Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oskar Blues - Ten Fidy Imperial Stout

This beer was given to me by my good buddy Keith in Tampa, FL.  We had first sampled it at World of Beer (Carrollwood location) and were very impressed.  It is definitely a beer a that deserves a more in-depth evaluation.  Please note, that this blog will include more pictures than usual because there are several cool visual features to this beer.

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.
Aroma 12/12
Wow, there are some amazing things going on here!  There is definitely dark chocolate present and I'm not talking milk chocolate.  I'm talking bitter, dark, 90% cacao beans type of chocolate.  Please do NOT read that as the beer smells like 90% chocolate; that is not the case.  The aroma is based in a dark fruit/black licorice smell, but is not so overpowering that you cannot also detect the other contributing members: dark roasted malt, woody hops, and a dark toffee note.  What more could you ask for?!  While it smells like coffee and dark sweetness, it still maintains a balance with its hop and malt friends.  Perfection.

Appearance 3/3
This beer is exactly what they style demands.  It pours like used motor oil into the glass and produces a good-sized brown head.  Awesome.  In an imperial stout everything about the beer should be dark and Ten Fidy does not disappoint.  The head is dark-khaki brown and the beer is black.  I mean tar-pitch black.  Outer space black.  Keith (the giver of this beer) would say its "blacker than the blackest black times infinity."  Even the head retention was decent and it stuck around long enough for me to get a sip.
Picture is my own.
OK, so one last note on the appearance.  I know the EPC scale apparently goes down to 138, but can we give this beer a ranking of "infinity."  It is completely opaque!  In fact, to demonstrate how opaque this beer truly is, I held it up to the sun.  You still cannot see through it.  There are no ruby hints around the edges or dark brown variances toward the border of the glass; it is simply black.  Or as I like to quote, "darker than a black steer's tookus on a moonless prairie night."  Check the picture and judge for yourself!  Do you see how washed out everything in the background is?  That is how bright it is behind the beer.  This is the black hole of beer.
Picture is my own.

Flavor 19/20
This flavor is just short of what its aroma offers, but that is hardly a criticism.  Things initially come as one would expect - an assault of bitterness.  However, this wave gives way quickly to the sweet notes present in the aroma.  The dark fruits are here with the coffee and toffee, and accompanied a puff of smokiness.  The sweetness is the primary theme, but it is far from lonely.  There are so many "chords" of flavor, with each note making the others better, that when one holds it in the mouth, you can keep coming around and "re-noticing" each flavor.  Its finish and afters continue the dark fruit flavors and give hints at Ten Fidy's warmth.

Mouthfeel 4/5
With how thickly this beer seemed to pour, I was surprised how light it felt in the mouth.  Not to say that this is a "light" beer by any means, but appearances can be deceiving.  One could safely classify it as a medium bodied beer with low carbonation.  The warmth of this beer is very deceptive, hiding itself away and only making it occasionally known that this is a 10.5% ABV beer.  It is a bit easier to detect during exhale.  The lighter-than-style body of this beer and its camouflaged  warmth make this beer much easier to drink than it should be.

Overall Impression 10/10
If you are going to do something, do it 100%.  The people at Oskar Blues have obviously taken this to heart. The beer meets nearly all of the style guidelines, adds interpretations, and comes out a winner.  It is flawless in aroma and appearance.  Other categories, while not flawless, are still excellent and result in a superior beer.

Total 48/50 (Outstanding)
This beer rightly earns the description of "world-class example of style."  Stylistically on the money with complimentary creative license, this beer was fantastic.  It is big, bold, and black.  Hard to believe that beer like this comes in a can, but in the future I believe that this trend will not be as surprising as cans continue to grow in popularity.  Not only is the beer amazing, but the people at Oskar Blues do some pretty cool things.  They include a "shotgun target" on the can so you know where to puncture the can (not that I would EVER shotgun this 12 oz. of nectar), they have musical events in their facilities, encourage recycling on their packaging, and they distribute their beer in cans.  Not only does Oskar Blues make beer to be unashamed of, they also unabashedly do what they love.  Kudos to you Oskar Blues!  This is one of my top beers.  Ever.

Things that make this can awesome: "this dog'll hunt," "Pack it in.  Pack it out."  Shotgun target.

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