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Taking flavor and fermentation SuperNova

Leading the R&D effort at Odell’s Sloan’s Lake Brewhouse is Marni Wahlquist. Enthusiastic and curious, her passion for life and beer is evident. Her official title: sensory artist. Her background: food fermentation. “I had a food fermentation business and was looking for a part time job to supplement my income,” recalls Wahlquist. “I was hired in packaging full time. I decided to shutter my business and go down the path of craft beer. My background in fermentation led me to the cellar and brewhouse.”

Odell’s Sloan’s Lake Brewhouse boasts made-from-scratch pizza and sixteen tap handles, including the experimental brews that Wahlquist dreams up. “I brew small ten barrel batches, so I have much more flexibility than brewing beer for package. I enjoy the myriad of ways to be creative in a brew. It can be with the grist bill, the temperatures, hop formulations and combinations, yeast, fruit additions, herbs, etc.”

Sloan’s Lake strives to offer a diverse menu for “all to enjoy” — focusing the beer menu on drinkability and balance — and staying true to the Odell ethos of “building community through beer.”

So how does this R&D brewer stay creative? Ever curious, Wahlquist draws inspiration from the “mystery and magic in brewing. I have found that brewing beer continuously teaches me through observation and process. This alone feeds my passion.”

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"Audacia is truly audacious with its unique aroma of floral and berries. On the rub, lavender dark berries and currant stand out. The aroma in the beer had notes of jasmine, dark berries and currant. The flavor is jammy, and she plays very well with others."


Another form of inspiration for Wahlquist: “collaboration: sharing space, hops, ideas and beers.” For her, collaboration is the heart and soul of the craft beer movement, and the process also informs her brewing.

We (Indie) recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Odell and Lallemand on a brew that featured our hops and Lallemand’s innovative hybrid yeast for the 2024 CBC in Vegas. Wahlquist brewed up some magic… a crowd favorite, the keg only lasted a few hours on the show floor! We asked her to provide some insight on the beer, ingredients and process.

Q. For this year’s CBC, Odell and Indie partnered up on a collab brew called SuperNova Cold XPA. Can you tell us about the beer?

A. SuperNova was a light bodied Lager style pale, that was brewed with Audacia, Meridian and Strata. We had a three way collaboration with Lallemand and fermented with their NovaLager yeast for this beer. The beer was crisp, fruit forward with a touch of dank.

Q. You brewed an initial batch and used only Strata and Audacia. For the second batch that was served at CBC, you decided to add Meridian to the hop bill. Can you talk a bit about this hop. Why you decided to add it, and how did it change the beer profile?

A. Meridian is a beautiful hop, and I am very fond of it. The aroma is soft, delicate and unique. Our first iteration with Strata and Audacia was delicious and well received but it really was missing something and I didn’t realize this until SuperNova. It rounded out the beer and added a depth and complexity that synergized the aroma and flavor.

Q. Audacia is a new hop from us, so most brewers have yet to brew with it or taste it in beer. Can you talk a bit about the hop (flavor and aroma profile)? Is there anything that stands out?

A. Audacia is truly audacious with its unique aroma of floral and berries. On the rub, lavender dark berries and currant stand out. The aroma in the beer had notes of jasmine, dark berries and currant. The flavor is jammy, and she plays very well with others.

Q. Audacia is a lower alpha hop coming in at 6%, and for this beer it was used in a 6.5% XPA. How did it do when it was paired with a heavy-hitting hop like Strata?

A. The two harmonized very well together creating a kaleidoscope of flavors across the palate.

Q. Strata is a hop most brewers are familiar with, but we’d love to hear your perspective on this hop — as it’s still a relative newcomer and this year will be the sixth commercial crop. What does Strata bring to the table? How do you like to utilize this hop? Is there anything that you’ve learned about this hop from brewing with it for several years now?

A. Strata is an incredible hop that can stand alone in a beer and be complex and delicious. It has a deep aroma and flavor profile that covers the full spectrum across citrus, tropical, berry and dank. I like to utilize Strata both hot side and cold side. Strata brings serious fruit juiciness that keeps me coming back for more.

Q. Odell has always been an early adopter of Indie varieties. When brewing with a new hop from us, what have you learned?

A. The hop can be delicious in a beer but it can be even better paired up with another hop. Not every hop is like Strata. We need back up hops (like back up singers) to create a lattice of flavor.

Q. The craft landscape has changed dramatically in the past five to ten years, with so many new hop varieties and hop products now available to brewers. In general, how do you approach all of the new varieties and hop products that are available?

A. With an open mind but I have to say that I like to connect with actual hops the most.