The mélange of ingredients jostle for space in the aroma. Ruby red grapefruit and a touch of grass; burnt sugar and honey; oaky stone fruit; pungent prickly pear; crackers. It's a wild, funky blend that in some ways reminds me of tequila. The flavor's a little more muted, with subdued orange peel, grapefruit and grass balancing honey, crisp crackers and the fruity tang of pineapple and prickly pear. As was indicated by the pour, Footprint possesses a good kick of carbonation. Bubbles walk all over the tongue, adding some fizziness to the smooth, soft medium body. Ethanol fumes swirl through the mouth and nose before a dry, spicy finish.
Like a citrusy, malty and enticingly funky IPA, Footprint tries to be as unique -- and, well, weird -- as all the states it draws inspiration from. Large-format bottles will step into Valley beer stores beginning in early March. Grab one and see what kind of impression Footprint leaves on you.
Food pairing suggestions:
Have you ever tried prickly pear outside of a margarita? Drink Footloose alongside an example of Arizona's contribution by spreading some prickly pear jelly on toast, allowing the sweet fruits to harmonize while not distracting from the beer's other delicate flavors.
Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone, an accredited guide to beer.
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