Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews


Oskar Blues Brewery
Lyons, CO

Style: Imperial Stout

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)

Ebonics and beer … it’s a winning combination!

First of all, let me state that I personally despise the term “Ebonics,” as it was coined by crotchety old white people who like to blame the ignorance of their spoiled offspring on factors other than negligent parenting. Ebonics is supposedly the language of the streets, which fails to explain why rich Johnny Sonofabitch is blasting awful pop hip-hop and playing Grand Theft Auto IV for hours on end in his mansion in Bel Air. So-called “Ebonics” is just one of a number of forms of American slang (see: the Deep South, Boston, and, yes … the Upper Midwest der, eh) and isn’t limited to any specific racial group. It’s part of our everyday interaction, whether we like it or not.

Case in point: my latest review is for a fine craft brewer in Colorado with the grammatically challenged moniker of Oskar Blues Ten FIDY Imperial Stout (and no, I’m not sure why FIDY is in all caps). If the “language of the streets” is supposedly limited to minorities in the inner cities, I’d love to hear an explanation as to why a craft brewer in an affluent Denver-area suburb is creating a brew with this moniker, not to mention selling a four-pack of 12 oz. cans for ten dollars. I’m waiting …

Alright, before Nigel makes head honcho Eddie Glick any more uncomfortable with his pseudo-political, left-wing rants, I’ll get to the beer. I’m absolutely giddy about reviewing my first Oskar Blues brew, as I’ve heard great things about the brewery and I’m always eager to jump on any craft brewer that packages in the underutilized aluminum can. As I stated in my review for can-loving Surly’s CynicAle, the belief that fine beer can only come in bottles was long ago proved false, since modern technology has made canning an easier and better alternative to glass bottles in many cases. The idea that cans don’t maintain proper freshness or that they leave a metallic, chemically tinge to the beer is absolutely ridiculous, as modern cans are lined with a synthetic film that protects the beer from the metal and are actually more secure than bottles (not to mention easier to handle and dispose of).

While I’ve heard nothing but raves in regards to Oskar Blues, that really means nothing until I can experience it for myself. After all, as a diehard sports fan, 2008 alone has brought assurances from various pundits that Brett Favre would be back for another year (the most overrated player in NFL history FINALLY retired in March), the Phoenix Suns were a shoo-in to win the Western Conference in the NBA (they lost in the first round to San Antonio, 4-1), and the Milwaukee Brewers would challenge the Chicago Cubs for the National League Central crown (they’ve struggled all year and are currently below .500, trying to avoid last place). Needless to say, there are plenty of people out there that don’t have a clue as to what the hell they’re talking about (how did “favorites” Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney fair in the ol’ primaries?).

Ten FIDY is a powerful imperial stout, checking in at about 10 percent ABV. In the past, Nigel would challenge himself and try to prove his manhood by drinking all four cans during the evening. With age comes wisdom, so I will limit myself to two … unless of course I get bored and feel like causing an old-fashioned ruckus, in which case I will chug all four cans and see what superpowers I develop in my drunken stupor. For the sake of humanity, let’s hope Nigel stops at two.

Ten FIDY pours as dark as night, with the impenetrable black hue topped off by a mild tan head of less than an inch. The nominal fizz quickly dissipates, leaving a slight brown lace at the top of the glass throughout the drink and some stickiness on the sides. The pour from the can was great; it reminded me of the old days, when motor oil came in tin cans (yes, Nigel is once again showing his age) and poured thick and black into the oil thingy (yes, Nigel is once again showing his mechanical ignorance).

While the appearance is intimidating, the aroma isn’t nearly as strong as I was expecting. Oskar Blues claims this is a whopping 98 IBUs (ridiculous for a stout), but I don’t detect any hops in the aroma. Typical stout aromas here, as dark roasted malts dominate, with noticeable hints of coffee and chocolate. There are also sweet aromas of dark brown sugar, molasses, and malted milk that provide a nice balance when combined with the initial roast. Somehow Oskar Blues managed to eliminate the aroma of alcohol despite the high ABV; the lack of alcohol and hops in the aroma may help explain why it’s somewhat tepid.

The flavor is absolutely incredible and insanely balanced … Ten FIDY cemented a spot in my top 5 stouts after one sip. Initial flavors of dark roasted malts coat the tongue, but they don’t overwhelm you with smoke like many imperial stouts can. There is an amazing plethora of flavors that come through after the initial thickness. While hops weren’t really detectable in the aroma, they are a major player in the flavor. I still don’t sense 98 IBUs, but there is a distinct bitter, zippy bite to Ten FIDY that you don’t typically find in super dark brews. There’s also some sweetness from dark fruit (raisin, fig, and even a tinge of lighter citrus), which plays well with the piney, floral hops. Huge amounts of sugary malt curl the tongue (caramel, molasses, and dark brown sugar), as does a nice semi-sweet chocolaty flavor and a tinge of café mocha. While this may sound like flavor overload, somehow Oskar Blues has managed to put them in perfect harmony, with each one supporting the other and none of them dominating. The end result is a powerful imperial stout that is absolutely phenomenal and dangerously drinkable. Nigel behaved himself and had only two, but they went down much faster than they should have. Full bodied yet smooth on the palate, Ten FIDY is a brew that will blow the socks of any lover of fine beer, but must be dealt with carefully, as it is so damn good that some people may want to turn this monster into a session brew.

All in all, it makes no difference that this is in a can rather than a bottle or on tap; it’s so damn good, I’d be willing to suck it out of a pregnant goat’s teat. While the grammar police may have a bone to pick with Ten FIDY, any craft beer connoisseur will instantly fall in love with it. Remarkably flavorful and balanced, this is easily worth the rather steep price and it’s a must try for any beer dork out there. You can even brown bag it to give it that final “street” touch.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on June 2, 2008.
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