Wild Heaven Beer’s Ode To Mercy “Nitrode”
It seems I was wrong about all nitrogenated beer being pretty much the same. Wild Heaven Beer has opened my mind to the possibilities with its nitro version of their Ode To Mercy Coffee Brown Ale.
The normal version of Ode To Mercy used to be a flagship beer for Wild Heaven, so I wanted to find out why they would want to do a nitro version. “When we launched in 2010, my partner Eric Johnson, our brewmaster, said we should do a Brown Ale,” says president Nick Purdy. “I protested, thinking it was a ‘boring’ style. Eric’s reply: Exactly, and I’m going to make a not-boring one. He succeeded by incorporating Belgian aromatic malts, locally roasted and freshly ground coffee, West Coast hops (novel in 2010!) and the all-important lactose to round the whole thing out. … The nitro move was inspired in part by a new technology, allowing us to directly nitrogenate off-the-rack non-widget cans, and also having played around with nitro kegs for our tasting room and realizing our already very good beer could be made better.”
Ode To Mercy is one of those beers that has to be poured correctly. In fact, every beer should be, though this one specifically instructs drinkers to “Chill, open and pour vigorously down the middle of the glass” to rouse the nitrogen as the can is widgetless. Since it’s not a massive amount of nitro, compared to what you would get poured at a bar or from a widget, the beer ends up being a little cask-like. “We moved Ode To Mercy to nitro due to improvements not just in mouthfeel as you’ll always get with nitrogen, but particularly for how the coffee and creaminess from the lactose present themselves,” explains Purdy. “We’ve side-by-side tasted lots of folks of varying palates on regular CO2 versus nitrogenated Ode To Mercy (brewed from the same batch) and the nitro version always wins,” he adds. “We do still distribute CO2 kegs for accounts that want it. About half of draft is nitro, half CO2.”
I love how this is a perfect, no frills, big Brown Ale base with a coffee character that delivers a swift kick in the palate. The nitro works well—just enough to enhance the mouthfeel without tempering the toasted malt flavor or the bitterness and roastiness of the coffee. There is an underlying creaminess from the lactose that also helps trick this beer out. Think cold brewed coffee, which, incidentally, the hipsters usually like to serve on nitro, too. Now let’s talk about the drinkability: It’s through the roof, and that’s not always typical for a bigger beer. Sometimes it takes a beer like this to make your forget the usual trends. Exceptional drinking all around. All beer geeks should seek this one out.
Ode to Mercy “Nitrode”
Wild Heaven Beer | Decatur, GA
STYLE: American Brown Ale
AVAILABILITY: Year round (Georgia and eastern Tennessee)
Look: 4.25 | Smell: 3.75 | Taste: 4 | Feel: 4.5 | Overall: 4
Jason’s Score: 4.01/5 ■