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Waiter, waiter, there’s breakfast in my beer.

I will admit to having a certain fondness for the humble cinnamon roll.

Actually, I am lying. Fondness is a completely inadequate term. Infatuation? Compulsion? Guilty as charged.

When I visit a breakfast establishment for the first time and learn that they bake world-famous cinnamon rolls—they’re always “world-famous,” aren’t they?—then the timeless sweet-versus-savory debate that has tormented my morrow soul every day since becoming sentient comes to an abrupt halt. If cinnamon rolls are on the menu, then rest assured that at least one of them is going into my mouth.

Which is why I was simultaneously ecstatic and apprehensive when I learned that Odell Brewing Company had once again partnered with the Silver Grill to create CinnsationAle, a beer brewed with the Grill’s own particular claim to fame.


Now, if any delicacies are more deserving of claims to worldwide fame than Odell beer and Silver Grill cinnamon rolls, then I have been seriously misled in my life and demand an immediate refund. So it seemed reasonable that, their powers combined, this alliance could be unstoppable. Yet, I acknowledge some lingering hesitation. Cinnamon rolls? In beer?

As a homebrewer, I constantly fight a powerful inner voice, the devil in a work shirt, who calls out to me and says, “I bet that would be better fermented.” And while I enjoy many a spiced beer, I must admit that cinnamon isn’t usually my favorite ingredient. I’ll suck down orange peel, coriander, or cloves all night long, but there’s an astringency to cinnamon that works beautifully in the sugary goo that partitions adjacent layers of baked dough, but can be overpowering in beer if wielded with abandon.

Odell and the Grill had pulled this stunt last year. And for one unforgivable reason or another, I hadn’t visited either during the brief period during which the 2012 vintage had been available. But an anonymous source had assured me that 2013 would be a very good year.

This year things would be different. I was up for the cinnamon challenge.

So it was that I headed over to the Odell Brewing Company’s tap room last Thursday afternoon. As is so often the case with these sorts of things, the line snaked out the door and ended conveniently, if not comfortably, near the restrooms. But I waited my turn and was soon rewarded, not only with a generous pour of CinnsationAle, but also a little paper boat of Silver Grill happiness.

Good Lord

As I indicated when I checked in with Untappd, CinnsationAle is surprisingly well-balanced. The sample I enjoyed in the Odell tap room suggested only a hint of cinnamon in the aftertaste. Were I not aware of it beforehand, I might not have identified its presence. And when said beer chased noshes of cinnamon roll, CinnsationAle’s gentle hop bitterness offered a nice contrast on the palate.

A tap room employee, whose name I have regrettably forgotten because I failed to write it down, told me that CinnsationAle was brewed with both cinnamon rolls and a homemade cinnamon and caramel syrup. The latter reminds me of the “Guinness essence” that Dublin’s St. James’s Gate brewery ships to satellite facilities around the world, and I immediately conjured up images of tanker trucks making runs up and down Lincoln Avenue. Or possibly an intricate underground pipeline.

I was pleased. But I needed another data point.

On Saturday morning, I made my way to the Silver Grill with my wife and parents, who were visiting from Texas. That is, my parents were visiting from Texas, not my wife. My wife has to live with me on a daily basis, and she deserves an award therefor.

A good sign

Having already become delightfully jacked up on coffee at home, it was time to let the wild rumpus start with an A.M. CinnsationAle. And while I prefer to leave the food porn to Feasting Fort Collins, it would be shameful not to mention that I enjoyed mine with a hominy scrambler and cinnamon roll toast. That the cinnamon roll has now become an ingredient in derived foodstuffs is evidence that civilization has reached its pinnacle and things will only go downhill from here.

Breakfast of champions

Surprisingly, I detected a much stronger cinnamon flavor in the example on draft at the Grill. Maybe it was the temperature. Maybe a subtle difference in draft systems. Maybe it was the eight or so cups of coffee I’d had, or my Cholula-flecked hash browns, but it was there. And I really liked it. None of that cinnamon astringency, just a really nice beer that works exceedingly well with breakfast. A flavorful, malty, strong-ish winter warmer of sorts.

Odell kicked all of its kegs of CinnsationAle soon after opening on Saturday. At the time of this publication, it was still available at the Silver Grill, but this is a rapidly evolving situation. If you’re reading this at work, which I hope you are, you should probably just check out early and head on over to the Grill. That client meeting can wait, but this special release won’t. And when it’s gone, it’s gone. At least until next year.

In fact, I’m going to put it on my 2014 calendar right now.

Verdict: Despite the unusual premise, this beer can easily stand on its own. I don’t know that I would want more than one or two at a time, but sitting next to the Odell fire pit on a chilly November evening, I can’t think of much better. Goes well with both sweet and savory. The former will accentuate the beer’s subtle hop bitterness, while the latter highlights the spicy, malty notes.


P.S. While writing, I couldn’t stop thinking about this SNL classic.