Although they are known among beer geeks primarily as “that brewery that cans their beer”, Oskar Blues started life as (and still is) a cajun grill and restaurant. Located in Lyons, Colorado, the pub opened in ’97, started brewing in ’99, and installed their canning line in 2002. Since the installation of the hand-canning operation the brewery has experienced exponential growth, and can claim the title of one of the fastest-growing breweries in the country.
Oskar Blues has a small but superb lineup of brews, offering five different canned beers year-round. In addition to their flagship pale ale, Ten-Fidy, Gordon, Old Chub and the newly introduced Mama’s Little Yella Pils have all made it to the shelves of beer stores on the east and west coast. Though they haven’t quite made it to Maine (damn you, beers I can’t get here!) I picked up a sixer of Dale’s after the American Craft Beer Fest this weekend in Boston.
Dale’s Pale pours a perfect caramel brown, with a massive off-white head that threatens to come out of the glass. Oops, my fault for an over-aggressive pour. Like my favorite hop-tastic beers, the head clings to the side of the pint for dear life as it recedes – hooray for hop oils! There’s a bit of cloudiness in the unfiltered brew, but it’s mostly clear with some moderate visible carbonation. The nose reveals a big ol’ western APA, teetering somewhere on the edge of India pale. Sweet caramel malts and floral hops make up the aroma, with pine and citrus hops coming in strongest.
After a sip, Dale’s reinforces that is is an APA rather than an IPA. Sure, hops are there – bitter, sticky and delicious. There real star of the taste, however, is a mouthful of toffee and bready sweetness from the malt bill. I don’t want to say the hops aren’t strong, but they are balanced (there’s that wonderful word again) by the great malt flavor. The sweet and bitter come together in a dry, clean finish. This is one smooth drinker, and even at 6.5% drinks like a session brew.
After a weekend of drinking extreme and in-your-face assertive beers, the Dale’s Pale Ale is a great reminder of how perfect an well-brewed sessionable beer can be. Delicious, dynamic and dangerously drinkable, Dale’s will be a staple in my fridge whenever distribution gets it into Maine.
Seriously, the sooner the better.