This week I decided to try a beer from one of my favorite breweries, Oskar Blues. I picked up a can of their ominous Ten FIDY Imperial Stout — so named because of the 10.5 percent ABV rating. An imperial stout is just a stronger version of stout. Brewers use more grains and more hops, resulting in a heavier and heartier beer.
Oskar Blues Brewery started as a small brewpub in Lyons, Colo., about a half hour north of Boulder, Colo. The early Oskar Blues brewery must have been an awesome place to work — inside the brewery they had batting cages, a basketball court, skateboard ramps and bikes. I honestly don’t know where they found the time to brew beer. As their product became more popular, the recreational installations gave way to large fermenting tanks and brew kettles, and the Colorado brewery soon maxed out its production. The brewery has since expanded operations to a new facility in Brevard, N.C., presumably to satiate the East Coast’s demand for their fine beer. In fact, the beer I bought for this review was canned there.
Oskar Blues is partly responsible for the rising popularity of craft beer in cans. If you go out to a place that has a lot of craft beers, chances are you’ll find their Dale’s Pale Ale in its signature can behind the bar. I’ve sung the praises of canned beer in this column before, and I’ll do it again. Cans are lighter and thus more economical to transport, and aluminum can be recycled indefinitely. Cans are also impenetrable to light and air, meaning the beer is better protected from reactions that can cause the beer to go stale and kill flavor. In line with a Rocky Mountain mentality, you can also hike the more portable cans of beer into the backcountry or up a mountain and easily out to your trash can. And for the more indoor-oriented segment of the beer drinking population, cans cool down more quickly than bottles in the fridge.
Ten FIDY’s all black-and-white can is an ominous departure from the brewery’s typically colorful labels. The phrase “this dog’ll hunt” is proudly printed on the side of the can, as if to warn potential imbibers that this beer is no joke. The beer pours an almost oil-like opaque black from the can with a dark ruby red head. Holding the glass up to a light, not a single ray shines through. The aroma is smooth and sweet, with roasty malts at the forefront and the faintest hint of alcohol. As for the taste — wow. This beer tastes fabulous. It’s extraordinarily smooth and pleasantly sweet, with no harsh bitterness from the dark malts.
Ten FIDY is quickly becoming my new favorite imperial stout. It is a thick, heavy, creamy, viscous beer and a small sip goes a long way. The only detractor is the price tag: $6.90 for a can at Rybrew. Oh well — life’s too short to worry about silly things like that. Cheers!