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Belt’s Beer Garden: Reaching the Peak

Odell’s Mountain Standard & Breckenridge Hop Peak

This week I have two brews from Colorado that both used the Rocky Mountains they are so close to as inspiration for their product names.

Up first, we have Odell and their Mountain Standard.


Odell Brewing Company has been an independent craft brewery for 30 years now, opening their doors in Fort Collins, Colorado way back in 1989 and, since 2015, they’ve been employee owned.

Even though they’re one of the oldest breweries in the US, they have chosen to focused on a slow growth and are still only available in 19 states.

Back in late February they released a newcomer to their year-round brew list – Mountain Standard. The name is the same as their old black IPA that was retired last year but, make no mistake, this is a whole new beer.

The new Mountain Standard is brewed with “modern American hop varieties” and triple dry-hopped to create a super drinkable IPA that’s right in between a West Coast IPA and New England-style IPA. It’s sold in six-packs of cans for $10 and each beer has a solid 6.5% ABV and roughly 40 IBU.

Mountain Standard poured a bright golden color with two fingers of fluffy white foam building up and blocking the liquid below. The head sticks around for a while, slowly fading away and lacing the glass nicely as it does so.

Aroma-wise, this was a super juice bomb. Huge tropical notes of mango, papaya, melon, orange, and some light pineapple hit first and foremost. There was a sweetness there as well and a light crackery malt quality that sat in the background, peeking through occasionally.

My first taste began with a low carbonation hum and a super pillowy and creamy mouthfeel that seemed to expand, filling my entire mouth.

The flavors emerged slowly, with softer notes of a liquid fruit cocktail. The papaya, mango, and pineapple blend together initially, with the pineapple adding that signature sharpness. As things progressed, notes of juicy sweet orange bloomed across my taste buds and continued for most of the taste.

As things start to decline, the hops provide a low-level bitterness that just hits towards the back of the throat. And soon after that, the flavors have completely vanished.

Remaining after everything else is a sticky, resinous feeling, some moderate dryness, and a mild grapefruit/citrus rind bitterness. It’s nothing too terrible and can easily be wiped out by a quick swig of water (or with another sip of beer).

This merger of West Coast and New England-style IPAs was certainly the best of both worlds. It’s hoppy without the heavy bitter bite. It’s juicy without being overly sweet. It’s tasty as hell.

Thank goodness this is a year-round beer because I’ll be getting more of this for sure.

A-

Up next, another brewery that’s been around a long time - Breckenridge.

Breckenridge, like Odell, has nearly been around for three decades…opening their doors in Breckenridge, Colorado in 1990. After just two years they were successful enough to open a second location in Denver. After nearly twenty years, they outgrew that location too and, in 2015, moved to a 12-acre space in Littleton, nine miles outside of Denver. You can find their beers in half the States and the DC area.

Sadly, however, the same year they moved into their new Littleton location, the company announced it was being sold to AB InBev and is now one of the 14 “craft breweries” owned by Anheuser-Busch.

Even despite the fact that they’re no longer independent, I figured I’d give their Hop Peak IPA a shot.

Hop Peak, a year-round brew, features Citra and Simcoe hops and lupulin powder. Each bottle has a 6.5% ABV and 57 IBU and can be found in six-packs that run the usual price of $10.

Hop Peak poured a deep copper color and was mostly opaque. Just over a finger of bright, off-white head topped the brew and quickly fizzled down to a small accumulation that circled around the edge of the glass.

The aroma featured all the best parts of hops – juicy tropical fruits, some dankness, a dash of pine, and an oily floral characteristic. Some light crackery malt backed up the hops, balancing the brew nicely and complimenting the notes of mango, grapefruit, and orange the hops impart.

My first sip started with a solid hum of carbonation and a much thicker, creamier mouthfeel that ended up sitting on the heavier side as I continued to drink.

Flavors of pine and citrus swarm my taste buds up front. They hit with a heavy hand and, depending on the sip, either one can take the lead. Some swigs had the earthy flavors overpowering the citrus while other times it was the grapefruit and orange peel edging out the pine.

Those main characteristics battle it out throughout the entire taste but that doesn’t stop other flavors from join the fray midway through. There is an oily/resinous feeling that brings with is hints of grass and other floral flavors but was never strong enough to beat out the pine and citrus.

Underneath it all, the hops also add a light bitter twinge that drones on underneath it all and settles towards the back of my throat.

The malts didn’t add too much to flavor, as the hops really shined there, but there were some peaks of crackery sweetness that popped up occasionally towards the backend of the sips.

Hop Peak ends with some mild dryness and a lingering sticky resinous feeling from the lupulin powder.

Overall, this was a decent IPA. Hop Peak wasn’t anything special or out of the ordinary but, rather, an average West Coast IPA with loads of hops that showcase both the pine and citrus flavors.