"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Quest for Perfection Took Less Time Than I Thought

It is well known among friends and family that my passion for beer goes a bit beyond the norm.  If there was any doubt to that, the very existence of this blog ought to lay those suspicions to rest.  Since beer is my forte, I am invariably asked the deceptively-easy-but-actually-difficult question: What’s your favorite beer? 
Gah!  Why don’t you ask a mother which is her favorite child or ask Michael Moore which is his favorite chin?  They’d both have an easier time answering than me.  I always cop-out when presented with that query.  Sometimes I name about six or seven that may be in the running for first.  Other times I just name styles of beer I like.  If I’m feeling specific, I say I like this beer in this context and I like this beer in this other context e.g. I like Left Hand’s Milk Stout when I'm in a dark bar in winter and I like Great Divide’s DPA when I'm outside and the weather is hot and sunny. 
I’ve tried a ton of beer in my life and to place each one at a specific point in the hierarchy is a daunting task.  One of the problems is that I like a lot more beers than I don’t like.  If I tried 100 beers I might give my favorite of the bunch a 95% satisfactory rating but I’d give my least favorite, oh, say, an 88% satisfactory rating.  Now, how does one sort through that cluster?  It’d be much easier if I was able to spread them over the entire spectrum (0%-100%) but that’s difficult because I generally avoid beer that is, well, bad and am thus tasked with sorting through hundreds of beers that are essentially tied for first.  What I need is a beer that is several strides ahead of the pack.  I need a clear winner.
And here he is crossing the finish line.
Myrcenary (9.3% ABV), a double IPA from Odell Brewing Co., is the beer I’ve been questing for these many, many years.  Myrcenary is the Kenyan at the London Marathon.  The Watson at the Jeopardy! tournament.  The Mayor McCheese at the 18th Annual Edible Head Awards.  Myrcenary doesn’t win—Myrcenary dominates.
Think I’m exaggerating?  Well, perhaps from your perspective and with your specific likes and dislikes, Myrcenary—misspelled so as to bring to mind the word “myrcene,” an essential oil found in the hop flower—isn’t the zenith of beer.  However, if you were to drink with my taste buds you’d think Myrcenary was custom-made for your enjoyment.
Let me run you through why Myrcenary deserves so much praise:
Color:  Caution: objects in your pint are more potent than they appear. To the unassuming passerby, Myrcenary might not look like anything more than a prosaic Budweiser: it’s clear, yellow (although the trained eye can see that it is actually a slightly darker shade of yellow than Bud), and has a pure white head.  The ordinary color is part of Myrcenary’s charm, though; it doesn’t need to dazzle you with rich ambers, cloudy oranges, or the priest’s collar look of a well-poured Guinness.  It looks exactly like what the average person thinks of when they think “beer”: a simple yellow.  But, behind the simplicity hides a labyrinth of aromas and flavors. 
Aroma: If, for whatever reason, you have an affinity for driving riding mowers through coniferous forests, then you have a good idea of what Myrcenary smells like: fresh cut grass and pine (with floral hints).  If you’re not a loony who drives a John Deere through the woods then a better comparison might be to Russian River’s Pliny the Elder.  The aroma is strong but also pleasant and relaxing.  I could sniff it and sigh with satisfaction for hours.
Taste and Mouthfeel: At the time of my virgin sip of Myrcenary, the cliché’ image of clouds parting, sending a single beam of light onto me, and angelic voices heralding the coming of the Chosen Beer rushed to mind.  I licked my lips and gaped in reverence of this holiest of brews.  Surely, no mortal man could have devised a way to take hops, malted barley, water, and yeast and combine them in such a way that it causes the drinker such euphoria.  Nay, this is surely the work of The Divine.
But that was when I was tasting with emotion.  After the first few sips my analytical mind kicked into gear and I started to pick Myrcenary apart piece by piece.  As a result of my scrutiny, the heavenly façade of the beer collapsed and my childlike wonder waned.  But not so much that its spot at number one is endangered.  Perhaps Myrcenary is not ambrosia of the gods but it is still worthy of being, at least, the Kool-Aid of the demigods. 
Myrcenary is lousy with sensations and each one works in congruency with the others to create the most balanced beer I’ve ever had.  The high ABV and the potency of the hops warms the entirety of the mouth even when the beer is, to the touch, chilled.  Though powerful, the hop taste does not wallop the drinker with extreme bitterness like those in the sub-genre of West Coast IPAs (loyal readers might remember me railing against this particular style in my posts about California breweries) but allows the drinker to taste the flavor of the hops—piney, like the aroma.  The astute drinker will also notice the sweetness of the malts present in the aftertaste.  As the beer warms, the sweetness no longer relegates itself to the aftertaste but shows up from beginning to end.  Unlike other malty IPAs (yet another style I have railed against) that claim a “balance” between hops and malt but really give you a beer whose sweetness counteracts the hoppy effects, Myrcenary’s malts work with the hops; you can taste both at the same time.  In terms of mouthfeel, Myrcenary tingles like electricity at the tip of the tongue.  Then, when the drinker is halfway through the pint, it feels as though the entire tongue is coated with a ½ inch thick, numbing lacquer.  Perhaps it doesn’t sound pleasant in writing but it is actually a very satisfying experience. 
And that, my friend, is how Myrcenary surged ahead of the masses and solved the mystery as to what I should consider to be my favorite beer.  It is Odell’s latest year-round offering—meaning you don’t have to wait for a specific season to roll around before you get it—so I suggest you run out and see if your liquor store has it in stock right now.  And, if you feel like solidifying your friendship with me, hey, I’ll take a few off your hands.  You know.  If you don't want it or something.


  1. Agreed. I picked it up on a whim and was extremely pleased. Well done, ODell.

  2. They deserve all the props you can heap on 'em. Props to the hops.