Odd Side Ales Bean Flicker Blonde Ale: A Coffee Oddity

If you regularly read my articles, then you probably know that one thing that really annoys me is when craft breweries put up these great websites, then do not include information about their history. Am I so wrong for wanting to know who founded the brewery, when, why, and under what circumstances? So from now on, when I find a brewery without this information, I will simply provide the meager wisps of information that they themselves provide. Here is the history that Odd Ales gives about themselves:

Welcome to Odd Side Ales, one of the fastest growing breweries in Michigan. Born in an old piano factory in downtown Grand Haven, Michigan, Odd Side Ales first opened its doors in March 2010. We’ve grown steadily since that first brew, but have never lost sight of our initial goal: to create a variety of complex beers, each with its own unique flavor. To that end, we strive to craft unusual beers that will make your taste buds dance. Whether you’re looking for the perfect IPA or something … just a little different, we’ve got the beer for you.

Odd Side Ales Bean Flicker Blonde (4.5% ABV) has an unconventional idea as its premise: brew a blonde ale with coffee beans. You see, when coffee is added to beer, it is almost always to dark beer, like a stout. That is because the natural, dark-roasted-grain flavors in a stout (and its cousins) tend to compliment coffee as part of the same flavor palate. So it is a surprise to have a blonde ale brewed with coffee beans. Odd Side describes the beer thus:

Looks can be deceiving! This satisfying simulation of self exploration is sure to surprise your pallet. It’s an extremely smooth sessionable coffee blonde. So light a candle and enjoy the adventure this beer has to offer.

In terms of a session beer, it usually refers to a beer with an alcohol content of less than 5.0%, and the beer is usually balanced and crisp and clean so as to allow consumption over a longer period of time without becoming too drunk. So, this is a low-alcohol blonde ale (brewed from very-lightly roasted, malted grains; top-fermented and warm-fermented) with coffee beans added somewhere in the process (the company gives us no clue as to the actual process). What is it like?

Everything On Tap Review: Odd Side Ales Bean Flicker Blonde:

Bottle: The bottle is of dark brown glass with a standard rectangular label. The label’s background is a mix of psychedelic colors, on top of which is the brown silhouette of a half-tree, half-lady. I am not sure of the meaning, but perhaps the psychedelia represents the unusual nature of mixing blonde ale with coffee beans, and the lady-tree is a coffee bush. The lettering is white.

Pour: The color is a light copper with a very thin (less than one finger) head that dissipates very quickly, leaving no lacing.

Aroma: The blonde ale qualities of the aroma palate are almost drowned out by the aroma of coffee beans. A very, very faint element of dairy and grains tickles the nose, but no more.

Flavor: The flavor is disappointing. I expected such an unusual combination of styles and flavors to show promise, but the flavor is really odd: it is like drinking coffee milk as my grandmother used to make it: mostly milk, with a little coffee and sugar. The blonde ale flavor is there, but it is buried so far below the coffee that it might as well not exist. This ale has received decent (but not great) ratings, but I must say that I personally am put off by it. It might have its place among flavored ales, but I have had much better. I believe that it was a mistake to try to pair coffee with blonde ale: coffee is just too dark and strong a flavor to pair with a delicate light ale.

Mouthfeel: The body manages to be both thin and watery, and creamy. The carbonation is medium, perhaps the one redeeming quality of this ale.

Structure: The structure of the ale itself is difficult to ascertain, as it is blinded by coffee. But underneath it all, I believe that the blonde is a reasonably-structured beer.

Food Pairing: This ale might suit dessert or breakfast, if you are inclined to drink in the morning.

Overall Rating Out Of 5 Possible Beer Mugs: