Let me just take a moment to highlight one of my favorite breweries. Not just in Colorado – but anywhere.
Odell Brewing Co., out of Fort Collins has stayed with me since before I even liked beer. When I was a young(er) beer enthusiast, their 90 Shilling Scottish Ale was my favorite, right above New Belgium’s Sunshine Wheat (with pizza) and Coors Light (with parties). As I grew, I fell in love with their IPA, then their Mountain Standard Black IPA. Before I knew it, I’d formed a spiritual, gastronomical bond with their beers.
Most of their beers.
Like a lot of breweries, Odell puts out bigger, 750mL bottles of their more time-consuming, niche-market experimental brews that beer geeks crave. Unlike a lot of breweries, you’d be hard-pressed to find one for less than $10. And I’m cheap, so I’ve never had one.
But thank the Hop Gods above, I finally found a bottle on sale ($2 off!) and decided it was a sign. And that’s all I needed to make Pond Hopper Double Extra Pale Ale mine.
Odell collaborated with Thornbridge Brewery to make this beer, which is a British brewery – hence the “Pond Hopper” name – with an interesting mission. According to their website, one location makes beer that “highlights the traditional infusion mash ale system” while another “highlights our ability to innovate through technology.”
The beer itself, says Odell’s website, is made with English malts and American hops, with a splash of Australian galaxy hops thrown in to honor Thornbridge’s production manager, Caolan Vaughan.
With so much diversity, it’s a wonder the beer holds together so well.
Pond Hopper Double Extra Pale Ale
Sight: The corked bottle gives a nice “pop,” followed by a wave of sweet aroma, which I’ll get to next. Pond Hopper pours a hazy orange gold capped by a huge beige head that sticks, slowly fades, and never goes away.
Smell: At first, a strong spicy citrus aroma smacks the face, stinking wonderfully of orange juice and pine. It takes a minute, but you’ll suddenly smell fresh cantaloupe, and it will blow your mind.
Taste: Note that this is a pale ale, not an India pale ale. So the harsh, palate-smashing bitter hops never come about. But there’s plenty of bitterness. Sweet, fresh citrus hops dominate the front of the taste and are just balanced out by substantial, but mellow, malts reminiscent of white bread or biscuits.
The finish is light, considering the 8.9% ABV and the amount of hops they use. But overall it feels both creamy and juicy throughout.
Overall: I give it a 93. Just short of exceptional. The flavors are bold, bittersweet and well balanced, which are led into by a sensationally delicious smell. Seriously, it should be made into a candle. Pond Hopper is bitter and hop-driven without being overbearing, and the malts make a smooth appearance as the beer warms.
The biggest setback is its light body, which could go along with its “pale ale” designation. For a beer with so much flavor, I’d expect it to be a bit more rounded – mostly in the malt department. But still, it’s delicious and unique. Definitely worth the money if you can find it on sale. If not, stick to the rest of their stellar repertoire.