The newest brewery to take up residence in Denver's richest brewery district is actually one of Colorado's oldest beer makers. Odell Brewing, founded in Fort Collins in 1989, will open its highly anticipated pilot brewery and taproom on Monday, June 4, at 2945 Larimer Street, joining the cool cats in the River North Art District and pushing the notion that age — the age of a brewery, anyway — is just a number.
Set in a two-story, 101-year-old brick building next to the new Shake Shack, the new Odell Brewing Co. taproom is decked out in dark chairs and couches that are reminiscent of a cozy, English-style pub. Exposed brick can be seen everywhere, and polished wood covers the floors and stairway. The first floor includes a bar with sixteen taps and a patio off to the side, while the second story boasts a second bar and a deck with glimpses of RiNo between the buildings.
A sweeping hops mural by San Francisco-based artist Mona Caron covers the exterior and part of the second-story deck. Caron, whose primary subject is plant life, has also created label art for Odell.
Odell first revealed its plans to enter Denver in April 2017 and had hoped to open later that year, but standard delays held the company back until now, leaving Denver fans thirsty.
"There have been so many forehead and hand prints on the windows" from people peering inside over the past few weeks, says Odell marketing director Alex Kayne, that employees keep having to wash the windows.
As for the beer menu, it's a perfect blend of big and small, old and new. On one side are eight of Odell's staples — made in Fort Collins — including 90 Schilling, one of the brewery's original offerings, along with St. Lupulin, Rupture, Drumroll, Odell IPA, Myrcenary Double IPA, Sunny Rain and the brand-new Colorado Lager.
On the other side are beers made at the RiNo facility that fit the style requirements of more modern taproom denizens. There's a milkshake IPA (the first in a series of test batches that will result in a packaged version later this year), a hazy session IPA, a guava gose, a pineapple Berliner Weisse, two small-batch IPAs, a chocolate coffee stout, and something called Margarita Crossover Ale.
The shiny new ten-barrel pilot system will be run by Brent Cordle, who has overseen the pilot brewery and the barrel-aging program at Odell's Fort Collins headquarters for several years.
"For so long, we've been proudly Fort Collins. But when it came time for a second location, we knew Denver was where we wanted to be," Kayne says. "The beer drinkers in Denver are so educated, it will be a good proving ground for us and our pilot system. We will be able to mold some truly world-class beers here."
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With more than seventy breweries within the city limits and dozens more in nearby suburbs, Denver is already an intensely competitive market for breweries. And RiNo, which has nearly a dozen of those, along with several cideries and wineries, is the center point for some of that competition.
But Kayne says Odell takes the view that the pie is growing larger because of Denver's rapid growth, so rather than taking away business from other breweries and bars, Odell hopes to simply add itself to the mix. Before announcing the new brewery, company co-founder Wynne Odell talked with some nearby breweries to try and ease concerns. Kayne says the company has also talked with some of the nearby bars that serve Odell beer in an effort to prevent them from feeling like they are competing with a vendor.
In 2016, Oskar Blues took some heat from Falling Rock Tap House owner Chris Black when the Longmont brewery announced that it would build a large restaurant and beer bar downtown. The Oskar Blues Grill & Brew, which opened last December, serves a full menu and has 48 beers on tap, including many non-Oskar Blues offerings. The Odell tap house, by contrast, doesn't serve food and only sells Odell beer.