Odell Brewing Co. 90 Shilling Ale - £2.85; 355ml; 5.8%
Having started small, with just two beers in the range, theirs is an archetypical example of America’s craft beer revival in action. The company now operates a 45,000 barrel plant (a typical UK micro is around 15, to give a sense of scale), and distributes its beers around the world.
Despite their success, the brewery remains grounded in its focus upon ethical and sustainable trading, and the company’s founders remain active in its daily running.
Their original two beers, Easy Street Wheat, and 90 Shilling ale, remain within their core range – the latter is to this day, their flagship ale. While many UK breweries currently take their cues from the US, this ale’s recipe comes from a time where the opposite was the case: Doug Odell formulated the recipe in an attempt to produce a light, drinkable version of a Scotch ale, and he did so with resounding success.
Pouring a deep chestnut with ruby highlights, underneath a rich fudgey head, this ale positively glows in the glass. The aroma is complex and spicy, layering the grassy noble-hop aromas of continental lagers with damp straw and a touch of lemon.
Medium bodied in the mouth, gingerbread and hazelnut sweetness give way to dry woodiness and a liquorice sourness before finishing with a flourish of herbal aromatics.
The finish is at once a touch sour and salty, backed up with a scattering of peppercorns that leave a complex bitterness running across the palate.
Both drinkable and worthy of contemplation, it’s no surprise this beer paved the way for Odell’s future success.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York, YO1 8AS