Back in October, along with our friends at the Seattle Beer News, we introduced you to Odin Brewing. In the past couple of months you might have noticed their beer showing up around town. I recently stopped in at Odin Brewing in South Seattle to visit with Brian Taft, Odin’s head brewer, and see how things are shaping up.
South Park has long been home to Baron Brewing (formerly Lunar Brewing) and more recently was the home for two of Washington’s emerging, young breweries–Trade Route Brewing and Schooner Exact Brewing. In fact, all three of those breweries were located in the same business park within a stone’s throw of each other.
For awhile, it seemed that South Park was turning into Seattle’s cradle of craft beer, but in September 2009 Trade Route moved south to Pacific, WA and Schooner Exact moved north to Seattle’s SODO district. Just as those two breweries vacated, Odin Brewing moved into a neighboring business park just one block north of Baron Brewing.
Who’s behind the brews?
Brian Taft’s pedigree includes a stint at the Porterhouse Brewing Company in Dublin, Ireland, where he worked from the ground up, learning all he could about running a brewery (washing kegs, cleaning mash tuns, etc) and the art of brewing traditional English-style ales. More recently, he worked as the brewmaster at Gordon Biersch in Seattle.
While brewing at Gordon Biersch may not seem too horribly sexy for a craft beer purist, Brian learned something during his tenure there that is absolutely critical for any successful craft brewer. “I learned how to be consistent, that’s for sure,” Brain tells me. “Dan Gordon has a very clear vision and still has control over most of the recipes. He insists that people taste the same beer at all Gordon Biersch locations, so there is no room for inconsistency.”
Today, Brian is applying all he’s learned to create beers that are both approachable and interesting. Odin is producing beer and serving it at 20-something accounts around town. According to Brian, Odin Ruby Ale has become a regular tap at a few different locations in the Seattle area, including the Tin Hat (Ballard), Smith Pub (Capitol Hill) and Quinn’s Pub (Capitol Hill). I’ve encountered it at Naked City and the Pub at Pipers Creek.
Where to get it
“You can find us around,” Brian told me, “People seem to be appreciating the Ruby Ale. We intended it to be approachable. We didn’t really want to jump straight into the big IBU race and make big, strong, hoppy beers.”
Odin is the name of the chief god of Norse paganism, which explains one thing. “We’re a regular handle at the Tin Hat in Ballard. We seem to be landing a lot of accounts in Ballard: they apparently like the beer as well as the whole Nordic thing.”
The Ruby Ale is smooth and well balanced. Yes, it is red. I hesitate to call it an amber for fear of conjuring up any preconceived notions. It seems less malty and more balanced than the popular beer that most people recognize as the definitive amber ale these days. Ruby Ale is quaffable for sure. It weighs in just a bit over 5%, making it a session beer by today’s standards. You’ll notice a hint of something that you cannot quite put your finger on. It’s juniper berry. For a relatively mild ale, the juniper adds just enough character to capture your interest but does not at all overpower any other facet of the profile.
Right now, to meet demand they’re brewing the Ruby Ale just about as fast as they can. They’re gaining momentum, not just in sales but in production as well. Brian was working on a couple of other beers when I visited. Currently, they’re in the process of perfecting a Kolsch. They’re also working on a smoked porter.
When I visited, the cold room had not yet been built. It is on the way. “That’s the last hurdle before we’re ready to open our tap room,” says Brian. “Hopefully in about a month we’ll have the tap room open.”
When Odin opens their tap room, we surely will let you know about it.
Have you tasted their beer? What did you think? Where have you seen it? Inquiring minds want to know.