The characteristics of beer and wine have been mixed for many a year to create unique and tasty beverages.
I've had beers that taste like fruity Asti Spumante (Lindeman's). Imperial stouts with the flavors of port and sherry. Samuel Smith Taddy Porter has a red wine-like sharpness to its finish. Then there are the numerous beers aged in various wine casks.
None of the beers I've had with wine qualities, however, ever tasted like grapes - just the wines made from it. Odell has taken the step of adding the juice of tempranillo grapes to its Amuste, which is an imperial porter aged in oak wine barrels.
Raspberries and cherries are usually the go-to fruits for beer and do well in both light- and dark-colored beers. Apples and peaches are more commonly found in lighter-colored beers. Grape, though, is one fruit that seems to clash with beer and that is the impression I got from Amuste.
The 9.3 percent ABV beer base is fine, with flavors of quality dark chocolate and roasted coffee, and the latter providing a nice bitterness. Vanilla and oak from the barrel aging are noticeable, as is caramel malt. The mouthfeel is solid, the carbonation somewhat sharp and the tan head lasts for a long time and leaves nice lacing on the glass. It's slightly sweet with a dry finish.
Simply put, the strong grape flavor seems out of harmony with all this. It's worth taking a look at the chocolate candy industry as a comparison - you can find chocolates containing cherries, raspberries and blueberries, but not grapes (well, it wouldn't surprise me if someone does it, but I've never come across the combination and raisins are a different matter). After centuries of chocolate candy production, there must be a reason for this.
Odell beers are available in 10 states - Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming. Its beer finder is at odellbrewing.com/beer-finder. Amuste is a limited edition, so it will probably go quickly.