Wednesday, November 7, 2012

538. Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s IPA

Oskar Blues is now being distributed in Ohio, which means I get to try beers like this, and add it to the list of previous Oskar Blues beers that have been smuggled into the state like illegal contraband. Or like ill-gotten booty. Or like beer geek magic. I’ll let all of you choose your favorite simile out of those three, or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even construct your own in the comments. Or in other, more precise words, I’ll just have more fun talking to myself here. Any-who, this is our fourth beer from Oskar Blues—it has been a while—following in the footsteps of “infinitely recyclable” cans like Ten Fidy, Mama’s Little Yella Pils and Dale’s Pale Ale. This one, however, is a tall boy. Which means those 16 ounces of 8.0% beer are going to make me suffer just that much more tomorrow morning.

Deviant Dale’s pours a brilliant and crystal clear amber with a fair amount of orange—it’s a touch darker than copper, but not quite tan or brown—and a meal-y yellow head that offers decent retention. The nose is located squarely at the crossroads of pine and resin; while there is a touch of creamy malt, caramel, and corn hidden behind the hops (it reminds me of the smell of warm caramel corn), this is primarily a hop-forward beer. As it warms, some alcohol starts to emerge in the nose, which, in conjunction with the hops, gives the beer a slight hint of lacquer or acetone. The body and flavor is nicely restrained for an 8.0% ABV beer; there is some chewiness, but nothing sticky or cloying, and the carbonation and alcohol tang thin and lighten the beer on the tongue. The carbonic bite in the second third strips some of the body away, leading into the final hop bite and bitterness of the finish. Not surprisingly, flavors favor hops; there is a spicy caramel bite in the front, followed by pine and resin that accompanies the rising levels of bitterness in the middle. The cleansing carbonation bite allows pine, resin, and a green evergreen blast of hop flavor to balance the bitterness as the beer heads into the finish, which lingers pleasantly on the palate along with a touch of alcohol warmth (the alcohol does get hotter as the beer warms). I also get a hint of lingering bread crust along with the bitterness. A good beer, albeit a bit unnecessarily hefty in size—it’s not quite a DIPA in terms of body, but the hop pay-off is too low for a top-tier IPA. The alcohol gets in the way a bit here as well; again, this seems part of the tension: the elevated ABV doesn’t marry perfectly with the cleaner malt profile, while the hop flavor and aroma is impeded by the size of the beer. So basically, it is a study in contrasts. And again, this is a good beer, it just doesn’t seem to fit well anywhere. Unless—and I know this will sound terrible, although I mean it in the best possible light—your target audience is the classic middle-of-the-road American beer geek who thinks bigger is better but doesn’t know enough about hops or style to understand the potential limitations that come with calling this an IPA. See? That sounds terrible. And I do like this beer. But I also stand by my comments. Because let’s be honest: my description is an apt one for a sizable portion of the craft beer audience right now. And just because it sucks doesn’t mean it’s not true.

From the Oskar Blues website: “Deviant Dale’s IPA (8% ABV, 85 IBUs) was born at the crossroads, in a juke joint, as if Dale’s Pale Ale sold its soul to balance Deviant’s foreboding aromas of citrus, grapefruit rind and piney resins with a copper ball-of-fire color and inscrutable finish. The 2011 GABF Silver Medal Winner (American IPA Category) is the Devil incarnate with untold amounts of malt and hedonistic Columbus dry-hopping. Oskar Blues’ southern spirit caught a northbound blues bus to ColoRADo to deliver the boundary bustin’ brewery’s first 16 oz. tallboy can.”

ABV: 8.0%
IBU: 85
Canned: 10/05/2012


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