Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale

March 27, 2010

When I started drinking good beer, someone told me that bottles were better containers for beer because they did not impart any metallic taste to the beer in the way that cans did.  There is a certain logic to that.  Coke from a bottle tastes different from Coke from a can.  The Coke in the can has a tinny flavor.  However, storing beer in bottles has  limitations.  Light is the enemy of hops, and even dark glass bottles let some light in, leading to a deterioration of taste.  It may not matter with a beer like Corona which has no taste anyway, hell, they sell that stuff in clear glass bottles, but better beers are usually sold in brown glass bottles to limit the impact of light on the flavor.  Some craft brewers use six pack carriers with high sides to further reduce light exposure. In terms of reducing light deterioration, cans are superior to bottles.

It was only a matter of time before a craft brewer started using cans instead of bottles, and Colorado’s Oskar Blues is the first that I am aware of to do so.  I thought “marketing gimmick” the first time I saw their cans, thinking they were appealing to the hipster crowd who ironically drink Pabst Blue Ribbon from a can, but it does make some sense from a brewer’s point of view. Brief Sidenote: Is there anything that can be done to the thin the hipster herd a bit?  I had such high hopes for the various Middle East Wars, hoping that a draft would be instituted and take some of those mopey bastards off the streets, but no such luck.

Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale pours a nice deep copper color with a medium.  It is hoppy on the nose and the taste, mostly citrus, balanced by a bready malt flavor.  Was there any metallic flavor?  Yeah, I thought I noticed a slight aluminum taste, but I drank this with the bottle can in front of me, so it may have been entirely in my head. (That’s right, I wrote bottle at first, and posted it that way even after proofreading).  I would like to either try this in a blind taste test or side by side with a draft to see if I still detect that aluminum6.5/10.

UPDATE: After getting some emails and a comment on the subject, I did some research and found that Oskar Blues uses a special coating on the inside of the cans which prevents any metallic flavors being imparted into the beer, so that “aluminum” I tasted was a complete figment of my imagination.  I found this information by poking around the Oskar Blues website for all of about fifteen seconds.  The lesson, as always, is that I am an idiot.

The Judge Has The Right Idea

March 26, 2010

I really do not understand the pro-prohibition argument at all.  Oh yeah, it is for the children!

Laughing Dog Dogzilla Black IPA

March 26, 2010

Laughing Dog, the finest brewery in Idaho, at least that I know of, have scored another winner with the Dogzilla Black IPA.  This poured with a nice frothy head that lasted to the bottom of the glass and probably would have lasted all night if I left the glass on the countertop.  It was as black as advertised, and had a good blast of hops bitterness, balanced by some toasted malt flavors, with a hint of mocha and raisin, but without any real malt sweetness.  This seemed to be more of a hoppy porter than a dark IPA, but I can live with their characterization.  7.5/10.

The Bars of My Life: The Bardo Rodeo, Arlington, Virginia

March 25, 2010

I Will Recognize Whatever Appears As My Projection, And Know It To Be A Vision Of The Bardo

It was late 1996, and with my first marriage in the crapper, I needed a new apartment.  At the time, I was living in Northern Virginia, out in Fairfax County.  It was a nice enough place, but a little too suburban.  I wanted to move a little closer to the District, and to someplace that had some nightlife.  I narrowed my search to Alexandria and Arlington, both sitting right on the Potomac River.

Alexandria is a cool place, but if you get too far from the Old Town section, it gets pretty rough.  Arlington seemed more promising, but I was coming up empty.  Every place that I tried to look at had just been rented.  Needing some food and some beer, I found the Bardo Rodeo on Arlington Boulevard, and settled at the bar for some nourishment.

The Bardo Rodeo claimed to be the largest brewpub on the Eastern Seaboard.  I do not know whether that was true, but it was huge.  It was housed in an old car dealership and it encompassed the entire structure, including the service bays.  There was an old Buick that looked like it crashed through the window.  They always had at least ten of their own beers on tap, and another dozen or so guest beers.  No bottled beers, no booze, no wine, just a startling variety of good beer on tap.

So I was sitting at the bar, eating my chili and drinking my beer, and wondering where the fuck was I going to live, when I looked out the front window of the Bardo and noticed a group of small red brick apartment buildings.  I finished my meal and ambled into the rental office, and not only did they have vacancies, the rents were a good hundred bucks below what I budgeted for myself.  I signed the lease that day.

The Bardo became my living room.  I was watching a basketball game in my apartment one weekend, and the game went to a commercial.  I decided to grab a beer, and I was sitting at the bar before the commercial that I started watching in my apartment had ended.  That was how close I lived to it.  They had a movie theater size screen in one room for sporting events and movies.  I watched Tiger demolish Augusta to win his first Masters and watched Jordan push off and sink that shot to beat the Jazz for the title on that screen.

I played pool there, watched sports, listened to music and drank some of the best beer I have ever had.  The Graceland Imperial Stout was a powerhouse, and was the first time I ever saw the term ‘Imperial’ used to describe a big beer.  They had at least three different IPAs, two stouts, a couple of pale ales and a handful of porters.  The Saturnus Winter Ale was brewed with pine needles and is to this day my all time favorite winter ale.  Their hefeweizen was better than anything that comes from Germany, and while their Marion Berry Lambic was not a great beer, the Bardo gets extra credit for the fantastic name.

One night, my cousin and I ordered a pitcher of their barleywine, White Lightnin’.  The waitress said, “Are you sure?” We said, “oh yeah, definitely.”  If a waitress asks “are you sure?” when you order a pitcher, take heed of her warning.  I don’t remember getting home that night.  I woke up the next morning with a splitting headache, face down on my kitchen floor.

The Bardo always had great guest beers.  They used to save a barrel of Anchor’s Christmas Ale from the previous year, so that you could compare each year’s release.  This was the first place that I had a beer from Rogue Brewing, and they always had interesting beers from the Pacific Coast and the Rocky Mountains.

I need to mention Luke, the bartender.  That guy took a liking to me for some reason, and I used to stumble out of there after trying nearly every beer on tap, and it never cost me more than twelve bucks.  I always overtipped him, and still came out way ahead of the game.  One night, JK and I were in there for a good six hours, and we were pounding beers as fast as Luke could pour them.  When I asked to settle up, he asked for twenty bucks.  I think we gave him the twenty, plus another thirty as a tip.

The Bardo Rodeo is gone now.  They stopped brewing there shortly after I left Virginia, and it limped along for a while as a sushi bar and taphouse.  The property is vacant and is going to be developed for condos.

Moylan’s Dragoons Dry Irish Stout

March 25, 2010

Dry is an apt description of this stout.  There is almost no malt sweetness to this.  It is packed with a nice toasted barley flavor and has  a noticeable hoppiness to it, which is not often found in stouts. It had a slight head which dissipated quickly.  This beer improved noticeably as it warmed, so I would suggest taking it out of the fridge an hour or so before drinking it.   This is the second Moylan’s beer I have had, and while not as good as the Hopsickle, it is a winner. 7.5/10.

Victory Hop Devil and Victory Helios Saison

March 25, 2010

The V-Man is a serious softball player, and this past weekend he wanted to get some swings in at the batting cage.  He was meeting some of his teammates, and not having anything better to do, I joined them.  I first took some swings in the slow pitch softball cage, and while I was not smacking the ball around, I at least made contact on all ten balls.  Granted, they would have all been weak grounders to second or short, what are known as ‘Double-Play Balls’, but at least the ball was put in play.  I then took some cuts in the fast pitch softball cage.  My performance there was sad.  When I was done, the high school girls who were waiting their turn were all giggling, and I do not think it was because they thought I was cute.

After the spring training session, we retired to Just Jakes in Montclair for some beer and appetizers.  Being the beer dork in the group, I was asked for advice on ordering.  I suggested to  a guy who liked Hoegaarden that he try the Leffe Blonde. He loved it.  The rest of the group was choosing between the Victory Hop Devil or Long Trail Double Bag.  The lone female in our group (who outslugged me in the batting cage by a considerable margin) deemed the Hop Devil to be “too perfumey” for her, and opted for the Double Bag.  While I slightly disagree with her beer choice, I think “perfumey” is a good description of the Hop Devil.  It has a serious hops aroma, which you notice before you take a sip.  Hop Devil is another of my ‘go-to’ beers.  This beer is damned good and eminently drinkable.  It has enough hops ‘perfume’ to keep the beer snobs happy, and enough balance and flavor to entice the macro-beer drinkers in to giving it a try. 8/10.

The Victory Helios is a rebranding and repackaging of Victory’s Saison.  The Victory Saison was my summer beer last year.  It was a classic Belgian Farmhouse Ale, light, crisp and refreshing, with some yeasty sourness to make it an interesting brew.  It does not seem like much has changed with the Helios, other than the bottle is no longer corked (Boo!) and the price has come down considerably (Huzzah!).  It is still dry, crisp, refreshing and wonderfully complex, with notes of lemon peel and black pepper spiciness on the nose and on the tongue. 8.5/10.

Stone Old Guardian Barleywine 2010 Release

March 20, 2010

The 2010 Old Guardian Barleywine from Stone Brewing is a top notch beer.  It clocks in at over 11% ABV, but is smooth and very drinkable.  It pours a burnt orange color with a decent head that lasts to the bottom of the glass.  A nice fruity aroma with some hops floweriness and a malty backbone.  The caramel maltiness really came through in the flavor.  I had this a few weeks ago when I was snowed in one night and it was the perfect cold weather beer.  8/10.

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