On Nov. 18, 1989, Odell Brewing Co. sold its first keg of beer in Fort Collins, Colo. Just one day prior, Boulevard Brewing Co. opened its doors in Kansas City, Mo. and sold a keg of its own. Though the two were 650 miles apart, a lasting friendship began with those first kegs.
Twenty-five years later, founders John McDonald and the Odells (Doug, his wife Wynne, and his sister Corkie) have made lasting names for themselves in the craft beer industry – one that was nearly non-existent when they first entered the business. “I think the way people viewed beer in 1989 was that it was all just American light lager,” Doug explained in an interview with Recommended Daily. “I was a little concerned about deviating from what people were used to in beer. We started with a beer darker in color and hoppier in character.”
Odell and McDonald kept that original character in mind when talk began of brewing a collaboration beer to commemorate 25 years in the business. “John and I met up during Boulevardia and that was the start of the beer,” Doug told Recommended Daily. “We referred to it as an American strong ale and decided on malts, the approximate alcohol by volume and that the IBU was going to be 45. That was the base we would follow and then you could use whatever yeast you want and hop it whatever way you want. We did what we like to do. We chose some interesting flavor and aroma hops to give it that good bright character.
And a good, bright beer it is. Though the two versions of Silver Anniversary Ale vary slightly (Boulevard’s bottled version has a richer malt character, while Odell’s draft-only version is hoppier), they are both a true testament to the breweries’ original roots. “I like it. It came out like I had in mind,” Doug said. “It’s a strong ESB in that it was a little more malty than pale. It’s not as bitter. It’s a little more malt forward. I think we got the balance right between bitterness, hop flavor and the malt backbone.”
That balance can be seen in both the beer and the breweries, which have continued to grow and expand organically. “[Odell Brewing has] done a great job of adding a new brewhouse and evolving as we have,” McDonald told Recommended Daily. “Beer has gotten pretty crazy these days. When we started back in the 80’s, [Silver] would have been a wild beer in 1989. But those beers that we made then would be a pretty straightforward type of beer today.”
Doug agreed. “We had this starting date in common and that type of beer was our inspiration – we wanted to go back to the beginning.”
Silver Anniversary Ale is part of Old Chicago’s Explorer Series, and can be found in all of the Boulevard Brewing and Odell Brewing markets. Check out our events calendar for a Silver tapping near you.
Photo Credits (from top): Boulevard Brewing, Odell Brewing