Westword Announces Collab with Odell Brewing | Westword
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Westword Announces Collaboration With Odell Brewing

A December 15 tap-release party at the Sloan’s Lake brewery will celebrate Westword Wheat, a beer made with 100 percent Colorado-sourced ingredients.
On December 15 from 5-7 p.m., the public is invited to join the tap release party for Westword Wheat at Odell Sloan’s Lake.
On December 15 from 5-7 p.m., the public is invited to join the tap release party for Westword Wheat at Odell Sloan’s Lake. Odell Brewing
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When we thought about something unique we could do to increase awareness of Westword’s end-of-year membership drive, a beer collab seemed obvious. Westword writes about beer year-round, and it’s pretty satisfying to say you helped support local journalism by buying a beer from a beloved Colorado brewery.

So we teamed up with Odell. Founded in 1989, Odell and Westword share a history of nurturing a culture of family and collaboration within their walls. In April 2021, Odell brought its brews to Denver when it opened a ten-barrel pilot brewhouse at Sloan’s Lake.

On Friday, December 15, from 5 to 7 p.m., we invite everyone — Westword members and non-members alike — to join us for a tap-release party for Westword Wheat at Odell Sloan’s Lake. Raise a glass to local journalism and local beer, take a brewery tour, and hang out with the Westword and Odell teams.

The perks of the collab

Those who've become new Westword members starting today will get a free pint of Westword Wheat at Odell Sloan's Lake (while the beer is available). Current members will get discounted $5 pints. The beer will also be available for take-home in a 32-ounce Crowler can that includes the Westword Wheat label (pictured above). At the tap release event, all members will get a 15 percent discount on Crowler purchases. Even better? For every pint of Westword Wheat sold, Odell will contribute $1 to support our newsroom.

To get you even more pumped, Westword spoke with Marni Wahlquist, head brewer at Odell Sloan’s Lake Brewhouse, to talk about her path to brewing and the collab.

Westword: When did you join the Odell team?

Marni Wahlquist: I started on the packaging line in January 2014. After I studied anthropology at CSU and lived in California, [my partner and I] moved back to Fort Collins because we craved a smaller community and we have family in the area. I’ve always been into craft beer. At the time, I owned a food fermentation business, but decided to start a family and looked at a part-time job on top of that.

I realized I couldn't do both, and made the decision to start down this new path in the beer industry. Beer and I found each other on a deeper level. Now I’ve been creating and brewing beer for seven years. I moved to Denver about three years ago, when I accepted the position to open this brewhouse.
click to enlarge Person in green shirt stands with barrels
Marni Wahlquist, head brewer at Odell's Sloan’s Lake Brewhouse.
Marni Wahlquist

You also refer to yourself as a sensory artist. What does that mean to you?

That name came about because of my daughter. She’s so creative with textiles, sculpting and hand-sewing. She was talking about herself as an artist. She asked if I was an artist. I said if I were, I would be a sensory artist because I create flavors for people to have experiences with their senses when they visit our taproom. Even for what we call the simplest of beer, like a lager or a pilsner, any time I have a first sip of the day, it’s such a sensory experience, from the aromas you smell before you take a drink to the changing tastes when it’s in your mouth, to the palate it leaves after you swallow.

What was your reaction when you heard Westword wanted to brew a beer with you?

Surprised because you’re a newspaper, but it made sense because you are a locally focused newspaper that writes about beer so much. We have so much great beer here in Colorado, so I thought it was really cool that you wanted to brew a beer. This is something I haven’t done for a newspaper before.

How did you go about sourcing ingredients for Westword Wheat?

When I found out it was wheat, I immediately went to Root Shoot Malting in Loveland. They grow all their grain up there on their farm. They have a lot of sustainable agriculture principles, great land management, and just are stewards of the land up there.

We have over 50 percent wheat in this beer — 45-47 percent is pilsner malt, then I did a blend of Olander Malted Wheat and White Malted Wheat. I also put in one fifty-pound bag of raw Olander Wheat to bring up that breadiness just a little bit to let that wheat pop.

I sourced Colorado-grown Crystal and Willamette hops from the Colorado Hop Company. They came through the beer in a really nice, uplifting way…almost like a little sweetness with floral notes. And we used one strain of our house yeast, locally sourced as well, and water. That’s it. That’s all that’s in the beer.
click to enlarge Person in black shirt shovels grain
Lily Black, Westword membership manager, helps brew Westword Wheat by shoveling grain out of a brewing vessel.
Katrina Leibee

How much Westword Wheat did you brew?

Ten barrels, which breaks down to about 331 gallons of beer.

So how many pints does that shake out to be?

I can do the math really quickly, actually…

Okay, I just need to get Denver ready for how many pints we need to put down. I love a beer challenge.

[Laughs.] It’s 2,648 pints. This is a popular style for us, so it usually sells pretty quickly. We’d expect this batch to be available on tap for one to two months.

Aside from meeting you, getting brewery tours, supporting local journalism and hanging out with us, why should Denverites come to the December 15 tapping party?

They should come to try a Colorado beer that’s made with 100 percent local ingredients, and then maybe also try some other beers that are new to them. Also, that Crowler is such a great holiday gift or beer to take to a holiday party, so they should come grab that.

Odell Sloan's Lake Brewhouse is located at 1625 Perry Street; find out more here.
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