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YOUR CELLAR: Woodcut edition

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The highly anticipated sixth release in the Odell Woodcut series (out in October) got us thinking: How are the first five holding up in our beer cellar? We popped open every bottle—and sipped the delightfully mature stuff inside.

NO. 1 | Oak-aged ale | Fall 2008

In a few words: Sweet pecan pie. The mature, cohesive aroma blends brown sugar, vanilla, pecan and subtle wafts of dark cherry and raisin. The years have been good to this vintage, fusing the beer’s rich nuttiness with toasted barrel notes and smooth vanilla. A dose of brown sugar accentuates syrupy sweetness before a surprising amount of tannins break down the finish to a lingering nuttiness. Ready? Open now.

NO. 2 | Oak-aged golden ale | Spring 2009

No. 2’s aroma is quiet, but breathe deeply and beautiful tangerine, vanilla and toasted oak emerge; a hint of alcohol spice peppers the bouquet. Like No. 1, this beer’s packed with vanilla and pecan; it’s also sweeter and thicker on the tongue with dark fruit and toasted oak flavors. Soothing alcohol warmth tingles the tongue through the swallow. Ready? Open now; or wait six months to a year to further mute the alcohol.

NO. 3 | Oak-aged crimson ale | Fall 2009

Hands-down the favorite of our tasters, No. 3 is developing spectacularly. A warming bouquet fills the nose with refined toffee and leather, accented by hints of chestnut—just sublime. Barrel tannins are the driving force here, covering the tongue with a drying woodiness that plays perfectly against robust caramel and a deep nuttiness. Hop bitterness is still present, merging with the tannins for a dry, almost salty finish. Ready? Incredible now, but will evolve with a deep fruity sweetness over the next two years.

NO. 4 | Oak-aged lager | Spring 2010

The first lager of the group, this double Märzen (aged on virgin American oak) tastes and smells just like a caramel apple. Black pepper and cedar accent a wallop of red apple and toffee scents. Similar notes flow through this ultra-creamy beer, with the fruit building into the finish. Oaky flavors surround the sweet apple as the tongue slowly dries out. Ready? It’s worth opening just to try, but No. 4 really deserves two to three more years in the cellar for its fruitiness to fully develop.

NO. 5 | Oak-aged ale | Spring 2011

No. 5 suffered a well-documented lack of carbonation, so it’s no surprise the situation hasn’t improved after more than a year in the cellar. This Belgian-style quadruple had promise: There’s still a wealth of dark fruits, as well as sweet-and-toasted malts in the beer, but without carbonation, it’s lifeless. Carbonation problems happen from time to time with barrel-aged beers, and the disappointment that followed this vintage’s release has only increased the anticipation for No. 6. Ready? Unknown. Let it ride in the cellar and see what happens.

NO. 6 | Oak-aged ale | Fall 2012

We scored the skinny on No. 6 and a sample straight from the barrel from Odell pilot system manager Brent Cordle. This Woodcut is the first to focus primarily on hops—specifically, two new varieties: Mosaic, and a second still-unnamed variety. Our sneak peek was young and still needed to be dry-hopped, but it teems with tropical hops: Papaya and passionfruit fill the bouquet, and blend with strong oak notes on the tongue. It could be the finest Woodcut release yet. Ready? Cordle says No. 6’s “tropical flavors will age pretty well,” so cellar this 10%-ABV version according to previous releases.

Read our beer editor’s take on the entire lineup here.

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