I can distinctly remember the first time I tasted Oskar Blues’ Dale’s Pale Ale. It was several years ago at the Red Derby back when they only served beer in cans. I was staring at a chalkboard of beers that I’d either never heard of or had no interest in. I opted for the Dale’s, and as soon as I cracked it open, I knew I’d made the right choice. This beer was heavenly; a citrusy hops aroma and a very hoppy yet totally drinkable flavor, basically the perfect pale ale, and all from a beer in a can! I was blown away. When I later realized that this delicious nectar was from my home state of Colorado, but that my first taste had come in DC, I felt incredibly guilty. How long had this brewery been around without me knowing about it?
It turned out that Oskar Blues had been canning beer since 2002, and they were the first U.S. craft brewery to can its own beer. Why cans? As founder Dale Katechis explains, “We thought the idea of our big, luscious pale ale in a can was hilarious. And it made our beer immensely portable for outdoor enjoyment fun.” Katechis and his crew then discovered other benefits of aluminum cans. “Cans keep beer incredibly fresh by fully protecting it from light and oxygen.” And unlike cans of old, the modern aluminum can is lined with a coating so that beer and metal never touch. Nine years after Oskar Blues took the bold step of canning their Dale’s Pale Ale for the first time, craft beer in cans has exploded. Breweries like Surly and 21st Amendment have been canning their beers for years; others, like Sierra Nevada and Avery, are canning for the first time in 2011. Even DC’s newest craft brewery, DC Brau, just released their Public Pale Ale in cans. They all have Oskar Blues to thank for turning canning great beer into an acceptable practice.
Type: Production brewery
Available in DC Market: Yes
Ten FIDY (Russian Imperial Stout)
Beer Advocate: A (1527 Reviews)
Rate Beer: 100 Overall, 97 Style
Notes: Ten FIDY is a huge, thick, chocolatey imperial stout that has become a favorite among craft beer fans nationwide. This one is a palate bruiser, so you probably shouldn’t have it too early in the night, or those smaller beers you follow it up with are going to taste like water.
GUBNA Imperial IPA
Beer Advocate: B (596 Reviews)
Rate Beer: 98 Overall, 86 Style
Notes: GUBNA seems to be a very polarizing beer. I, for one, love it as a big citrusy, hoppy DIPA, but others seemed to be turned off by what has often been described as an onion-like flavor. I’m not sure if the variation is beer to beer, or if it’s just a personal thing, but I’d recommend checking this one out to see if you fall into the “love” category with this beer like me.
What you need to know:
Oskar Blues keeps it simple and delicious. They only offer six year-round offerings in cans (Dale’s Pale Ale, Ten FIDY, G’Knight (formerly Gordon), GUBNA, Old Chub and Mama’s Little Yella Pils), and don’t mess around much with the seasonals or special releases. Instead they focus on making those six beers as good as they can be, and boy do they succeed. GUBNA and TEN FIDY are their two biggest beers and are a great example of the massive flavor that these guys pack into those aluminum cans. Yes, you can get these beers any time of year in DC, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop over at the Oskar Blues booth.
This profile is a part of the DCBEER.COM SAVOR Brewery Profile series. For more information, follow the link to see profiles of all 2011 SAVOR participants.
Beer Review Disclaimer: The beer reviews found on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer do not represent the opinions of this site. We provide these in the hope that they will serve as a resource showing what some craft beer fans have thought of the beers. These reviews can be a helpful guideline, but are not the be-all end-all about a beer’s strengths or weaknesses.