Reviewed: Odell Wolf Picker Experimental IPA
Official description: Know your Hop Farmer. That’s what we believe. Wolf Picker, named after the classic hop harvesting rig, celebrates our decades-long relationships with hop farmers, and our obsession with new talent in the world of experimental hops. This year, we’re featuring the newcomer known as Strata which brings notes of grapefruit, peach and mango to an IPA unlike anything we’ve released. Official video about this beer.
Odell Brewing Co. – Odell Wolf Picker Experimental IPA – 12oz can served in stemless snifter – 5.5% ABV
This latest release from Odell uses Strata hops (a newer varietal from Oregon State University and Indie Hops), which I first tried in the 2018 version of Deschutes Chasin’ Freshies. That beer was phenomenal and made my Top Beers of 2018. Most beers I’ve tried from Odell lately have been Triple IPAs and Imperial Red IPAs. I’m not a big fan of those substyles, so was pleasantly surprised to see a 5.5% IPA arrive in cans! My particular can sampled has a best before date of 4/19/19 and it looks like it was canned 12/19/18 (part of the printed date drifts off the edge of the can into oblivion), giving this IPA a rather large 4-month freshness window.
Pouring into the glass, another delight, this is slightly hazy pale golden in color. I don’t see a malt bill for this beer on Odell’s website or on the can, but clearly this recipe skips the specialty malts. Generous foam rises up almost out of the glass with rocky topography and a variety of bubble sizes ranging from large to nanoscale. Head retention is amazing as this thing refuses to collapse for at least 5 minutes. The aroma is immediately spectacular just as I found in my initial experience with Strata hops in Chasin’ Freshies. Bright lime zest and pineapple pop immediately segueing to ripe, juicy mango as it approaches room temperature. This is one of the best hop aromas I’ve experienced.
A few sips in, Wolf Picker is ticking all of the boxes for a modern, clear IPA. The body is super clean with bright flavors of mango and pineapple. Bitterness is dialed back almost too much to an overall 3/10 level. Body/sugar is fairly light but it doesn’t need to be too thick to cope with such modest bitterness. Mouthfeel is light and aerated with a touch of acidity in the backend like sourdough bread. The end result is a refreshing, lighter-bodied IPA with minimal kettle hop presence but loads of aroma hops.
Wolf Picker is a slam dunk in my opinion. It allows you to enjoy a vibrant, specialty hop varietal in a simple, no-specialty-malt vehicle. I’m very happy to see Odell going this route for 2019 and hope to see more beers like this in the future.
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