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Reviewed: Odell Woodcut No. 9 Oak Aged Imperial IPA

Official description: To celebrate our 30th anniversary we’re bringing back our renowned Woodcut Series. For each release, freshly made barrels provide a blank canvas of oak flavor. Woodcut #9 is an Imperial IPA aged in medium-toast American oak barrels which imparts notes of vanilla, almond and dried fruit, while massive dry-hopping adds vibrant tropical fruit aromas, combining to create a beautifully complex ale. Cheers to 30 years!

Odell Woodcut Imperial IPAOdell Brewing Co. – Odell Woodcut No. 9 Oak Aged Imperial IPA – 12oz bottle served in Rastal Harmony glass – 10.7% ABV

Background

Odell has been busy updating its core portfolio and overall design language. I was seriously impressed with Wolf Picker Experimental IPA, Good Behavior Crushable IPA, Sippin’ Pretty Fruited Sour, and Mountain Standard IPA. The Cellar Series is reserved for their barrel-aged, special releases. Back in 2018, I reviewed their Onolicious Tropical Fruit Sour, which is the best sour ale I’ve had from Odell. I also tried Woodcut No. 8 back in 2015. This was a barleywine that tasted strangely like an Abbey Dubbel complete with high carbonation and a yeasty nose. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect with Woodcut No. 9, an oak-aged imperial IPA. Old IPA just doesn’t sound appetizing to me.

Review

I’m reviewing Woodcut No. 9 from a 12oz bottle with matte black foil on the cap. A nice pull tab lets you rip it off with ease. There’s a vintage date on the label, 2019 in my case, but no specific bottling date. Since these are high ABV, barrel-aged beers; freshness doesn’t seem to be a concern. Into my glass, No. 9 is deep, hazy amber in color with towering, beige-colored foam. Rising up well over the rim of the glass, this ice cream float of glossy foam sticks around for over four minutes. Wow!

No. 9’s aroma is super old-school IPA with sticky maple, brown sugar, and pine needles. Layered atop is powerful, toasted oak barrel. Digging in, the first word that comes to mind is barleywine. You’re rewarded with a brilliant mix of salted caramel, butter toffee, macadamia nut, and white chocolate flavors. Spicy, piney hops add excellent balance to what would otherwise be a lopsided, cloyingly sweet beer. Omnipresent barrel flavors of vanilla, toast, and damp earth help smooth it all out. The medium toast oak seems to add additional roasty and tannic bitterness. Not only is it highly enjoyable now, but No. 9 seems like a beer you could sit on for several years to bring out some extra subtleties through micro-oxidation.

Perceived Specs for Odell Woodcut No. 9 Oak Aged Imperial IPA

Perceived Specs for Odell Woodcut No. 9 Oak Aged Imperial IPA (Sweet 8, Bitter 7, Acid 0, Salt 1, Savory 2, Fat 7, Mineral 0)

Conclusion

Odell’s Woodcut No. 9 is a welcome surprise. Instead of being a sticky sweet, old IPA; No. 09 embraces the high gravity base beer and transforms it into a hoppy barleywine complete with gorgeous oak barrel flavors. It’s an unusual beer in today’s craft beer landscape – old-school to the core – but flawless in execution. Drink it now or put it away for several years; this one is a keeper.

Similar Beers

There are several extra hoppy barleywines/old ales out there that match up well with Odell’s Woodcut No. 9. Check out Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale, Stone Old Guardian, 3 Floyds Behemoth, Tröegs Flying Mouflan, Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws, and AleSmith Old Numbskull.

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