12 April 2008

Beer Diary #4 - Jason has the blues

The week of March 30th, 2008 at home

It's nice having neighbors. Especially neighbors who leave gifts on your front porch. Gifts like beer. Good beer. Actually, great beer. No reason to be sad, but I've got the blues.

Specifically, beer from Oskar Blues Grill and Brewery in Lyons, Colorado. Judge Sandy, who was recently (as in earlier today) featured at HBG as a guest reviewer, left me four beers on one of her weekend trips back home with the requirement that I have to write a review. Oh, and the four beers are in cans. Yeah, they can their beer. Awesome.

Before I talk about these beers, I want to painfully point out that this is another "fly-over" beer brand that has somehow made its way through Indiana to other points without actually leaving any beer for us to try. Having tried Oskar Blues' four distributed beers, they have made their way to the "Top 5 beer brands not in Indiana" list, which only exists in my head right now, but will most certainly be a future posting.

I guess not having Oskar Blues available in Indiana is enough reason to sing the blues.

But enough pining about what we don't have. Let me talk about the four beers that I consumed last week that now makes me a better person than the rest of you!

Dale's Pale Ale is the flagship beer of Oskar Blues. As you can see, it pours a cloudy gold/amber with a thick, bubbly white head. It has a clean smell with a bit of citrus, maybe some other spices. In spite of the thick head, it is not overly carbonated and has a nice hop/malt balance to it. Some caramel flavors meet up with the Centennial hops to create an enjoyable summertime beer. It is a very substantial American Pale Ale. It reaches #2 on my blues charts.
Old Chub is a funny ass name for a serious Scottish ale. It truly smells like a Scotsman. Not that I ever smelled a Scotsman before. I'd imagine he'd smell like a Scotch whiskey, which often is strong and peaty. And I mean this is a very complimentary way.

It is a dark, cloudy beer with a dark tan head. It has a smokey flavor with several layers of malts. Coffee, toffee, maybe some not-so-sweet chocolate. It was very complex. Even though it is their "malty beer", it still has a bit of a spice bite. Just enough hops to keep it interesting.

Personally, I'd pick a Dirty Bastard, a Robert the Bruce, or a handful of Scottish Ales from Scotland (of all places!). I find these beers to have a more straight forward, honest Scottish Ale flavor profile compared to the Old Chub. But if you stumble across this somewhere, pick it up. It's complexity in flavor may put it over the top in your books. Me, it ranks #3 on the blues chart.
Pardon my profanity as I say this: Holy. Fucking. Shit.

The Oskar Blues website describes Gordon as this: "...a hybrid version of strong ale, somewhere between an Imperial Red and a Double IPA. We make it with six different malts and three types of hops, then dry-hop it with a mutha lode of Amarillo hops."

It pours out looking like an Imperial Red. It tastes like a DIPA along the lines of a Dogfish Head 90. In both aroma and flavor, it has a mix of hops and malt. In comparison to DFH90, I'd say the mix in Gordon is slightly hoppier. Or less maltier. Or both. Whatever. It doesn't carry quite the amount of sweetness that you find with 2008 Hopslam though.

Judge Sandy agrees with my sentiment. About Gordon, she wrote "I think it is better than DFH 90 minute as it is less cloying on the body. 90 min just has too much residual sweetness for me."

It is number 1 on the blues chart and is now in the most desirable/most have it category. More desirable that Racer 5. One of my top five favorites at the moment. A 5 mugger in my book. And if I get a hold of a four pack (please Judge Sandy!), I'm going to attempt to split it with my fellow knights. If I don't drink them all first.
The TenFidy Russian Imperial Stout is my least favorite of the four Oskar Blues beers. Which based on the quality of the ones listed above isn't necessarily a bad thing. It is listed as having a 98 IBU rating, which I had a hard time finding under all the malts. Until this past winter, it was purely a seasonal beer. As a year round regular, it will certainly pass up Old Chub as the preferred beer of malt fans. It pours out like a black hole, sucking in light that approaches it. It has a dark, thick head. And it is chewy. And dangerous. 10% ABV. Look out.

Russian Imperial Stouts are not my favorite style, so I am probably not the best judge of TenFidy. But there are definitely better Russian Imperial Stouts out there. Like the Old Chub, I find the layering of flavors to be a bit overwhelming and would prefer a more straight forward version of this style.

Overall, though, Oskar Blues appears to be a quality and creative brewery. Should I get my hand on any or all of these varieties again, I'll hopefully have the will power to share these at a roundtable instead of hoarding them for myself.


  1. Love the Oskar Blues. I have one Gordon left in the fridge. All 4 are solid offerings. Gordon rocks. I cannot believe you like the ten-fidy least. I am not a Imperial Stout drinker either but holy shit, Ten-Fidy floored us at the GBS. Almost rivals Beer Geek Breakfast as my favorite stout I have ever had. It might be that I am an espresso whore and love the coffee, almost chocolate taste. I have 3 weeks off and would really like to attend an event of yours. You are in my google reader so I get your feed promptly. Hope to see you Hoosier Beer Geeks while I am off.


  2. I loved the Ten-Fidy, and it personally one of my very favorite beers.

    I can't wait to try some of the Gordon in cans.

  3. I've been so into hops and bitters that stouts having been giving me the stiffy they used to. Not to say I didn't enjoy it, just not as much as the others.

    JeffreyT, we'll talk and see what we can line up. Would love to get drunk with ya again.

    Matt, seriously, that Gordon is a mean beer. I'm anticipating a four pack in the near future. Fingers crossed.

  4. This post makes me sad that we aren't going to Great American Beer Festival this year. I love the Oskar Blues beers and old chub lip balm. :(

  5. Old Chub Lip Balm just sounds dirty...

  6. Haven't been lucky enough yet to try anything from Oskar Blues. That Gordon sounds awesome! Definitely going to have to seek it out. Any idea how far afield one would have to travel to get some?

  7. Looky what I found...

    Here is a list of states in which we sell our beer.

    * Colorado (home state)
    * Arizona
    * Connecticut
    * Florida
    * Georgia
    * Idaho
    * Maryland / Washington D.C.
    * Massachusetts
    * New Jersey
    * New Mexico
    * North Carolina
    * New York
    * Pennsylvania
    * Rhode Island
    * Virginia
    * Washington
    * Wisconsin

    So it looks like Wisconsin would be your easiest bet...

  8. Oskar Blues just added Texas and California to their distribution list. Ten Fidy is one of my favorites as I am a big lover of the dark brew.

    Perhaps we can work out a trade. Some Bell's beer for some Oskar Blues beer.

  9. Chipper Dave - I don't think any of us have done any beer trading in the past, but a Bells for Oskar Blues trade might finally be the enticement I needed.

    Let me talk to our beer trading insider (Matt from Matt's Beer Blog) and learn the ins and outs (if there are any) and get back to you.

  10. as to your comment on the ibu rating of that ten fidy, the whole bitterness/gravity ratio is more reflective of the overall presentation than the ibu rating alone. an imperial stout could be 100 ibus, which sounds insane, but with a finisheing gravity of 1.03 you wouldn't even notice. the hops are just there to balance that residual sweetness. now, if you had an ipa that finished at 1.014 and it had 100 ibu's, then you're talking throat searing, enamel dissolving hop insanity.

  11. I've never shipped beer myself and heard the the US post office won't ship liquids but UPS and FedEx may ship it if you tell them you're shipping "yeast samples" and don't put too much liquid in one box. Seeing how Oskar Blues beers are all in cans, it would be less risk for breakage. I'll have to see what kind of containers (styrofoam most likely) would be good for shipping this. Also, probably would be best to ship before the heat of summer kicks in so we don't risk spoiling the beer.