Today, we profile the last beer to reach the Final Four in the Paste IPA Challenge. Winning the Northwest bracket, Odell IPA joins Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA and Cigar City Jai Alai in Final Four, coincidentally, also held in Atlanta this year but with much less fanfare. (For the rest of our IPA Challenge coverage, click here.)
We talked to Odell brewmaster Bill Beymer about the Fort Collins, Colo. brewery’s IPA, released in 2007. “So many attempts at IPAs are over the top on hops just to make a bitter bomb,” he says. “We wanted something more balanced with great malt flavor, great hop flavor and a phenomenal hop aroma.”
The trick, he says, is waiting until the end of the process to bring in the big hop guns. “We don’t put a lot of hops in right up front in the boil. But we do right at the end to give it that hop aroma.”
Beymer came to Odell from an unexpected place for a craft brewer—spending 25 years with Annheuser-Busch. In fact, he got his start at Sea World (which was purchased by the brewing giant), working in the hospitality center. The only way for the center to give away free beer was to brew it on the premises. He learned how to brew on a two-barrel system and moved full time into brewing for the company.
“I always looked to the craft world for the beer I loved,” he says. “Odell was number one on my list. I wanted to make full-flavored beers that I truly loved.”
When he’s not drinking Odell, Beymer has a strong affinity for the beers of Great Divide, along with Ballast Point and Pizza Port, both based in his hometown of San Diego.
Tomorrow we’ll announce the final matchups and the overall winner of Paste’s Top of the Hops IPA Challenge.
Here’s the updated Top of the Hops bracket (Click to enlarge):