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Pub Visit - USA/Canada

Denver (River North - RiNo), Colorado:
Odell Brewing - RiNo Brewhouse

Visited on: Friday 15th June 2018

Bob Thompson

Odell1Sometime a little serendipity is needed when visiting brew-pubs, as was the case with this one. I explain the story later but first I should deal with its origins. Its founder was Doug Odell whose first contact with brewing come when he worked for the Anchor Brewery in San Francisco. Not a brewer he nevertheless spent a lot of time cleaning the mash tun.

The story of Anchor is well known when it was rescued from the dead by Fritz Maytag, of washing machine fame. That was in the 1970s and Doug must have worked there not much later.

Like so many in this business he was a home-brewer. After his spell at Anchor he moved to Seattle. He met his wife Wynne in that city and whilst honeymooning in the UK was inspired by the smaller breweries and their ales.

I was pleased to read this as the 1980s were a pleasurable period for drinking. Not a vast variety, yet some excellent beers. Sadly a lot of these regional breweries have now closed.

I find it fascinating that as one of the early (and still now) leaders of the American craft brewers should think this way, so where does that leave the current “craft” brewers in the UK. They believe that their kind of beers should come in sterile kegs and propelled into glasses by industrially-produced gasses with pressure that is far too high. I fail to see what the “craft” element in that process is.

They then started looking at college towns where they could set up a brewery. Doug’s sister Corky lived in Fort Collins, which fitted the bill. So the three of them set up a brewery in an old 1915-built grain elevator and they produced their first beers in 1989. The brewery grew slowly and eventually moved to larger premises nearby. Nowadays they distribute to eighteen mountain and mid-western states. They are also the 22nd largest craft brewery company in the USA. In 2015 the family sold most of the company to their workers.

Odell3So what was I going on about earlier? Well I didn’t know this pub existed. It wasn’t on the radar when I was researching pubs for this visit. That’s because it hadn’t opened! That occurred on Monday 4th June and we were already in the USA by then. The Odell brewery already had a taproom in Fort Collins but it's surprising that there was no outlet in Denver, the big city nearby.

Well, there is now! We were en route from the bus stop to Epic Brewing. When we crossed Larimer Street we saw this pub.

Well, I couldn’t miss it as it has a colossal painting of hops on the bine on its side wall. This is the work of Mona Caron, a San Francisco artist who specialises in plants. We had to find time to visit so headed quickly over the road. Inside was a bar room with bare brick walls. The brewing is done at the back by Brent Cordle on a brand new ten barrel (bbls) plant. He was previously in charge of the pilot brewery in Fort Collins.

There were three circular wooden table with stools in the window area. On the left side of the room there are three high tables with high chairs. On the other side of the space are three conventional low tables with chairs. The bar counter is to be found on the right at the end of the room. I didn’t visit the upstairs bar which looks more comfortable with soft and leather furnishing. There is an open balcony here and at ground level there is a side patio.

Odell2There were eight beers from the head office brewery at Fort Collins and they were: Sunny Rain (6.0%), a golden ale; St Lupulin (6.5%), an extra pale ale; 90 Shilling (5.2%), a Scottish Ale; Drumroll (5.3%), an American Pale Ale; Myrcenary (9.2%), a double IPA; Odell IPA (7.0%); Rupture (6.0%), an IPA and Colorado Lager (5.2%). Most of the above make up the permanent list of Odell’s beers.

There were a further eight beers brewed in house: Milkshake (7.3%), an IPA; Pineapple Berliner Weisse (6.7%), self explanatory!; Hop Wok # 1 (7.7%), an IPA; Imperial IPA (10.0%), a double IPA; LiL RiNo (4.5%), a session IPA; Sabro (6.1%), an IPA; Margerita Crossover Ale (4.5%), a sour ale and Chocolate Coffee Stout (6.5%).

We tried four beers in total and this is what we thought of them: from the Fort Collins brewery we had Odell IPA which had medium bitterness and a mild aftertaste; 90 Shilling Ale was a must as this was one of our host’s favourite beers and we had already consumed several bottles at his apartment. We thought this version was well balanced and quite bitter, unlike some Scottish ales. Drumroll was very hoppy with a very bitter after taste, it could be an IPA in flavour. Finally one from Denver; LiL RiNo had a citrus taste and finish; very good.

This is a very worthy addition to the many brew-pubs and breweries of RiNo.

Important Information:

Odell Brewing - Denver RINO Brewhouse, 2945 Larimer Street, Denver 80205. Tel: 720 795 7862

Hours: Sunday-Tuesday 12.00-22.00; Wednesday-Saturday 12.00-24.00

The 44 bus route is very useful as it travels through the RINO district with its many breweries and brew-pubs. It goes through the city centre on 15th and 17th Streets then goes north till it reaches 44th Avenue.
The 44 runs half hourly on weekdays, hourly from 19.00, and hourly at weekends.

Coming from down town alight at the Lawrence Street & 30th Street stop.
Walk a short way back to 30th Street. Turn right into it. Walk till you get to Larimer Street.
Turn left and you will see the painting on the pub’s side.
The stop to take the bus to down town is right outside the pub on the same pavement.