I’ve never had Odell before, but I like them. The bottle is interesting, slightly unique in shape and with glass-embossed leaves, their logo, ringing the body, just before it juts into the neck. The label is made of hearty paper, not shiny and slippery, giving it a more rustic, toned down feel. I like the artwork and the simplicity of name: Red Ale.

But alas, I must not judge a beer by its bottle and so I must indulge. As I’ve been doing of late, ever since learning the proper pouring technique, I dropped this red ale directly down into the center of my pint. It foamed, as most do, and rapidly settled to about two fingers. It was a nice aspect of the beer, it left breathy tan film around my glass and heaps of head, like surf foam on a beach. The body was rich, a dark mahogany, farther along the journey towards brown than red. In the light, there were glimmers of ruby, too. The hops were present immediately on the nose, but balance was obvious, even before my first sip, as a nutty maltiness reigned in the earthy, piney notes.

I should have known by the head, but this red ale shocked me first with its smoothness. The body was great, filling my mouth with a purposeful recipe of malt and hops. The pine was the second to finish, followed only by a light bark, oaky and dry. As it warmed, the bark-like quality became more refined, more specifically cedar than just plain ol’ bark. The malts were on the heavy side, adding a weight that helped make this a great winter time choice (it is available January-April).

Red Ales make me feel like curling up in the living room, just a few feet from a roaring fire and listening to the sounds of a blustering winter wind. This fine selection from Odell does that in droves, giving me a strong, solid brew founded in malt, but peppered with pops of interest with a fair hop profile. A great balance and a great brew.