Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oskar Blues - Deviant Dale's IPA Review

16 oz. tallboy in a 32 oz. antique store goblet. Awww yeah.

Brewery: Oskar Blues (CO)
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8%
Grade: A-

It finally hit me how much I love craft beer in cans when I took a few tallboys of Deviant Dale's hiking with friends in the Catskills. We weren't out to get hammered at the top of a mountain, of course, and if I ever see anyone litter a can of anything in the woods, I will honest-to-god throw them off the nearest available peak. But there's hardly anything as satisfying as sharing a good beer after climbing over rocks and ice for three hours — even better when it's as aggressive and flavorful a beer as Deviant Dale's. Piney hops for a mountain top? Perfect.

Naturally, I saved a can for drinking and reviewing at home, and it's even better out of a glass. Deviant Dale's doesn't mess around trying to find some perfect synthesis of hop flavors: this is all piney, dank hops. (I'm guessing lots of Columbus, Chinook and Simcoe.) So piney, so dank, it might have been designed for drinking in the woods. There's a harsh drying bitterness that accompanies those flavors; a sort of dirty taste that fits, but verges on being a bit too abrasive, that sits on your tongue maybe a bit too hard. Once you get through all that — and once the beer warms and opens up — there are hints of sweet fruit.

Malts are here in force, but this is a great example of when an imperial IPA actually needs a thicker malt base to back it up, and how to supply that balanced base without turning the beer into a rich, sweet, caramely disaster. The only thing holding this back from being an amazing imperial IPA (of a certain type) is a lack of smoothness once the harsh, dirty flavors really settle into the back of your throat. And that's barely a complaint, because sometimes you need a beer that's rough around the edges, that embodies the act of drinking outside from a tallboy can. If the thought of drinking something that tastes like it fell out of a pine tree on a snow-covered cliff gets you off, you'll do very well here.

Availability: "Rotating," so. Who knows? This just came out and I've only seen it in a few stores, so I'm a little too early to give a fair assessment, I think. 16 ounce tallboy cans.

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