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Colorado’s Odell Brewing comes to Texas

Arianna Auber

Odell might be one of the larger craft breweries in the country — with about 85 employees and a recent brewhouse expansion that will kick production up to about 300,000 barrels this year — but bringing beer to all corners of the United States isn’t soon a top goal for the Colorado-based, family-run brewery. That’s partly why, when four of its beers go on tap next week around Texas, it’ll be a move that’s been a long time coming. Twenty-five years in the making, to be precise.

After Doug Odell founded the Fort Collins brewery in 1989 with his wife, Wynne, and sister, Corkie, it remained important for Odell Brewing to maintain a family culture that allows those who work there to “advance professionally, as well as have great personal lives,” in addition to making solid craft beer, Todd Ewing, Odell’s Texas sales manager, said.

So in the years since Odell produced the flagship beer, 90 Shilling Ale, it’s carefully expanded to 10 other states and Great Britain, and none of those states are east of the Mississippi River or on the west coast, either. Texas, Odell’s first market in three years, is by far its biggest: South Dakota, Nebraska and New Mexico, and all other states carrying Odell beers, don’t have populations of more than 6.5 million, Ewing pointed out; Texas is at about 26 million. But Odell is prepared, as the new brewing system will help produce four times the amount of beer the brewery put out in 2013.

Odell is also making sure to take full advantage of all of Texas’ eager beer drinkers. In Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin — as well as outlying towns like College Station and Galveston — there will be more than 70 parties at various bars and restaurants during Odell’s launch week starting Monday. Those include 22 in Austin, where Odell has strong ties.

Pinthouse Pizza’s head brewer, Joe Mohrfeld, worked at Odell for four years, one of those as head brewer, so he’s done something extra to welcome Odell to the state: a collaboration brew with Odell’s head of production, Brendan McGivney. Ewing said they’ve tweaked an old recipe they once made on Odell’s pilot system, a “big hop bomb” of a beer called T.A.P. Texas (Tasty Ass Pale) that you can get your first taste of at Pinthouse’s Odell event beginning at 7 p.m. Monday. Pinthouse will have five Odell beers on draft in addition to T.A.P. Texas, including 90 Shilling, Odell IPA, Runoff Red IPA, Cutthroat Porter, and Myrcenary Double IPA, a beer that Mohrfeld named during his days at Odell. (The beer manager at the Whole Foods at the Domain, Krystal Angelo, is another Odell alum coordinating an Odell tap takeover there.)

Most places won’t have Cutthroat Porter on draft. Ewing said the brewers decided to start small in part “to have fun releasing the rest of our beers over time and when it makes seasonally.” There also won’t be any Odell beers in bottles here until March 31.

Odell isn’t the only Colorado brewery to come to Texas this year. Elevation Beer, from Poncha Springs, Colo., chose to distribute out-of-state to Texas first (a rare move because of our strict beer laws) with three beers now on draft and in stores around town. Look out for the Apis IV Quad, Downpour Imperial Red Ale and Fanboy Double IPA in places like Hi Hat Public House and Salt and Time.