Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oskar Blues - Dale's Pale Ale

Confession time.  I couldn't care less about the Oscars.  In fact, the only Oscar I've been able to think of since all this "Oscar Fever" started its pandemic is Oskar Blues.  Luckily, I just happen to have a few cans waiting for me.  As I've mentioned about 100 times before, I live in a small rural area so we don't have access to everything that a craft beer drinker might desire.  Oskar Blues is one of those beers that doesn't make its way out here, so to crack open a can is always a special treat.

Also, their "Deviant Dale's" began hitting the shelves recently!  Get a few (if you can) so I can live vicariously. In the meantime, this is going to be the next best thing.  Let's pour!

I love the juxtaposition of cans and tulip glasses.

Aroma 11/12
I was very concerned initially as the beer smelled metallic and like minerals.  However, I determined this to be a problem with the remaining water in a recently washed glass and not the beer.  A stern reminder to always use clean (and apparently dried) glassware.  The aroma for Dale's Pale Ale is not exceptionally complex, but it performs its job admirably.  The piney hops can be smelled right out of the can and a small pour allows that pine to fade almost entirely into the background.  A molasses and citrus blend take over and give it a sharper sweet smell.  While the molasses isn't the typical smell for a Pale Ale, it is a welcome variation on the theme.  As the beer warms, a grassier hop note is also introduced and is quite nice.

Appearance 3/3
This beer pours like a fire and when in the glass it exhibits all those colors that we love so well:  burning embers & bright golds.  The haziness dulls down the edges a bit and gives the colors a rust-like quality.  The head is slightly more than a finger, persistent, and ends with a milky pour on top of the existing head.  It's wet and thin, and eventually pinholes of escaping carbonation begin to dot the surface.

Flavor 19/20
The beer starts out fairly unassuming, but nearly ambushes the drinker by springing into the backbone.  The palate soon finds itself surrounded by a myriad of cohesive flavors.  Caramel sweetness is easily found and a warmth can be detected at times with a faded citrus not far off.  Holding the beer in the mouth reveals a toasty, cracker-like malt which combines extremely well with the aforementioned light citrus.  Good citrus?  Crackery/biscuity malt?  Now THAT's a classic pale ale!  The majority of the hops wait to reveal themselves until the finish and they comprise the second wave of ambushers.  Other than the citrus, the hops were all but absent in the backbone.  Now they come forward in a fury!  The tone quickly changes from light malted, citrusy nuanced theme to a reintroduction of the darker caramel and the a wonderfully contrasting bitter.  The bitter continues exclusively to the finish, and with the help of a 6.5% ABV leaves the mouth dry and begging for another sip.

Mouthfeel 5/5
The carbonation was initially very tiny and its lively nature helped add a refreshing nature to this beer.  It loses some in the bottom half, but still has enough to keep up appearances.  The body plays appropriately off of the carbonation.  In the first half, I would have said "medium-light" body.  Toward the end it is safe to call it medium bodied, at the least.  The warmth is hidden, even if at 6.5% it is not a monumental challenge to do so.

Overall Impression 9/10
A tasty, tasty pale ale!  I especially like the way that the aroma doesn't overshadow the flavor, but instead gives a foreshadowing of things to come.  The colors are grand, the flavor is mouth-filling, and the mouthfeel helps makes this rich version of the style still come off as lighter and refreshing.  Beers like this is why we should all like Oskar Blues.  Oh, and it gets extra for being packaged in "the metal" (er, cans).

Total 47/50
I was worried at first because the can reads along the lip, "A Huge Voluminously Hopped Mutha of a Pale Ale."  I thought it was going to be over-hopped for the sake of being extreme and at the expense of a great style.  However, Oskar Blues has me eating crow (not an ideal food pairing), by not only remaining true to the pale ale style, but by also ratcheting things up a notch in the process.  You get the balance, you get the bisuity/crackery malt, but you also get some caramel and a stronger hop presence than more pale ales have.  The result is a delicious ale that a hop head can appreciate, and someone that prefers a bit more balance can also nod their head in agreement.  The can reads, "Rocky Mountain Pale Ale."  Finally, a beer that the Rocky Mountains can be proud of.


  1. Just found out a local beer bar actually has Deviant Dale's on tap... so tempted to go there RIGHT now, haha. Hope to see some cans soon, too.

    As for the normal Dale's, it's definitely one of my favorite pale ales and even better that it comes in a can and is pretty reasonably priced.

    1. Found it on tap? Just remember to show up at home from time to time. You're right about the reasons to love Oskar Blues (cans, price), and there are SO many more. Too many to list here. Some of my faves are: their love of music & musical events that they hold at the brewery, the shotgun spot on their cans, their sense of humor, and this really cool article...