Ode Brewery celebrates three years in El Paso

Daniel Mendez, Sports Editor

About four years ago, business partners Albert Salinas and Norbert Portillo developed a business plan to open up their own brewery in El Paso. That brainchild of theirs is called Ode Brewery and it just celebrated its third birthday on Saturday, Sept. 22.

“We thought it’d be an ode to the city and to beer making (and) food. So, it’s kind of our take on what food and beer should be,” Salinas said.

Ode is a brewery that pays homage to the city that raised its partners. They like to keep things local by brewing with local ingredients, such as barley, which is grown by a nearby farmer in Anthony, TX that you can find in their Belgian Wit.

All ingredients represent the culture you will find in the community. Just recently, Ode developed a beer with an unrefined brown sugar called piloncillo, which is an ingredient that you would typically find in a Hispanic community. Another one of Ode’s most popular beers is a stout that they made out of De La Rosa Mazapanthe beer sold out in two hours when it first became available.

“Almost everything that we do you think El Paso deserves the best. So, we use the best ingredients we possibly can and as local as we can find,” Salinas said.

Salinas tends to produce beers that he enjoys personally, but catering to the majority of craft beer drinkers in the city is also a goal of his. So, when they debuted the mazapan stout, the reaction left Salinas humbled.

“It was humbling, you know, you go to other cities, and they’ll release certain beers and there’ll be that response, I don’t think that responses ever happened in El Paso,” Salinas said.

Ode not only serves beer but they also serve food as well, with multiple vegetarian options available. From barbeque and chicken sandwiches to buffalo cauliflower wings and freedom pie, Ode offers food to a variety of people. Everything is cooked in-house from the main dishes to the pickles they use. Salinas says the approach they take with their food menu is what you would expect at home.

“Just trying to show El Paso, I wouldn’t feed you something I wouldn’t need myself,” Salinas said.  

When Ode first opened they were the first of its kind. El Paso was one of the few cities that didn’t have any microbrewery. Throughout the last several years the rise of microbreweries in El Paso has changed, you now have DeadBeach Brewery, Blazing Tree, and Sun Brewing. Together the breweries have helped shaped and changed the culture of craft beer in the city.

“I had a chance to open up somewhere else and I said no, I want to open up in El Paso. Even though it’s not the best place to open up when we opened it’s slowly changing. More and more people are more open to trying something other than you know a macro lager like Miller light,” Salinas said.

The former UTEP alum views craft beer as the “iTunes of the world,” saying people don’t want to buy a full album, they want certain songs, and the analogy is the same way with the different styles, bodies and textures that Ode has to offer.

“A lot of craft beer drinkers don’t want to buy a 30 pack of the same thing and be stuck with it,” Salinas said. “So, we mimic that with our beer styles just a little bit of everything so you cannot be so static about it and have fun with life a little.”