Ryan and Kristin Scott are canning sour beers at their distinctive Boulder County brewery, a Colorado first, and using fictional super-powered heroes and villains as pitchmen.
Like Clark Kent, Ryan Scott has something of a dual identity.
By day, he's a software engineer at Rally Software in Boulder, but by nights, weekends and every other spare minute, he's proprietor of Odd13 Brewing with his wife, Kristin.
But unlike Superman, Ryan doesn't have to keep his alter ego secret. "Rally's extremely supportive of me having something else going on," he says.
The Scotts launched Odd13 in 2013 with a combination taproom/production facility and started canning in October 2014 after a short stint bottling their beers.
Ryan says Odd13 is the first Colorado brewery to put a sour beer in a can, with a new limited release every two months, starting with Bluecifer -- an oak-aged sour stout with cranberries, its downtown-destroying doppelganger inspired by the infernal steed guarding DIA -- in December 2014 and <3 Machine in February 2015; Super Sneak is next.
Every beer has a corresponding superhero or supervillain. A member of the heroic Odd Squad, Eric the Red is a red IPA whose hero incarnation is a Thor-style super-viking. There's also the villainous Legion of Odd: evil wizard Zed the Zorcerer is a session IPA, and seasonal Sidekicks and other beers with branding more akin to Batman than Budweiser.
The comic cook bent comes from Ryan's longtime love of all things Marvel. "I read comic books quite a bit as a kid and have friends who are fantastic artists."
The strategy helps Odd13 stand out and grow. "It's that first impression," says Ryan. "It's a pretty crowded market. There are a lot of beers out there." Production hit 700 barrels for the brewery's first full year of operation, and Ryan projects brewing more than 1,000 in 2015.
As of fall 2014, a new canning line from Wild Goose Canning in Boulder upped the hourly packaging output from seven cases of bottles to 45 cases of cans. "It's been fantastic," says Ryan of the line.
Odd13 currently offers 16-ounce cans of Eric the Red along with Master of Unrelated Science, a hoppy saison, and Papa Silenus, a double IPA. Next up, Odd13 is going to put a year-round, yet-to-be-named sour in a can, which will represent another first among Colorado's craft brewers.
The price tag of Odd13's sour beers is relatively cost-competitive, as sours are notoriously pricey: A four-pack of 12-ounce cans runs about $13 or $14 at retail, a steal considering one 12-ounce bottle of a barrel-aged sour from other breweries often runs $10 or more.
The trick is kettle souring, says Ryan. "We're producing a reasonably complex sour beer a little bit more quickly than barrel-aging," he explains. Odd13's mash is inoculated with a "house blend" of lactobacillus and the requisite brettanomyces are used during fermentation. "It's significantly faster and you get a more predictable result than barrel aging."
Kristin was a corporate executive with a MBA, but turned stay-at-home mom for a few years after the Scotts moved to Colorado in 2009. After their youngest started school, she wanted to get back to work and dreamed up the idea of a brewery. Ryan passes the buck for Odd13's success. "Basically, it was her idea," he says.
Favorite beers: "I'm loving our latest seasonal sour release, Super Sneak. It's sour, hoppy, funky, and super tropical," says Ryan. Beyond Odd13, "I'm a huge fan of Stillwater Artisan Ales and I've been drinking a lot of their Debutante Biere de Garde recently."
Challenges: Space, or lack thereof, says Ryan. "That's the biggest challenge we have right now," he says. Odd13's taproom and production facility will be "maxed” in 2015, so the company is eying an expansion at its warehouse that's across town from the taproom in Lafayette. "It's big enough we could conceivably put in a 30-barrel brewhouse," Ryan says. "We're at 10 barrels now."
Opportunities: Increasing distribution of cans. Odd13's footprint currently covers most of the Front Range, but the focus has been on retailers with "a strong craft beer focus," says Ryan. "we want to be where people are going for good beer."
Needs: Financing for expansion. "We're talking to a banker now," says Ryan.