Stouts are a curious thing, when it comes to review ratings. In some senses, they’re a forgiving style—there’s not a ton of checkmarks you need to get right. Is it roasty? Mildly to moderately sweet? Generally blackish in color? Well, then you’re probably most of the way there. It may not be great, but they almost have a certain baseline of drinkability. I’ve had very few standard stouts that were ever truly bad—like, drain-pour bad.
This does mean there are a lot of decent or middling stouts out there, though, and it also means there’s a certain degree of difficulty in standing out or cracking through that stout barrier. Still, it’s an easygoing and beloved style—who doesn’t love a good stout, when the mood strikes? Your new stout may not set the world ablaze, but it’s likely to find an audience of appreciative drinkers.
Such it is with the new oatmeal stout from Odell, a solid showing that is better than quite a few of the beers in its same field, but somewhere short of the peak.
“Gramps” packs a very nice, as-expected aroma that is roast heavy, with lots of bitter, black coffee and an undercurrent of bittersweet dark chocolate. There’s certainly no shortage of flavor when one takes a drink—it reminds one of smoky, slightly burnt French roast coffee with a dollop of cream to keep everything in check. It’s one of the roastier stouts I’ve had recently, with some good “char” character that is kept from getting too bitter by the creamy character, likely a factor of the oatmeal in grist. It actually drinks a bit like a milk stout, the creaminess of the oatmeal approximating the sweetness and increased body of a stout made with lactose. As it warms, some more of the sweetness comes out, and caramel flavors that remind me fondly of Grandpa’s Werther’s Originals. It’s an interesting transformation from something that is drier and more roast-heavy into a beer that is almost a little on the decadent side.
Brewery: Odell Brewing Co.
City: Fort Collins, Colo.
Style: Oatmeal stout
Availability: Fall/winter seasonal, 12 oz bottles