I have a lot of respect for Oskar Blues, but very little opportunity to drink them in my small, midwestern market. Yes, I know they’re only 2 states away, but apparently that is all it takes. Needless to say, when I get the chance to finally down these twelve ounces of nectar it’s a pretty good day. Looks like today is going to be one of those “pretty good days.” Let’s pour!
Aroma 11/12: Wow. There is lots of bitter cocoa, caramel malt, and tons of their friends along for the ride. The roasted notes in the malt are not lost despite their strong flavors. A spiciness is present, as is a light alcohol warmth, and an almost smoky/sour note as if some rye or peat had been involved. Dark fruits are faint, but still present.
Appearance 2/3: A small head that did not bother to stick around were the two worst attributes of the entire beer. In its defense, it pours a very handsome espresso black with ruby highlights at the edges.
Flavor 19/20: This is a massing of wonderfully blended flavors. Despite an initially pale flavor, almost that of heavy cream, it glides beautifully into its backbone of cocoa nibs, dark fruit (dates/prunes), lesser molasses tones, a little of the smoke from the aroma (that increases dramatically as the beer warms), and a wonderful encompassing backdrop of alcohol warmth that never comes close to overcoming this blend of tastes. The finish is still heavy with dark fruit, but shows a spicy pepper note in addition to the rye tang, and more alcohol than in the main structure of the beer. The aftertaste is a little bitter, barely smokey, and surprisingly clean considering the dark, sweet flavors that are present everywhere else.
Mouthfeel 3/5: The style does not require a lot of carbonation, but when it is this little the mouthfeel risks becoming syrupy and this beer is no exception. It has a medium-full body that suits these heavy flavors nicely.
Overall Impression 9/10: The flavors in this are phenomenal and surpass the aroma in its ability to impress; not always an easy task. The only weak parts of the entire experience are the lack of head & retention (far from a deal breaker) and the lack of carbonation in the mouthfeel itself. It is supposed to be low, but it is almost completely absent and I’m not even finished with the 12 oz can. It’s a good thing that the rest of this beer more than carries those two lesser categories.
Total 44/50: When it comes down to it, my gripes are pretty insignificant to the amazing flavor and aroma that this beer offers. Frankly, wouldn’t we all rather have a beer that smells and tastes great than worry about the carbonation in the mouthfeel? Exactly. The combination of dark fruit, cocoa, smokey rye/peat, and a well-hidden 8.0% ABV is one you do not want to miss. I bought some of this for a friend on his birthday earlier this year and now two thoughts come to mind. One, I’m glad it turned out to be a good birthday gift. Two, I should have gotten more for myself. Cheers again to the folks at Oskar Blues. Damn fine work, folks.
Joel R. Kolander is the Cheif Blogger for Sud Savant, a beer-savoring blog for the rest of us. We’re not here to get plowed. We’re not here because we are world-famous beer critics. We’re here because we enjoy savoring a great beer with even better friends. Sharing great beer is just as amazing as finding it in the first place. Lets share!