Those who have the opportunity to live in Colorado know how significant the microbrewing scene is in this state, and amongst the best in the industry is Odell Brewing Company.
The modest, yet successful brewery got its start back in 1989 when it was founded by a trio of Odell family members, Doug, Wynne and Corkie. Over the years the company has grown immensely and is now one of the most popular brewing companies in the rocky mountain region, which is saying a lot.
In an exclusive interview with usedview.com today, Odell Brewing Company co-founder Doug Odell took some time to discuss his company, its beer and what the future may hold for the brewery.
When companies first begin, their ideals and philosophy are certainly established one way, and then after three decades or so have past, most companies would probably have changed those beliefs, but not Odell.
Doug said since the brewery was opened back in 1989, their mindset has not strayed away from what their philosophies on beer were when they initially opened.
“I don’t believe our philosophy on beer has changed.
“We have always tried to brew beer to the best of our ability. When I started, my philosophy was to brew the best beer I could and make a living doing so.
“It has evolved into; brew the best beer we can, employ the best people we can, and pay our people the best we can for doing so.
“Our philosophy has always been to grow at a managed rate and we have done so. Our success has been and will continue to be attributed to careful planning,” Odell said.
Folks who are familiar with the Fort Collins, Colorado brewery will know two of its most popular drafts are 90 Shillling and Easy Street Wheat. Another up and coming ale is the hoppy Odell IPA.
Doug spoke about how long 90 Shilling has been their top selling beer and what he thinks could overtake it someday.
“90 Shilling has been a mainstay since 1989. It is still our best selling beer and has given us the ability to broaden our horizons,” Odell said. “Odell IPA is the fastest growing beer of ours and may someday take over the top spot.”
With microbreweries being so popular in Colorado, competition is vast, but Odell believes it is a good thing for brewers, whether they are of the same company or not, to support each other.
“We encourage camaraderie with our fellow brewers. My belief holds that Craft Brewers are stronger supporting each other than fighting each other,” Odell said.
Demand is something many brewers struggle with, whether it is high or it is low, and Odell said the most difficult thing his company faces is “keeping up with the demand.”
His concerns are not just exclusive to his organization as he talked about how he hopes the industry doesn’t fall back into a pattern where people get into the industry for the sake of financial gain.
“What I am concerned with is a repeat of 1996-1997 when people were getting into the business and either not making good beer, or just getting in for the money,” Odell said. “I think the quality of brewing knowledge is way better than then but the lack of brewing passion of some entrants concerns me.”
Trends occur in any industry and Odell said the quantity of brewers is one of the leading fads is the amount of brewers around today.
“Lots more brewers, lots more beer styles. The tap room without food concept is currently working quite well for some brewers. Food trucks really make this,” Odell said.
Companies that are successful eventually have to face difficult business decisions, especially when it comes to expansion. Doug said their philosophy regarding distribution has not, and will not change anytime soon.
“Our philosophy has always been to be a rocky mountain and western plains brewery. We are currently in 10 states that more or less surround Colorado.
“This won’t change in at least in the next 5 years. As soon as we get new capacity on line, we will enter Texas,” Odell said.
Every industry has trends and certain things that come up that consumers love, and one of those certainly seems to be the emergence of Saison ales. Odell is not behind the times as they to have their own Saison that is part of their pilot taproom. It’s called Flash Mob Saison.
Odell talked about the Saison, perhaps why folks are so drawn to the beer type and Odell’s approach to brewing new beers.
“Saison is a very refreshing style of beer with lots of flavor. Time will tell on the lasting impact. I just hope we don’t start to see double and triple saisons.
“Simply stated, we will brew any beer that seems feasible. We will also brew beers that don’t seem feasible. Our customers will tell us what is and isn’t,” Odell said.
When making a new beer like a Saison, Odell said their inspiration comes from anyone and any department.
“Ideas come from both our brewing staff and our sales/marketing staff.
“These two departments join together in our product development team. In our case, there is very little risk trying a new concept since we can first brew a beer on our pilot system,” Odell said.
Folks who live inside of Colorado and anyone who has been to the convention knows of the Great American Beer Festival. Doug talked about what he thinks of the event as well as what he expects his company to achieve over the next half decade.
“It is a great exposure festival for craft brewing. I hope the BA (Brewers Association) can continue to prevent it from becoming a sh*t show. I think the Colorado Brewers Guild Brewers Rendezvous amongst the trees at the riverside park in Salida, CO is still the best.
“Stay true to our balanced growth ideal, brew the best beer we can, continue to engage our co-workers, continue to innovate, and remain profitable as we have been since year one,” Odell said.