Lugene Chocolate Stout turns Odell Brewing into Willy Wonka's factory

Categories: Beer Man

Chocolate is sweet and sultry and delicious. Chocolate tastes great, smells great and looks fantastic. Chocolate is supposed to be fun. But Bill Beymer of Odell Brewing wasn't having much fun in late 2012, when he was trying to figure out how to melt hundreds of pounds of chocolate into the brewery's then-latest creation, Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout.

"We had to hang a colander down into the brew kettle from a chain," he says. "I made it myself from a stainless steel pot. Then we put thirty pounds pounds of chocolate into the colander at a time and lowered it down into the kettle."

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But that was more than a year ago, when Odell was using using its old fifty-barrel brewing system. Since then, the Fort Collins company has undergone a multimillion-dollar expansion that included a new taproom, new storage tanks and a two-story, 120-barrel brewhouse.

Odell made its first batch of this year's Lugene -- a seasonal beer that will be available in six-packs from late January into April -- last week. And the process was much easier.

With the new system, Beymer and his fellow brewers can add 250 pounds of chocolate to a 100-barrel batch of Lugene within twenty minutes, and then accurately control the temperature of the kettle so that the chocolate melts at the right time.

The wort (which is beer before it has been fermented with yeast) "came out very chocolatey, creamy, just unbelievable," Beymer says.

"It was amazing. It smelled like a chocolate factory in here," he adds. "I had images of Willy Wonka in my mind. We don't have any oompa loompas, though. Maybe we will try to get some for the release party." That's set for Saturday, January 25 and Sunday, January 26 in the taproom.

Over the next few months, Odell will use more than 2,000 pounds of chocolate -- one third of it dark chocolate and rest milk chocolate -- to make Lugene.

Another challenge for Beymer was figuring out how to scale up Odell's recipes from the old fifty-barrel brewhouse to the new one -- and it's not just a matter of multiplication. "Because the new brewhouse is so much more efficient and we get more extraction out of the grains and the hops, we had to adjust," he says. "There was also some luck involved, but we were able to nail it within the first couple of brews and replicate exactly what we were making in the old brewhouse, but in larger quantities and much faster."

Of course, he points out, after Lugene is brewed, the kettles have to be cleaned extra well to get all the chocolate out. And no one gets to lick the spoon.

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Adam Aedro Drotar
Adam Aedro Drotar

Sounds great but is it better than southern tier? Doubtfully. But I will try it nonetheless

Jason Joyce
Jason Joyce

That seems like it would make me way too full.

Ryan Williams
Ryan Williams

You ever had Samuel smith organic chocolate stout?

Diana Chadwick
Diana Chadwick

Ryan obviously you haven't tasted Lugene... this is new and the best chocolate stout I've ever tasted.

Brent Thiesen
Brent Thiesen

This isn't a new seasonal, lugene has been around for awhile

Kirb Tron
Kirb Tron

Its nothing new but it is a very, very good beer. There were also supply issues when this was released last year that made the beer somewhat hard to come by, which could explain the coverage. Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it.

Ryan Williams
Ryan Williams

So is the moo-hoo from terrapin, and Choklat from Southern Tier and tons of other chocolate beers. This is nothing new Westword


I can't imagine how difficult it is for a large craft brewery like Odell or Sierra Nevada or the like to make such insanely huge batches of beer at a time and how tough it must be to replicate them each and every time. As a homebrewer I have nothing but respect for that process - I can't get my 10 gallon batches to taste the same.

On that note, as much as I hate their product, I've got nothing but respect for Bud and Coors for being able to make their (garbage) product taste the same batch after huge batch as well.

Mantonat topcommenter

So what's your point? The story is just talking about Odell's process for making their beer and announcing the release date/party of this year's batch. Nobody claimed it was something new.

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