As there is already plenty of information on this site about the Allagash Brewery in Portland, ME, I don’t think any further detail is necessary. Just to refresh the memories of our devoted folower(s) though, this tasting is in response to the heated debate between myself and Brother Barley over the merits of the Men from Maine. I for one never found them all that appealing, Senor McHops however wanted to make their little corner of Portland a suburb of Bruxelles. Let’s just say my friend thinks Allagash puts out some pretty good Belgian style ales. I first re-tasted one from their regular lineup, the Double, which I quite enjoyed. If people are talking up the virtues of Allagash though, I’m sure it’s not the Double and the often-exalted White they’re referring too. I give you, the oak-aged Odyssey.
Odyssey is described on the brewer’s website as a “Dark, 10% ABV Wheat Beer”, so I’ll throw it in the Belgian Strong Ale category. Call it a Belgian Style Dark Ale and I think you’re fine too (One, because it describes the beer. Two, because I don’t really care). They age some of the beer in toasted American oak and some of it in stainless steel, and I’m sure a few years in the bottle would do this brew wonders. Regardless, this tasting is from a “Fresh” bottle from their most recent vintage.
Poured from a 750ml corker, Odyssey shows a deep amber color with a massive head that never dissipates until the finish (Actually, there’s still plenty left at the bottom of the glass when you’re done). On the nose there’s plenty of Belgian candy sugar, molasses, and just plain old fashioned sweet notes. I get the same sour smell, albeit a very good sour, from every Allagash beer I open. I don’t know if it’s the particular yeast strains they use or something else but I really like it. Mouthfeel is a little syrupy up front but has a nice dry finish to it. This is where I think a year of mellowing in the bottle would push the beer to another level (Level 11, if you will). For a 10% ale, you really don’t notice much in terms of heat on the tongue. It’s almost dangerously smooth with just enough of a bite to balance out the heavy use of fermentables. I wouldn’t call it akin to a good German Dunkelweizen, but it has many of the same flavor profiles. Sweet, nutty, dry – Many contrasting flavors that complement each other almost perfectly throughout. Superb.
Once again, my perceptions on Allagash have changed for the better. This is a gorgeous brew and one that any lover of traditional Belgian and even German beers should try. Maybe when I taste the other bottle I bought in a year I’ll move it up to the highest rating, but right now I’ll stick it in for 3.5 hops (I’d say 3.9, but I think half-hop ratings are plenty). The only knock on this beer is that it needs time, which is absolutely no fault of the brewer. If you can find it, this is a must try.