Oskar Blues Brewery
Here we have the brewery that taught me that “canned” is not synonymous with “crap,” giving excellent craft beer in a recycleable, backpackable container that is impervious to skunking from light pollution, and lighter to ship, reducing shipping costs and carbon footprint.
I confess I was not kind to Mama’s, tasting it *after* a Brewdog Hardcore IPA (of which more below). It’s tough for a pilsner to follow a big IPA, precisely why tastings normally go from light, in body or alcohol, to heavy. Anyway, if a pilsner can be earthy, this is the one. It’s more full and more rich than most pilsners, and yet it remains true to the style, malty with mild Saaz hops, with a dry finish from those hops. It may be a little cloudy, gold, with lacing more than an outright head. Mild nose, but then that earthy maltiness comes in with a touch of caramel and a nice effervescence. Very refreshing once it cut through that IPA! Sessionable, 5.3% ABV, 35 IBU.
This is their best seller dating back to their brewpub days in 2002. It pours with a creamy head and body, then on the palette it leads with earthy hops, and then malt and molasses come in. If they aged this in rum barrels it would take this to extraordinary. As is, it’s extraordinarily solid for six pack drinking. There is a long smooth hoppy finish, with more hops than many IPAs.
They call it “A Voluminously Hopped Mutha,” which begs the question, where is the line between Pale Ale and India Pale Ale? That line has certainly slid farther up the IBU scale, to 65 in this case. Bass Ale, an archetype pale ale before it was captured by InBev, is only 49 IBU. If someone doesn’t like hops, I have to warn them away from pale ales these days, unless it’s a Belgian (style) pale ale.
Be that as it may, months ago someone asked me what my “go to” beer is, implying “when you aren’t drinking craft beer.” I replied that I really don’t have one. If I were to choose a “go to” beer it would be a craft beer, and it would probably be Dale’s Pale Ale. 6.5% ABV.
Many beers are collaborations between one brewery and another, this one is a collaboration with a ski manufacturer. I heard that it was draft only and seasonal or a one off, but the picture from the brewery suggests that at least some of it made it into cans. Straw colored and quite clear, I found it citrusy with almost a unique nose, maybe Citra but reminding me of New Zealand hops. This seemed sessionable or close to it and worth the price of admission, piney as well as citrusy with solid malt backbone. Finish carries on with hops getting sweeter rather than more bitter. This was the star of the show because it was new to me (and very good!) Ok, Chubb and Ten Fidy are way up there. I hope this turns out to be a seasonal rather than a one-off! 7% ABV . . . so much for sessionable!!
This is a rich Scotch Ale, even smoother and creamier than the non nitro. Good big malty stuff. It’s nutty like peanut brittle with hints of whiskey, chocolate and smoke. The finish has dark caramel sweetness mellowed by gentle hops. 6.9% ABV
Engine oil for craft beer motorheads! OK, it’s a stout, but it pours as thick as motor oil then thunders onto the palette with massive malt, caramel, chocolate, and coffee. It has that lightly burnt roasted barley character with a richness like oatmeal . . . and somewhere on the finish I start to notice hops, tons of hops held in balance by the chocolate malt. 10.5% ABV, 98 IBU when I would have sworn it was half that. I went out immediately and found a 4-pack. This may be one of the best beers I ever had . . . though if I can get my hands on some more of the IceyPA . . .
Images courtesy of Oskar Blues Brewing
Now here’s a tip of the hat to the first beer I had this evening:
Brewdog Hardcore IPA
This Imperial IPA starts with a mild head and aroma, then arrives on the palette with mouth-filling malt and earthy hops which power into the finish. I get toffee/caramel with a sharp edge, hopped and then dry hopped. They mention Centennial, Columbus, and Citra hops, lots and lots of hops, claiming 150 IBU and 9.2% ABV. Do *not* taste this and then expect to do justice to a pilsner!!