Odell Brewing Company has long been overshadowed in the consciousness of the beer drinkers by its fellow Fort Collins, Colorado brewery New Belgium Brewery. Ironically, Odell was founded two years prior to New Belgium and, in the minds of people who drink a lot of beer, produces suds that are far superior to what is coming out of the taps at the larger brewery in town.
90 Shilling Ale is Odell Brewing Company’s flagship beer:
Variously described as an amber ale or an American ale, Odell tends to describe the beer as a relative of Scottish ales that were described by the method of taxation. Thus, 90 Shilling which would correlate to a traditional “wee heavy.” One has to love the British Isles because beer can be given such colorful descriptors.
A flagship beer is a tricky creature. Many breweries flagship beers tend to be fairly straightforward ales that offend no one. Take Odell’s neighbor New Belgium and Fat Tire Amber Ale. There was a time—shudder, the 1990s—when craft beer was in its distribution infancy and finding Fat Tire Amber Ale on tap felt akin to stumbling upon El Dorado. Good sir, my choices are Bud Light, Coors Light, and Fat Tire Amber Ale? Uh, I will go with the actual beer.
However, no one really thinks about Fat Tire Amber Ale as anything but a thirst quencher or default option anymore. Call it acclimation to the broader world of craft beer, but New Belgium’s flagship beer is fairly passé.
90 Shilling is a different animal. It’s not a beer that is pushing the boundaries in terms of bitterness or alcohol. Clocking in at 5.3% ABV and 32 IBU, it’s a beer that people who are partial to Stone Brewing would scoff at as little more than water. For those beer drinkers who do not feel like assaulting their palates every evening there is something inherently comfortable about 90 Shilling. For a fairly straightforward beer it has one of the most complex and balanced malt bodies of any “everyday” beer. Maybe we spend too much time drinking IPAs that replace malt character with hops and then a few more hops just to make sure you taste the hops. Maybe malt is the dark art of brewing that has been lost. Regardless, 90 Shilling has a lot of excellent malt character that elevates the beer above similar ales. It’s accessible without being banal.
It is easy to understand why so much 90 Shilling Ale flies off the shelves:
Find out what others are saying about Odell Brewing Company 90 Shilling Ale at Beeradvocate.