I've decided to start a new series on interesting beers I come across, inspired by my recent membership in the craft beer club of College Square Liquors, my Friendly Local Beer Store. Every week I get an email with a list of new beers they have in stock, and I happily head over to the store and buy a couple to try.
A few weeks ago, that list contained Allagash Brewing Company's Odyssey. I've known about Allagash since I visited Portland (Maine) a few years ago - they're an excellent brewery, so this was worth checking out. Some research told me that Odyssey represents one of my favorite beer styles - the dark wheat beer. It's sort of a hybrid dark wheat/Belgian to be more accurate, but I let that slide. Dark wheat beers (or dunkelweizen in German) combine two styles I love into a wondrous whole. I had one with my cousin in Toronto a few years ago - sadly, I can't remember if it was Erdinger or Paulaner, but it remains the best beer I've ever had.
So I had to try the Odyssey. It comes in a 750 mL bottle with a champagne-style cork top, which I've come to love. No special equipment needed - just wrist strength and care. It's ultimately much closer to a wheat than a Belgian - no syrupy, fruity, or boozy flavors that I normally associate with Belgian ales. Actually, it's remarkably clean and subtle considering the ABV is just over 10%. Instead, it's much closer to what I was hoping for - a dunkelweiss. It's slightly bitter, more dry than sweet, with the crispness I associate with wheat beer. It's also slightly oaked - not to the point of an Oaked Arrogant Bastard, but it's noticeable and blends very well with the other flavors.
This beer isn't cheap - I paid $15 for the bottle, more than I usually pay for beer. But it's worth every penny, and I'm buying another bottle this weekend if it's still in stock.