Zenith | Odious Cellars
Sours do not do well in Chicago. I’ve been fortunate enough to speak to many brewers on the subject and that’s been their consensus opinion. They sit on the shelves and don’t sell through fast enough or at all. Other markets like Florida and Missouri embrace the sour, but not Chicago. Because of this, there are few if any sour-focused breweries in the city. Odious Cellars is one and their sour beers are astonishingly good. Zenith continues this trend.
Zenith comes to you as a collaboration between Odious Cellar and Mirepoix Gangster Kitchens. Mirepoix brings fine dining to your home, featuring seasonal ingredients and personalized tasting menus. One such tasting menu option still available on their site pairs with the Zenith (and possibly other Odious Cellars beers; the description isn’t clear). (EDIT: Yes, there are four Odious Cellar beers in that tasting menu. Thanks Mirepoix!) Zenith began as a crimson-hued sour to which strawberries, cherry blossoms, and pink Himalayan salt were added. Joana Fraga does the art again and once again it’s eye-catching, featuring what looks like masked nomads following the stars. Excellent!
Any time Odious Cellars posts about a new sour on their social media feeds I get very excited. Unfortunately that has been a rare occurrence recently. After releasing their first two sours (Rubied Perspective and Symbol of Avarice) a little over a year ago (September 12, 2020), they released two more sours before the year was up in Fact or Fiction and Cryptomnesia. Odious’ next sour? This beer, Zenith, which just recently came out. I know sour beers take time and space to make but I’ve been jonesing for some new Odious Cellars sour content all year (even had a friend come in asking about Odious).
Zenith pours a glowing orange with a slight red tint. I can see my finger moving through the glass, but either some chill haze or the beer itself makes it seem murky. About two fingers of classic white head shows up while pouring it. However, like most barrel-aged beers, Zenith has a “blink and gone” head retention and within seconds all traces vanish. Overall a nice looking beer.
A quick whiff nets you exactly what you’d expect – strawberries. Well, you know they’re strawberries because the label says so, so I’ll go with a berry note. And the smell of a freshly picked berry at that. A hint of acidity from the sour permeates the nostril as well. You clearly won’t mistake this for a foudre or coolship beer as any funk, cheese, or musty notes are not present. A nice spice note comes through (most likely from the strawberries) and a hint of flowers rounds things off. If you remember those hard fruit candies with the wrapper that looked like the fruit (seems to be Arcor candies), it smells exactly like that.
It tastes the same too! Just like that Arcor candy. A slight glance of sourness or tartness hits after the strawberry does, but it never goes too far. No need to break out the Tums on this one as the sour’s there to let you know it’s a sour and not give you a headache. Odious Cellars excels at hitting that balance and I welcome that every time.
As with most sours, the high carbonation simply leaves behind a bit of tartness accompanied by a dash of tart strawberry. Some light floral qualities also persist as well, but might be because I see cherry blossoms on the label. Everything together makes Zenith and easy bottle to finish by yourself.
I’m all in on Odious Cellars sour releases. They’ve released three fruited ones and two more eclectic takes on the style and all have been worthy of multiple purchases. If you like sours, these are the ones to get from the Chicago area. No brewery remains as consistent in this department as Odious. If they could release more sour beers more timely and less sporadic I could give them even more of my money! Hopefully the Odious Cellars brewery will be opening soon so I can get my fix any time.
The biggest issue for most people would come down to price. I paid $18 for a 500 mL bottle of Zenith. That’s right about in line with a 4-pack of a hazy hoopy thing. Do you really need to have the same or slightly different combination of hops again? Shift that cash over to a sour and expand your horizons.