Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Obovoid Empirical Stout

Boulder Beer Company
Boulder, CO

Style: Imperial Stout

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

The summer beer doldrums have officially hit Nigel. While our intrepid webmaster Eddie Glick was circling the globe the past month, the scheduled updates on our site slowed a bit. This was good for Nigel, who likes to do a couple of reviews per week to keep you, the loyal reader, educated and entertained. However, as the beer review queue began to dwindle this past week after a full load of updates, Nigel was hit with the dreaded “blahs”; inspiration was lacking to say the least, and time was of the essence to get my review on.

A quick browse of my beer, ahem … cellar (it’s a closet) revealed nothing fun to review. A trip to the local good beer purveyor also came up largely empty, as the fall bonanza of new brews is still a week or two away (I’m writing this on the 15th of August). Desperately searching, Nigel finally came up with a bomber of Obovoid Empirical Stout from Boulder Beer Company, a brew and brewery that I had never experienced before.

Nigel had a brief moment of excitement with this discovery. As a dedicated employee, Nigel gets his hourly Google news alerts via e-mail, which allows him to easily scour the net to find relevant news stories. A number of links sent via Google this past week regarded the new brewery Fort Collins Brewing is building, which is supposed to significantly increase their operation and distribution. “Awesome,” said Nigel, “I’ll get to review a brewery that’s in the news!” For those of you not having a moment of geographical retardation like Nigel did, Boulder and Fort Collins, while both located in the fine state of Colorado, are two completely different places. Anyone with even a basic knowledge of American geography or college football should know this instantly, as Boulder is home to the Buffaloes of the University of Colorado and Fort Collins is home to the smaller Rams from Colorado State. So no, I don’t have a newsworthy brewery to review, but I hopefully stumbled across a nice consolation prize.

Given the current mid-August date, an imperial stout isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered (the doctor probably would’ve suggested milk or orange juice, which is why Nigel doesn’t listen to the doctor), but desperate times call for desperate measures. Granted, drinking an imperial stout is rarely a desperate move as it’s one of the finest beer styles out there, but I’m trying to be melodramatic, so work with me here. A quick browse of Boulder Beer’s web site and Nigel realizes that he’s been passing over two widely distributed Boulder brews, Mojo IPA and Hazed & Infused APA, for years now. If Obovoid comes through as a quality imperial stout, I’ll surely be checking those two hoppy treats out in the near future.

Obovoid Empirical Stout pours exactly as you’d expect, with a mild, fizzy head of about half an inch that slowly dissipates, leaving a lively, creamy lace on the top throughout the drink. A deep brown/black hue, there is some sedimentation that settles to the bottom and quite a bit of stickiness on the side of the glass.

Aromas are excellent, again fulfilling the lofty expectations held for this brilliant style. A wonderful sweet, sugary aroma of caramel, molasses, and toffee is quickly joined by a roasted nuttiness, with a hint of light roasted coffee. The slightest touch of cocoa comes through towards the back end, as does an earthy, grainy undertone and a touch of alcohol.

The taste proves to be a bit of a letdown, though it is quite flavorful and enjoyable. While the three mug rating would seem to indicate “average,” it’s only average in the context of imperial stouts, which means overall it’s pretty damn good. My main beef is that Obovoid has a touch of vinegar-like bite to it, though I chalk some of that up to the fact that it tingles the tongue more than many imperial stouts do thanks to excessive carbonation. Other than that, it’s very good, though not great. A nice roasted malt comes through at the outset, more roasted nuts than coffee, followed by nice, sweet sugars in toffee, molasses, and semi-sweet chocolate. There’s a noticeable touch of oatmeal present, though I find no mention of oatmeal in the description. Boulder does say that Obovoid is “aged with oak,” which is only slightly noticeable in the flavor in the form of a non-descript woodiness, and isn’t at all noticeable in any other aspect of the session. A slight bit of alcohol finishes it off, and the bite increases as the beer warms. Like most stouts, this shouldn’t be served too chilled, though the rise in temperature doesn’t seem to affect Obovoid as much as it does other thick, dark brews. Full bodied with a carbonated bite, Obovoid can be a bit tough on the palate, but overall is a drinkable imperial stout.

While not great, Obovoid is still very good, enough so that I’m planning on trying Boulder Beer again. It starts out promising but begins to fade as the session progresses, leaving the hardcore imperial stout lover a bit disappointed at the end. Packaged in bomber form and retailing for $5-7, Obovoid is worth a shot if so inclined, but isn’t a “must-have” by any means. On the plus side, it’ll help you brush up on your Colorado geography and get you good and buzzed should you be stuck watching the irrelevant September match-up between the Buffs and Rams.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on August 25, 2008.
Agree with this review?
Happy anniversary, Lakefront Brewery!

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

Beer Dorks News

Want to know how healthy the craft beer industry is? As always, look to Portland. Craft pioneer Bridgeport announces sudden closure, adding to a growing list of PDX casualties.
Did Anheuser-Busch Chicago offer their shit beer to Cody Parkey before his missed field goal? Because that may explain why he "accidentally" biffed it.
Chicago now has the most breweries of any city in the country. Other things Chicago has the most of: murders, mobsters, and Ditkas.
Trying to spin it positive, BA releases end of year graphic. Only 5% growth in the craft sector when nearly 1000 new breweries opened? That's a collapse waiting to happen.
R.I.P. Tallgrass... another casualty as the regional/national craft beer market continues to get squeezed.
Wait... Constellation Brands cut all of the Ballast Point and Funky Buddha sales staff? They merged it with their Corona/Modelo staff?? We're SHOCKED!!!
Pizza Beer founder crying about failure of company, blames everyone else. Reminder, the beer tasted like vomit. Try having better ideas or making better products so you're not a failure.
It's Bud Light so doesn't really matter, but we expect this beer to be sitting around for awhile.
Indiana brewery to open with controversial beer names to "get the conversation going". Translation: taking advantage of serious issues for free publicity.
Hundreds of amazing beers in Wisconsin and the Cubs took back the one everyone drinks just because it exists and people have heard of it. How fitting...